Russ Harvey Consulting - Computer and Internet Services

Programs with Access Problems

Browsers | Email | Other Programs

Internet Access Missing for Specific Programs

This page doesn't deal with general problems in accessing the Internet (i.e. you have no Internet access at all). If that is your problem, check out the hints in Troubleshooting Your Internet Connection.

Rather this involves times when a specific program is having access issues while other programs don't.

The most common issues are with browsers and email programs.

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Browser Security & Access Issues

IE Especially Vulnerable

Internet Explorer (IE) is very tightly tied into the Windows operating system — any vulnerabilities expose your whole Windows system to attack. No other browser does this.

Spyware and Toolbars

Those that run IE for all their surfing will gradually find their system is running slower and slower since IE's design flaws allow it to install spyware, toolbars and other malicious software merely by visiting a website.

More recent IE versions are safer, but Internet Explorer places you at greater risk than any other browser out there.

Programs Using IE Components

Alternative browsers and email clients that use IE components to display HTML messages (anything but plain, unenhanced text) inherit IE's vulnerabilities.

Firefox Recommended

Download Firefox: Committed to you, your privacy and an open Web

Firefox is strongly recommended as the only major independent browser.

Potential Culprit in Connection Issues

Internet security vulnerabilities, including Windows security weaknesses and web browser weaknesses, may have something to do with failed Internet connections.

Most problems with access for browsers are relatively simple to track and fix. If you are not sure that you have working Internet access, first troubleshoot your Internet connection.

ZoneAlarm Permission Needed

As with other programs seeking Internet access, ZoneAlarm must be told to allow your web browser(s) to have access to the Internet. See the ZoneAlarm documentation for more information, particularly the Internet Access Issues section.

Proxies, On-line Status, etc.

There are several other factors that can create a problem with access to the Internet for your web browser.

Browser Proxy Settings

Each browser has proxy settings but most browsers make the changes in the System settings.

  • Firefox click on the Firefox menu then Options. Select the Advanced tab and choose the Network tab in the Advanced Options section. Click on Settings to open the Connection Settings window. Use system proxy settings is the default, but selecting No proxy will allow you to determine if proxies are the problem.
  • Chrome click on the Chrome menu then Settings (opens a new tab). Click on Show advanced settings then look under Network. If Google Chrome is using your computer's system proxy settings isn't indicated, click on Change proxy settings then follow the instructions for system proxy settings.
  • Internet Explorer click on the cog menu then Internet Options. Follow the instructions for system proxy settings.
  • Opera click on the Opera menu then Settings (opens a new tab). Scroll down to the Network section and click the Change proxy settings (if Opera is using your computer's system proxy settings isn't indicated). Follow the instructions for system proxy settings.
  • Safari click on Safari then Preferences then select Advanced. Click on Change Settings next to Proxies and follow the instructions for Mac users under the system proxy settings.

Browser Off-line Settings

Most browsers have removed the menu by default and users don't have the ability to quickly go off-line.

Firefox shows the following dialogue box which automatically restores online access when you click the “Try Again” button.

Firefox in off-line mode.

Other browsers with the capability to go off-line will have a similar mechanism to notify the user and to restore on-line status.

Pop-up Blockers

Be sure that pop-up blockers are not stopping access to a site. Most browsers provide some sort of notice that a site is being blocked.

Be Sure the Specific Browser Isn't the Problem

Check to see if you operating system's default browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge or Safari) continues to work. If so, the problem is with the specific browser that is unable to access the Internet.

Are Addons the Problem?

First try running the browser without any extensions (or with them disabled).

When you're sure the browser has access to the Internet you can reinstall (or re-enable) these one-at-a-time testing access after each one. If access is stopped again, the last extension installed/enabled is interfering with Internet access. You should see if a newer version fixes the problem or discontinue using the extension.

Try Reinstalling the Browser

If that doesn't work, you may need to uninstall and reinstall the problematic browser. Be sure that you are running a current version of every browser installed on your system by checking the download page for your browser.

IE Difficult to Repair

Try installing Firefox if your only browser is Internet Explorer. Microsoft embedded IE into Windows and it cannot be uninstalled.

You may be looking at a complete reinstall of your Windows if IE fails, so you'll want to determine if the problem is unique to IE.

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Email Problems

If you are having difficulty sending or receiving email, there are several things that can be causing this. In many cases, simply restarting your computer will fix the problem. If not, proceed through the possibilities listed below.

