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Testing Your Network

You need to know the name or the IP address of your mail server. If you do not have this information, obtain it from your Internet Service Provider or your System Administrator.

An ISP usually has the information in the Support section of their web page under "Mail Setup". Their Help Desk will be happy to provide it by phone. Write it down and keep it in a safe place. We recommend that you make a text file containing all the settings you need and store it on your computer. Unfortunately, you may need it quite often, so give it a name you will remember when you come to find it again: for example "ISP Settings".

Ping your ISP

  1. If you are using OS X, go to Applications/Utilities and start the Network Utility.
  2. Click the Ping tab.
  3. Enter either the name or the IP address of your mail server where it says Please enter the network address to ping.

If you see a display like this:

Things are going well! At least your computer can see the mail server, even if Entourage can't.

Just check one thing before we go back to the other page: the far right column, where it says time=137.481 ms. That is the time (in thousandths of a second) that it took a packet of data to go from your computer to the mail server, and for the mail server to send one back to you.

Do not get thrown by "one" bad result. It is not uncommon to see "one" packet produce a silly number. The key statistic is the average (shown at the bottom of the listing, and not in that screen shot).

A time of 137 is not going to win any prizes, but it will suffice, and it's about what you can expect from a commercial ISP on a telephone dialup. A time in the 400 to 500 millisecond range indicates that you or your mail server are not where you think you are: such a time is common on a lengthy international link (London to Sydney in the middle of the business day will produce pings of around 460 ms).

If that's what you are getting from your "local" ISP in your own city, I would recommend that you begin a short conversation with him that begins "When I pay for an Internet Service, I expect..." You can afford to be quite "insistent" because such lengthy ping times mean the ISP has outsourced its mail operation to some hosting facility on the other side of the world. That either means they have a major outage and have failed-over to a backup provider, or they have a rotten network that is never going to perform well for you.

If the time exceeds 900 milliseconds, it is probably never going to work You may be able to increase your network time out by playing with your core network preferences, but we wouldn't bother: the thing will run like a wet week anyway. Time for a new provider....

If you see this:

Things are not going so well!

Check your Connection

Click the Info tab and see what you get. If you see something like this:

You have no network connection at all (In which case, how are you reading this?). Check both ends of the cable to ensure that the plug has not fallen out (yeah, I know: you're not that silly, right? Give them a tug anyway; you might be surprised...)

If you Use Wireless Networking

This picture, by the way, shows what an Airport Connection looks like when you are out of range: note that Link Speed is 0 and Link Status is Inactive, yet there are sent and received packets shown. In this case, the session was alive, and I had to walk a fair way down the road to produce this display for you. When I walked back into the house, the Airport connected again automatically: if you can get your signal back you do not have to do anything other than re-try your send and receive.

If you are using an Airport or other 802.11 connection, the signal travels by radio waves at extremely high frequency. A brick wall, or a microwave oven, or a passing truck will interfere with the signal, and may render the connection unusable. An 802.11a connection is at least ten times less capable of handling interference than an 802.11b connection: it uses a much shorter wavelength. If you are on the road, move. You will find that a movement of less than a foot will sometimes bring the signal back, due to the extremely short wavelengths in use. If you have your laptop on your lap, move your chair slightly: six inches might do it. If you are the network administrator, and you have not Enabled Interference Robustness in your Airport Setup, try that. Don't expect miracles.

Obtaining an initial connection to a network is outside the scope of this FAQ.

  1. Follow the procedures in the Apple Help for Establishing a Network Connection.
  2. Call your ISP or System Administrator

Check PPP Setup

If you are pinging the host OK, the next things to check are:

  • Bad Port configuration. Check that you have not overridden the default Ports in Advanced options. If you have, why? You should be sending on Port 25 and receiving on Port 110 unless told otherwise.
  • Antivirus program. Various Internet antivirus programs install a proxy mail server so they can intercept email on the way to Entourage. If you are running one of these, consult the manufacturer's literature (Help file) to see how you should configure Entourage to use it. Normally, the antivirus program will change your mail server to something you do not recognize (such as 127.0.0.1) when you install it. If you change this to the details provided by your ISP, your mail may not work and you will lose your antivirus protection.
  • Proxy Server. If you, your company, or your ISP uses a Proxy server, obtain the correct configuration for this. These are common on high-speed connections. Obtain configuration information from your ISP if that is the case.
  • Firewall configuration. If you are running a firewall, check that Ports 25/110 are open, or that Entourage is set to use the ports that are open, and that your ISP uses the ports that are open. On a high-speed connection, the Firewall and the Proxy Server are often the same device.

Monitor your traffic...

Really, we have reached the end of normal fault-finding. If you have some technical skill, you may wish to walk the final mile:

"Packet sniffing" or "Port trace"

How to use tcpflow to monitor your traffic.