Outlook "can't find" my e-mail server to receive messages

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Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2019 64-bit
Email Account
For the past few months, when I start Outlook, it will automatically send any pending outgoing e-mails without problem, but when it tries to download incoming messages for either of my e-mail servers, at least once a day it will fail and show errors like these:


The server information is correct. I know that because if I go to File Manager and end the svchost.exe process that runs the Dnscache and CryptSvc services, something resets and then the e-mails will download.

Still, even while Outlook is running after that, I will get pop-up messages like this one:


Clicking the Save this password... check-box doesn't help and the password hasn't changed.

What's going on, and more important, how can I stop this from happening?
How frequently are you checking for email? It looks like maybe outlook is trying to check mail too frequently. How many cox accounts are you checking? You might need to put them into different send and receive groups.
Hi, Diane. E-mail's open pretty much all day. I don't shut down the computer when it's time to get away for a while but hibernate it. I'd wonder if that was the problem except that I've been doing that for years and not had this problem (one maybe similar but definitely not this) until a few weeks ago.

Outlook checks all the accounts on its regular basis--maybe once every 10 minutes. Again, up until recently, that hasn't been a problem. And it isn't always a problem. Sometimes that request to enter my username and password pops up, most of the time it doesn't. When it does, it'll be for a few accounts (1-3) but usually not all of them. And then it'll pop them up for a while, then stop.

I don't know if it makes a difference but note, too, that the problem is with two different servers--Cox and my own web site--and it's not consistent about which one it has problems with!
Yeah, I noticed they weren't all Cox accounts after I posted. Do you check the accounts with smartphone or a tablet?
BTW, the other thought is that a recent update did something to cause problems. Could be either windows updates, office updates, or antivirus updates. Does it work in Safe mode?

To open Outlook in Safe mode: Close Outlook then hold Ctrl as you click on the Outlook icon. You'll get a message asking if you want to start in Safe mode. Click Ok.
Yeah, I noticed they weren't all Cox accounts after I posted. Do you check the accounts with smartphone or a tablet?

No. Believe it or not, I don't have either one (yet). I'll try your Safe Mode suggestion and let you know what happens.
No luck starting Outlook in Safe Mode. Single- or double-clicking any Outlook icon while holding down the Ctrl key still resulted in Outlook opening normally. No message asking if I wanted to start in Safe Mode.
Close Outlook.
Press Windows Key + R - this opens the Run dialog box. Type
outlook.exe /safe
and press Enter.
Close Outlook.
Press Windows Key + R - this opens the Run dialog box. Type outlook.exe /safe and press Enter.

OK, that worked. I've run Outlook in Safe Mode for several days now and while things are better, I'm still getting the occasional "password not accepted" pop-up (the password gets accepted after 5-10 minutes) and "server not found" error messages. Not as bad as before but still not what it should be.
Ok.. if that fixes the problem, it could be an issue with an addin or support file. What addins do you have installed? What antivirus are you using?
The only add-in that I have (that I can see, anyway) is from Camtasia Studio, a presentation creation program. When Outlook starts, it says it's loading two add-ins but only one is visible on the add-ins ribbon.

I'm using Norton Internet Security for my antivirus software (that might be the other add-in, come to think of it).

The key thing is, I've been using both programs for over a year, Norton for much longer, without the problems that have cropped up recently. Of course, it's always possible that these problems started because of something that changed in an update but I don't think I have any way to tell.
Go to file, options, Addins - is a Norton addin enabled? If so, click Go, and uncheck it. The antivirus addins are known to cause problems sending and receiving. It sits between outlook and the internet, scanning all mail. If outlook and the server are blocking from talking directly to each other, it can affect mail flow. Starting outlook in safe mode disables all addins and the problem is fixed.

The other possible cause is support files. In the case of send and receive, it could be the .srs file. It's at %appdata%\microsoft\outlook - type or paste that into the address bar of windows explorer and press Enter. Delete it and restart Outlook.
My mistake! I don't know why I was thinking of another program instead of Outlook. I've got a BUNCH of add-ins (many of which I don't need and should at least deactivate. Anyway, here's the list:
  • Business Connectivity Services
  • MS Exchange
  • MS Outlook Social Connector
  • MS SharePoint Server Colleague Import
  • MS SharePoint Workspace Proxy for Outlook
  • MS VBA for Outlook
  • Norton AntiSpam Outlook
  • OneNote Notes about Outlook Items
  • Outlook Change Notifier
I'm uneasy about deactivating Norton AntiSpam but I suppose I can do it long enough to see if it's causing the problem. My ISP has its own spam filters too, so I won't be completely unprotected.
I was wondering about that - I didn't think camtasia installed an addin in outlook. :)

Either of these would be my first thought:
Norton AntiSpam Outlook
Outlook Change Notifier <== goes with iTunes/iCloud to sync outlook to phones. Recent version of iCloud will cause problems sending mail. You don't have it enabled, so its probably not the cause. But if you aren't syncing outlook to iPhone, you don't need it.
Things are already better with the Norton plug-in turned off. Just deactivated the Outlook Change Notifier so I don't have any indication of whether it changed anything or not. If things continue to work well, I'll reactivate the Norton plug-in and see what happens.

Here's another question: when one of my e-mail addresses (the afazona... one) is the first to download any waiting messages, very often the downloading process will error-out afterwards. That never happens with any of the other accounts but almost always with that one. Any idea what's going on? Should I start a new thread for this question?
is that an imap account? which account is set as default? (A new thread for that problem might be a good idea.)
Things are already better with the Norton plug-in turned off. Just deactivated the Outlook Change Notifier so I don't have any indication of whether it changed anything or not. If things continue to work well, I'll reactivate the Norton plug-in and see what happens.

I was getting ready to mark this suggestion as the "best answer" but after a few days of running Outlook in normal mode, with both the Norton and Outlook Change Notifier plug-ins turned off, the old problems have returned. The only one that's still active is the MS Outlook Social Connector and yet once again, Outlook is having trouble finding my e-mail servers. Grrrr!
Microsoft's "kitchen sink" troubleshooting list is here - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/813514

Have you used scanpst on the pst yet? I don't think it is the problem, but it is one of the suggested solutions.

Are you using the DNS servers your isp told you to use? I'm wondering if DNS is the problem, since earlier you said restarting the dns service fixed it.
Nope, haven't tried scanpst. Will give it a shot when I get a chance.

I don't think the DNS servers or the pointers to them are the problem because I haven't changed the links to them since I created the accounts and they were working fine for years. Plus, even when Outlook says it can't find them, by either resetting those two services or by just waiting, Outlook will find them, usually the next time it reaches out to download anything that's waiting.
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