Everyone using a desktop email program with a computer that travels between on and off campus locations, should have that email program configured to use smtp.bu.edu with authenticated SSL (port 465). If you are having trouble sending mail with a desktop mail program and you have not yet configured your SMTP settings to use authenticated SSL, you should do so now, and will probably find that you don’t need to read on.

However, in case additional information is necessary, you can review these other troubleshooting tips:

  1. If you are connecting from within ResNet
  2. If you are connected directly to BU’s Campus Network
  3. If you are using external Internet access to connect
  4. If you use BU’s Web-based mail programs
  5. If you can mostly send mail, but you are unable to send to anyone at a specific domain, such as any address at AOL, or even any address at BU or you can send but are getting a high spam score
  6. If you are sure you sent a message to the correct address, but it wasn’t received

1. If you are connecting from within ResNet (i.e. a BU residence):

Is your SMTP server set to be smtp.bu.edu?:
If you are connecting from within ResNet (i.e., from within a BU residence), you are required use smtp.bu.edu as your SMTP server. If your mail program allows you to define more than one SMTP server, make sure to use smtp.bu.edu as the default when you are within ResNet. Assuming you are using smtp.bu.edu with authenticated SSL (port 465), as described on our email configuration page you should still be able to use that server setting when you travel away from the BU network.

2. If you are connected directly to BU’s Campus Network:

Are you using the right server setting?:
From anywhere on campus, smtp.bu.edu is the best SMTP setting to use; and for those in a BU residence, it’s required. In order to use smtp.bu.edu from any network you happen to be on (home, work, travel) you should be sure to use it with authenticated SSL, as described on our email configuration page.

Are you using a firewall or something similar that could be blocking outgoing mail?:
If so, explore the settings in this product to see if you need to allow mail sending.

Could you have a virus and have been blocked by IT?:
Have you received any notices from IT about virus activity on your computer (and the possibility of losing network access)? If you have any questions about this, please contact us through the Help button on this page.

Is there anything else that could be a factor?:
Has this ever worked? If yes, has anything changed? Have you installed something or reconfigured something? Have you been *receiving* mail without a problem? Are you able to surf the Web? Have you checked your computer for spyware?

3. If you are using external Internet access to connect to the Internet:

To get a message sent right now, without having to configure settings:

Click on Get Mail (or comparable) just before you try to send
It might be sufficient to simply check for mail (by clicking on the “Get Mail” button) immediately before you intend to send. This will give you a current BU authentication that should allow you to send your message.

Connect to the VPN
If you are off campus, it might help to connect to the VPN before trying to send.

Longer-term solutions to prevent this problem in the future:

Use authenticated SSL
Everyone using a desktop mail program should have that mail program configured to use smtp.bu.edu with authenticated SSL (port 465). If you are having trouble sending mail with a desktop mail program and you have not yet configured your SMTP settings to use authenticated SSL, you should do so now, and will probably find that you don’t need to read on.

Connect to the VPN
If you are off campus, it might help to connect to the VPN before trying to send.

Does your ISP have an SMTP server?:
If, for some reason, you cannot authenticated SSL with port 465, as described above, or if you are using a computer that never comes to the BU campus, switching to use the SMTP server setting of your ISP is a reasonable solution.

Are you using a firewall or something similar that could be blocking outgoing mail?:
If so, explore the settings in this product to see if you need to allow/except mail sending.

4. Use Web-based mail at www.bu.edu/webmail:

You should be able to send mail using web-based mail, even when your desktop client is not sending properly.

5. If mail-sending basically works but you are unable to send to anyone at a specific domain, such as any address at AOL, or even any address at BU:

When sending to BU is blocked:
If you are not connected to the BU network for Internet access (or using a desktop mail program over our VPN connection) and you are using a non-BU mail or Web-based mail service, occasionally you could find that you are unable to send mail to an address @bu.eduor you might have been able to send it but the recipient didn’t get it. This will occur when the Web-based mail or Internet service you are using has been black listed because of excessive spam traffic. This block is not implemented by Boston University, but by the black list services that Boston University has subscribed to. In fact, Boston University is occasionally black listed too (see below). We believe that the benefit of blocked spam far outweighs the occasional inconvenience caused by use of these black lists. However, if you experience this problem, feel free to let us know.

Usually black list status is alleviated within a matter of days by the system administrators at the ISP or Web-based mail service. If your own individual machine has been black listed, you should be able to release yourself, using the link provided to you by the black list’s bounce message. Meanwhile, if you are a member of the BU community and you cannot write to an address @bu.edu from your current Web-based mail or ISP connection, you should be able to do so by logging in to BU’s Web-based mail(recommended) or, with a desktop mail program, by connecting directly to the BU network, using the VPN, or using smtp.bu.edu as your SMTP setting. If you are not a member of the BU community, you should be able to get a message through to someone who is by using a different email address (such as a Web-based mail account) or a different Internet Service Provider.

When sending from BU mail is blocked or gets a high spam score:
Many ISPs or Web-based mail services will block or hinder email from places that generate a large amount of spam, even if the spam came from just one machine on that network. If you experience a period of time during which you cannot send mail to any address at a specific domain (such as anyone @aol.com) a temporary block may be in place to restrict mail from one or more BU mail servers. You might also notice this as mail that gets through, but receives a high spam score.

IT has signed up to receive automated notification from AOL when these alerts occur, and we work as quickly as possible to resolve the issue. Because of the automated notification service, you don’t need to report such problems with AOL to IT. However, if you experience this problem with any other companies, Web-based mail services, or ISPs, feel free to let us know using the Help button on this page.

Usually these problems are temporary. However, there are things you can do to try to get a message through while you wait for a resolution.

1. Use the VPN. If you are sending email from off campus, connecting to the VPN before sending mail over smtp.bu.edu will increase the likelihood that you don’t look like a spammer.

2. Make sure that the recipient has the email address you are sending from in his or her contact list. If you have more than one email address, make sure the person has you listed using the BU one that you are attempting with.

3. If that doesn’t help, try sending over a non-BU SMTP server. For example, if BU is blocked and Verizon is your ISP, try using Verizon’s outgoing.verizon.net instead.

4. If the problem occurred when you were using a desktop mail program, try sending from Horde (but make sure to quit your desktop mail program first) at www.bu.edu/webmail.

Toward alleviating this problem in general, do your part in keeping the campus network “clean.” Make sure you are running virus protection software that is updated daily and be very careful when opening attachments.

6. If you are sure you sent the message to the correct address, but it was never received

We hear about this problem occasionally, and usually the recipient finds the message in his or her spam folder. Why was your message identified as spam and blocked or filtered by your recipient’s mail scheme? Because the criteria that black list services use is not an exact science, and sometimes it happens. Perhaps your ISP is temporarily black listed (as described in step 5 above) or perhaps your recipient has overly-strict criteria for filtering. Sometimes messages are more likely to be labeled as spam if they are sent via an SMTP server that differs from the domain of the connection ISP. There can be any number of reasons, but the steps mentioned above will be useful toward resolving the problem.