Troubleshooting Error Code 0x800ccc0e

Sending and receiving emails over the network involves the transmission of data to and from common application services such as network services and mail services. At the lower levels in the technology stack, email is sent to services identified by their well known port numbers. Between email clients and email servers the port number used is port 25 for sending emails over TCP/IP networks.

On most email servers, a background process, or daemon, will listen to port 25 for any incoming email. This is the port that clients make socket connections in order to be able to send their emails. Sometimes the port is blocked or unavailable on the email server.

When retrieving email from the server there is another port that can also be blocked and thus prevent emails from being receive. If port 110 is blocked then the client cannot pull down their messages.

Sometimes administrators will block port 25 to stop the flow of spam and/or viruses from their servers. The problem is that you’re effectively throwing the baby out with the bathwater. To be able to send emails and also prevent spam or viruses you need to be able to write some kind of filtering code.

This can get sticky if you’ve outsourced your email servers. Your control is obviously limited in this scenario.

However if you have some control over the email server you can configure your settings such that the ports used for sending and receiving are different than the standard ports of 25 and 110. Spam will still be directed – thru email – to ports that essentially become bit buckets. You decrease your exposure to risk while still maintaining your normal business operations which include communication by email.

How will you know if your ports are blocked?

If you’re using Exchange server clients to send or receive messages you’ll know by the type of error messages you get when you try to send a message to your Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) server. One of the error messages you might receive will look like the following:

“The connection to the server has failed. Account: ‘your_account’,
Server:’your_SMTP_server’, Protocol:SMTP, Port: 25, Secure(SSL): NO,
Socket error: 10061, Error Number: 0x800ccc0e”

Note that the specific port number 25 is listed in the error message.

And if you are trying to receive emails from your Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) email server, then the error message you might receive will look like this:

“The connection to the server has failed. Account: ‘your_account’,
Server:’your_POP3_server’, Protocol:POP3, Port: 110, Secure(SSL): NO,
Socket error: 10061, Error Number: 0x800ccc0e”

Here you see port 110 listed in the error message.

Both of these messages indicate that ports 25 and 110 are unavailable. While these can prevent email attacks from occurring and prevent viruses from spreading they as already mentioned negatively impact the sending and receiving of emails. Thus, as an administrator you need to know who to investigate the status of these ports and how to turn back on these ports (listeners).

The most common utility to use for investigation is the “netstat” command.

The “netstat” command is often used for displaying the contents of the routing table but can also be used to verify if those services are running on ports 25 and 110. Normally these ports are “up” and running whenever the services for the Exchange Server are started. Port 110 for the Post Office Protocol version 3 (POP3) is automatically started on the Exchange server as soon as the Information Store service is started. And when the Internet mail service is started then port 25 is also started. To verify that they are up and running you can perform the following steps.

  • Go down to the Start button and click on it to bring up the menu.
  • Pull right on All Programs and then again pull right on Accessories.
  • Select Command Prompt to bring up a command prompt window.
  • You might want to increase the screen buffer size to make viewing of the command output easier to read. You can do so by right clicking in the upper left corner of the command prompt window. Click Properties and the click on the Layout tab. Increase the screen buffer size to something like 600 or 700 – whatever is your preference. Save the change for the current window or modify the shortcut which started the window if you are comfortable with the change.

Now you’re ready to run the netstat  command. Type in “netstat –an”, hit enter and then watch all that output of services go scrolling by. Because of the change you made above you’ll be able to scroll backward and look for the lines that indicate that your listeners (ports) are up and running.

Proto  Local Address     Foreign Address        State
TCP    0.0.0.0:25             0.0.0.0:0              LISTENING
TCP    0.0.0.0:110           0.0.0.0:0              LISTENING

If you cannot find these entries then this means that those services are obviously not running and you will need to troubleshoot further.

Written by Mike Rede

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