Test Your Connection

First, see if you are able to connect to the Internet with your browser. If this works, the issue is with your email program. Otherwise, you need to check your Internet connection.

Can't Send/Receive?

If the browser has access, there are several reasons that you may not be able to send or receive messages:

  1. Your ISP may be having difficulties.
  2. Your email program's settings may be incorrectly configured.
  3. Many cable ISPs deny access unless you are connected to their modem.
  4. Many high-speed ISPs block outgoing messages to other servers.
  5. Your security software may be blocking access.
  6. Your firewall software may be blocking access.

ISP Issues

The issue may be with your ISP.

All providers have problems from time-to-time (most advertise expected ones on their site so their customers can plan around them).

If there is no general outage, then the problem may be related to your email settings.

Email Settings

Be sure that your email program is configured properly.

You will need to ensure that both the incoming and outgoing servers are correctly entered. Your ISP should have information on their website or you can contact them about the correct settings.

Some ISPs (such as Shaw and Telus) are very limited in the email programs they'll support and some continue to use outdated support material.

Since most email programs use the same settings, this shouldn't be a problem except that terminology and the location of these settings may be different. Have a look at your email client's support pages to learn how to configure your program with the information available from your ISP.

Try Your ISP's Webmail to Verify Settings

You can verify email settings by checking them on your ISP's webmail service using your browser. If you don't succeed you can try various combinations to see what is the correct combination.

Most ISPs now provide webmail service to their customers.

Webmail services usually require you use your complete email address (not just your user name) and this may also be required for your email program.

Blocked Incoming Messages

Shaw (and other cable providers) may block incoming messages unless you are directly connected to your Shaw cable connection. In such circumstances, webmail service still works remotely.

With the increase of smart phones and tablets, these providers have had to adapt and provide access from anywhere. You may need to make log into your Shaw account from your computer at home and change settings there to allow access from devices elsewhere.

Blocked Outgoing Messages

If you may get an error message when you try to send a message or simply are unable to send messages, you may be dealing with port-blocking by your ISP.

Many high-speed providers block outgoing messages that are sent to servers other than their own. You may get an error message when you try to send a message or simply be unable to send messages.

This will affect you if your website is not hosted with your email account provider or are using alternative email accounts on different services than your ISP.

Fixing The Problem

You'll either need to look on your email provider's website or call their support line to determine the correct settings to resolve this issue. These can change from time-to-time and can be different for computers and mobile devices.

Here is how you make the settings change in common email programs using the correct outgoing port number:

  • Thunderbird: Click on Tools then Account Settings. Click on Outgoing Server (SMTP), select the affected account and change the Port number to the correct setting.
  • PocoMail 4/Barca 2: Click on Tools then Account Setup. Select the affected account, then click Edit. Click on the Outgoing tab on the left, ensure that Outgoing server port number is selected, then change the Port number to the correct setting.
  • The Bat!: Right-click on the account you want to change then select Properties. Click on Transport in the left menu. The settings is in the Send mail section to the right. Change the Port number to the correct setting.
  • Mac Mail: Click on Mail and select Preferences. Click on the Accounts tab at the top then select the account you want to change. Select Advanced and change the Port number to the correct setting.

There are also other changes that may need to be made to both the incoming and outgoing servers depending upon the requirements of the email service provider. Most now require STARTTLS or TLS and many have other security requirements. Look in the same location as the outgoing port number for these settings.

You will need to make the changes for all email accounts that are not hosted by your ISP (e.g. Shaw or Telus). Click OK to accept the changes when you are done.

Alternative Fix

If your ISP doesn't support alternative SMTP ports, you'll have to use your Shaw, Telus or alternative ISP's SMTP settings for sending mail.

However, this is rarely the case anymore. As more folks move to smart phones and multiple portable devices to access their mail on the go, these ISPs are being forced to adapt or lose their customers.

Most ISPs will recommend IMAP rather than POP/SMTP so that you'll see all your mail on every device you own. (See Email Protocols in the Email Settings section of the Computer Basics & Terminology page for definitions and the limitations of each protocol.)

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Security Programs Can Stop Access

Misconfigured security software (antivirus/antispyware/firewall) can stop Internet access completely or simply break the sending and receiving of emails.

If it couldn't do that, it wouldn't be able to protect your computer.

In many cases, you can restore functionality simply by restarting your computer.

