Troubleshooting “Outlook cannot connect to the server” error

Like any other software, Microsoft Outlook throws errors from time to time. “Outlook cannot connect to the server” is a common error that prevents you from sending or receiving emails. As this can be both critical and annoying, let’s jump right into the fix.


Start with a simple reboot

Ask any tech or girl, and a reboot is the first thing they’d recommend. Every time you run a PC, countless things happen in the background, and a temporary glitch in one of these processes can prevent Outlook from connecting to the Internet.

Thus, a reboot is recommended as it flushes all processes and fixes many related issues. Restart your Outlook and your PC to see if that fixes the problem.

Check your credentials

More often than not, we overlook the simplest solution, and in this case, it may be wrong credentials. You may have misspelled your username or password, especially if you are setting it up for the first time.

So at first, check if you have the correct credentials. To do this:

  • Open Outlook.
  • Go to File -> Info -> Account & Social Media Settings -> Account Settings. This will take you to the Settings window.

Outlook cannot connect to the server

  • Go to the Email tab and select your account. Look for the delete icon on the top panel and click it to delete the account.
  • Once the account is deleted, go to the homepage and log in with the correct credentials. Check spelling, whitespace (if applicable), and all characters.

Now check if you can connect to the internet.

Make sure Outlook is online

If your credentials are correct and you still can’t log in, check if your Outlook is online. This is important because, in offline mode, Outlook cannot connect to Microsoft Exchange servers and therefore generates the error “Outlook cannot connect to the server”.

To resolve this problem :

  • Go to the Send/Receive tab in Outlook.
  • Look for an option called “Work Offline” and click on it.

Outlook cannot connect to the server

This option disables offline mode, so that your Outlook automatically connects to the server. Also look at the bottom right and you will see the message “Attempting to connect…”. Once the connection is established, Outlook will connect to the server and you can send and receive emails.

Connect your computer to the Internet

When the error “Outlook cannot connect to the server” persists, check if your computer is connected to the Internet. Although it may seem simple, we often take internet connections for granted, so we may miss router and adapter issues.

Open any other application like your browser to check if your computer is connecting to the internet. If not, look at the network adapter or restart your PC and router to see if that resolves your internet connection.

An important note here. Outlook requires a stable internet connection to work. So, if you have an unstable Internet connection that often drops, or the WiFi signal is not strong, Outlook cannot connect to the Internet. Troubleshoot these connection issues to see if Outlook can connect to the server.

Problem with Microsoft Exchange Server

Although the chances of a Microsoft Exchange server being down/offline are less, it is something you cannot rule out.

The easiest way to find out if there is a problem with the Exchange server is to go to File -> Info -> Account and social settings -> Account settings. If you see an orange icon on the left side, right next to your account, there is a problem with the server.

This doesn’t require any patching on your part, unless, of course, you’re the administrator responsible for your organization’s Exchange server. You can connect to the internet once the servers are back online.

Obsolete version

Bugs are common in all applications, and Outlook is no exception. To fix them, Microsoft sends out updates, which are nothing but codes that fix identified bugs. These are automatically installed and you don’t have to do anything.

However, if you canceled or postponed an update, you do not have the latest version and therefore the identified bug remains unfixed.

To update to the latest version:

  • Go to File -> Office Account
  • On the right side of the screen, you will see the update options.
  • When you click on it, Windows automatically downloads and installs updates on your computer.

Also, remember to update your Windows operating system.

After the updates are complete, restart the system and check if you can connect to the Internet.

Repair Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is able to repair itself in case of minor issues.

To start this repair process:

  • Go to File -> Info -> Account & Social Settings -> Account Settings
  • Select your account and tap the repair icon located just above
  • You may be asked to confirm your selection and possibly enter the password associated with your account.

Once you confirm, Outlook will start the repair process. Even if it cannot solve the problem, it will tell you what the problem is, so that you can solve it by other means.

Corrupt .PST files

Sometimes the error is too complex for Outlook to handle. For example, when PST files (where all your data is stored) become too large and corrupt, Outlook can generate errors. This is quite a serious problem that can even lead to the loss of all your data.

To resolve this problem, run built-in repair utilities such as ScanPST, as this utility can repair minor corruptions. But if the corruption is severe then consider using third party tools to repair your corrupt PST files.

Disable extensions

Most Outlook extensions are verified. Still, some can interfere with Outlook processes and cause “Outlook cannot connect to the server” error.

To focus on this problem, disable all extensions and then try to connect.

  • Go to File -> Options -> Add-ins. This brings up all the add-ins in the right pane.
  • Navigate down and from the drop-down list choose COM Add-ins. Click the Go button.
  • Next, uncheck all extensions and press the OK button.
Outlook cannot connect to the server


This will remove all extensions. Restart Outlook to see if that fixes the error.

If it works, you know where the problem is. To identify the problematic extension, you can add them all back in, then disable each extension, one at a time, to identify which one is causing the problem.

Recreate the Outlook Data File

As we have seen before, data files are the source of many errors because they quickly become large, unwieldy or even corrupt.

If these files are causing the problem, consider creating a new data file. To do this:

  • Go to File -> Info -> Account & Social Media Settings -> Account Settings.
  • Go to the Data Files tab and select the email ID causing the problem.
  • Look for an option called “Open file location”. When Windows Explorer opens, copy your data file to another location. You can also temporarily change the file extension.
  • Restart Outlook and it will try to recreate the data file for you.

When using this option, remember that the old data will not be accessible, so you will have to find ways to repair the old Outlook data file to extract the data from it.

Recreate your profile

If the problem is with your profile, consider recreating your Outlook profile without deleting the old one, just in case you choose to roll back.

To recreate your profile:

  • Open Control Panel -> Mail.
  • Click the Add button to add a new profile and give it a name.
  • Follow the Outlook wizard process to set it up.

Now go to the profile and see if you can connect to the internet. If the new profile works, feel free to delete the old one after saving the necessary data.

Reinstall Outlook

If none of the other options work, reinstall Outlook, although as any IT pro knows, this is usually the absolute last option.

To conclude, the “Outlook cannot connect to the server” error is common and can usually be fixed easily. But you’ll have to browse through many options to see which one would work best for you. We hope one of the fixes above will do the trick for you!

Let us know which one worked in the comments section.

Featured Image: Pixabay

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