How to Log SMTP Traffic to Troubleshoot Windows Mail

Bumper to bumper traffic
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If you suddenly find you can receive but no longer send mail in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express, you are puzzled. That Outlook Express is puzzled, too, is clear when you see the error messages with numbers somewhere beyond 0x800CCC01.

But not all is lost. The first step in re-establishing your ability to send emails is to find out what is wrong (especially after you have checked all your settings and the common remedies don't help) and involves creating a log file of all SMTP traffic. Using this detailed listing of what Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express did and how the server reacted can help you identify — and remedy — the problem.

Log SMTP Traffic to Troubleshoot Email Sending Problems

Now, make Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express log SMTP traffic to help you troubleshoot sending problems:

  • ›› Step by Step Screenshot Walkthrough (using Outlook Express)
  • Select Tools | Options from the menu.
  • In Windows Live Mail and Windows Mail:
    • Go to the Advanced tab.
    • Click Maintenance....
  • In Outlook Express:
    • Go to the Maintenance tab.
  • Make sure E-mail or Mail is checked under Troubleshooting.
  • Click OK or Close.

Now, try to send an email in Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express.

Find the Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail or Outlook Express SMTP Log File

Finding the log file created during the process can turn out to be the most difficult task. You can either find it in your Windows Mail or Outlook Express store folder (it is called "WindowsLiveMail.log" for Windows Live Mail and "Smtp.log" for Windows Mail and Outlook Express) or use Windows file search to look for a file named "WindowsLiveMail.log" or "Smtp.log". If the SMTP server returns an error message, here's what it may mean.