IT Services

General Email/Communications Problems


1. General Email/Communications Problems

One of the most common problems presented to the OUCS Help Centre is something along the lines of 'my email has stopped working.' This page gives some advice on diagnosing such problems.

Can you still access the University Home Page ( with your web browser?

  • If the answer is YES then check the OUCS system status pages at for current problems with the network or mail servers. If all seems OK, then the problem is probably specific to your email configuration - see the section below on email configuration problems for further advice.
  • If the answer is NO then your computer's basic communication setup has a problem - see the sections below on ethernet communication problems and modem connection problems for further advice.
    If you are using a University wireless connection (OWL or Eduroam), make sure that is working properly. More details at Be aware that if you need a working Remote Access account, which is separate from your Single Sign-On account, and if you are using OWL you have to have VPN running.
    If you are using a commercial service provider to supply your broadband or dial-up connection (such as BT, Virgin, TalkTalk,...), please contact them if you have connection problems.

Can you access the web-based email interface at

If the answer is YES then it looks like your account is working and the problem lies in the configuration of the program you use to read your email (email clients such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Mac Mail).
If the answer is NO, try these in the order listed:
  1. Check the error message. If it says You could not be logged on to Oxford Nexus. Make sure that your user name and password are correct, and then try again. you may be using the wrong username or password. If you have forgotten your password, you can re-set it at
  2. Is you university card valid? If your card has expired, you will not be able to access your email. If you are still a member of the University, please contact your department or college administrator to get your card renewed.
  3. Try logging in to another service with your Single Sign-On account, such as WebLearn. If that doesn't work, there may be a problem with your account. The most common is that the university card has expired (see above). If that is not the case, please contact the OUCS Help Centre for advice. If you can access WebLearn but not your web-based email, check the OUCS system status pages to make sure that there is no general problem with the Nexus service. If not, please contact the OUCS Help Centre for advice.

2. Email Configuration Problems

Have you changed your email account password recently?

If the answer is YES then, the most likely problems are:
  • Your old password is stored somewhere in your email client settings and needs updating. For details on how to do this, see the separate web page at
  • Your new password is not yet active.

  • Your new password is being entered incorrectly - remember to distinguish upper- and lower-case letters, a zero from a letter "O" etc.

Have you changed any other email settings recently?

If the answer is YES then, the most likely problems are:

  • You have mis-entered a setting.

  • You have entered an incorrect or inappropriate value.

In either case (or even if you are not aware of changing any settings) carefully check your client configuration details. There are guides available for Nexus email at If you still can't resolve the problem, contact the OUCS Help Centre who can check whether there is any obvious problem with your account.

3. Ethernet Connection Problems

This section is intended to help you diagnose communications problems more commonly associated with on-campus ethernet connections. If they do not solve your problem, please contact the IT support staff for the building where you are.

Is your ethernet adapter hardware installed correctly?
  • Correct installation is indicated in a number of ways:

    • On Windows systems, look for a "working properly" report on the System Control Panel's Device Manager.

    • On Windows systems, using a PCMCIA "credit-card" style ethernet adapter, check for a correct entry in the PC Card Control Panel, and a rising pair of tones when the card is inserted.

Is your ethernet adapter connected to the network correctly?
  • Most ethernet adapters have one or more small lights which illuminate to indicate network activity. After system start-up is completed, one of these should flash fairly rapidly. If this doesn't happen, try a different cable or ethernet wall socket.

Is your network communications software configured correctly?
  • Internet communications such as email and web-browsing involves the use and correct configuration of TCP/IP communications protocols. TCP/IP configuration can vary betwwen different University units. Contact your local IT support staff for details about your local set-up. Misconfigured TCP/IP settings are a common source of problems. On Windows 95/98 systems, the best way to do a quick check of your current TCP/IP settings is to run the WINIPCFG utility via the Start menu's Run option. Windows NT4 and 2000 systems have a slightly different utility called IPCONFIG which needs to be run from an Command Prompt.

4. Modem Connection Problems

This section is intended to help you diagnose problems specific to modem-based connections over a telephone line.

Do you get "Can't communicate with modem" messages?

If the answer is YES then you can problem is most likely to be with your modem installation. Check that all the modem cables are firmly in place and, if it's an external modem, that it's powered on. On Microsoft Windows systems, the System Control Panel's Device Manager can help you diagnose problems. The PC Card Control Panel can also indicate the correct recognition of PCMCIA ("credit-card" style) modems in notebook machines.

Do you get "No Dial Tone" messages?

If the answer is YES then you can problem is most likely to be with a faulty or incorrect phone cable or other hardware problem. Try using a different phone cable, or a different phone socket.

Does your modem dial but never connects properly?

If the answer is YES, i.e. you hear dialling and you never get as far as hearing the modem "warbling" as it negotiates with the server, then you may have an incorrect modem setting, for example a wrong telephone number or prefix code.

Does your modem connect, but fails when trying to authenticate your username/password?

If the answer is YES then the problem is most likely to be a problem with your dial-up password. If this is stored in your local configuration (i.e. you're not prompted to enter it each time) then check the stored setting - see the separate web page at

Does your modem connect successfully to the server but soon gets disconnected?

If the answer is YES then there may some specific extra configuration or adjustment needed for your particular modem.