That’s the call I had the other day from a panic stricken customer who thought their Internet Service Provider has deleted their email. Thankfully it wasn’t quite that bad but it teaches you never to leave your computer with someone who thinks they know what the problem is instead of knowing what the problem is. Its also a reminder to not go messing with the settings unless you know what you’re doing!

Here’s what happened.

The customers email goes down, it was actually a temporary server problem with the ISP but they were convinced it was their email software (Thunderbird) so they went fiddling with the settings. Now, even when the ISP’s server came back up the email wasn’t being retrieved.

Customer calls ISP who arranges a remote support session to fix the problem. The support tech manages to remove the left hand tree menu from Thunderbird, the bit that says Inbox, Sent Items etc and can’t get it back to normal again. They also can’t set up the email accounts as they don’t know the settings – yes, I’ll say that again – the ISP support guy didn’t know his own email server settings!! Obviously he didn’t admit this and told customer they had a virus and needed to reinstall Windows – not making this up at all!!

This was when I got the call – Help, my ISP deleted my email.

Within five minutes I connected up a remote support session and with about 3 clicks of the mouse got the left hand menu back in Thunderbird. I then updated to the latest version of Thunderbird which worked a lot quicker.

Next I went onto the ISP’s website and found the email server settings, took about a minute. Set up the email accounts and bingo all worked perfectly.

There was no anti virus software installed on the computer so I downloaded Microsoft Security Essentials (free), installed it and ran a scan – thankfully all clean.

Fixing the email and scanning for viruses took in total about 40 minutes and we didn’t need to reinstall Windows !