Multifaceted Attacks

Be aware that most of today's attacks are coordinated multifaceted attacks. Simply having an antivirus program is no longer sufficient.

You are vulnerable to drive-by downloads when visiting websites, when opening attached files, when downloading programs and updates containing malware and through many other avenues.

Don't Run Multiple Security Programs

Be careful when running more than one security program on your computer at the same time. This can cause both to fail because the normal activity of a security program (such as blocking access) will look like an attempted infection to the other.

You're better running an integrated security suite than trying to cobble together your antivirus, antispyware/antimalware and firewall protection from different sources.

Ensure Your Security Software is Correctly Configured

You should also be sure that the security software is configured properly. Setting everything to the program's defaults should work for most people.

If your program has become corrupted or indicates that there is a problem with the installation, you should consult the support site for your security program vendor. Be sure you're running the most recent version of the program and that all available updates are installed.

Reinstalling Your Security Software

The next step is to completely uninstall your security software (including the settings and items in your virus vault), reboot, then reinstall the program. You'll want to be sure that you have the most recent downloaded version of the program before you uninstall because you're not safe online without protection.

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www.RussHarvey.bc.ca/resources/e-programs.html
Updated: January 6, 2017

Troubleshooting your Internet connection when you can't access the web.

Other Programs

There are programs besides browsers and email clients that can have issues connecting with the Internet.

  • There are FTP programs designed to upload files for websites (sometimes integrated into web design software).
  • Many modern programs no longer have built-in help. You need to be able to access the Internet to see any help information.
  • Windows Update and program updaters need access.
  • iTunes and similar software is dependent upon databases accessible only on the Internet.
  • More often programs like Google Docs store their data in the cloud which requires access.
  • Social media programs like Facebook and Linked In are exclusively stored on the Internet.
  • Windows 10 is a cloud-based system that depends on Internet access in its default installation configuration.

Check Your Firewall

If other programs (particularly your browser) is able to access the Internet, then the first place to check is the settings on your firewall security software.

Running more than one firewall program (it may be part of your security program) on your computer at the same time can cause both to fail.

ZoneAlarm Recommended

I strongly recommend a current version of ZoneAlarm Extreme Security.

While Check Point offers Free Antivirus + Firewall for personal use ZoneAlarm Extreme Security will provide better protection against a multifaceted attack.

I'll use ZoneAlarm in the examples below. The testing process should be similar with other firewall products. Your product manual or the company's website should give you more information.

Configuring ZoneAlarm Incorrectly Can Stop Internet Access

Programs like ZoneAlarm are designed to protect you from unwanted and dangerous traffic to and from the Internet.

ZoneAlarm denies access to the Internet for everything by default.

If you have not configured ZoneAlarm properly, your Internet service might not work or a particular program may not have access.

To rectify an incorrect installation of ZoneAlarm, you may need to uninstall and reinstall it. The same may be true if ZoneAlarm is not running at all.

In extreme cases you may have to reinstall ZoneAlarm before you're able to uninstall it. (See Uninstalling ZoneAlarm for instructions.)

Testing ZoneAlarm's Firewall Settings

There are many programs tracked by ZoneAlarm and incorrectly choosing to deny access could be the source of your problem.

  • Click the ZoneAlarm icon beside the clock to restore the ZoneAlarm monitor.
  • Click on the Antivirus & Firewall box on the left then click on the Settings next to Application Control.
  • You should see two slider controls labelled Network firewall and Your DefenseNet. Normally, these should both be set to Auto (Max provides more security but also more alerts).
  • Try moving the Network firewall to Off then see if your browser has access to the Internet.

If you are able to access the Internet with ZoneAlarm off, then the problem is with your ZoneAlarm settings and you should probably do a clean install (to remove any incorrect settings).

You'll need to uninstall your Zone Alarm product, reboot, then reinstall using the most current version of the ZoneAlarm product you're using. Be sure to download and install the same version. The license for one product won't work on any other.

Testing Without ZoneAlarm

If the previous test didn't give you access, ZoneAlarm may be corrupted and should be uninstalled.

Once ZoneAlarm has been uninstalled, try your program to see if it has access.

  • If access is restored, then your problem was with ZoneAlarm and you should reinstall it.
  • Otherwise you need to look elsewhere for the source of the blockage of your Internet access.

Do not reinstall ZoneAlarm until you've resolved all problems with access (then do a clean install to remove any settings).

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Related Resources

Related resources on this site:

or check the resources index.

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