How to troubleshoot email attachment download problems

EQ Admin

EQ Forum Admin
Staff member

Recently there have been an increasing number of email users reporting problems with downloading email attachments across several service providers including Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. The following troubleshooting steps and suggestions can be used to fix issues related to downloading email attachments. Before we begin please remember that as a general rule of thumb you should never open an email attachment that you were not expecting to receive!

The first question to ask yourself when you begin troubleshooting a problem is "what changed?" Have you recently installed or upgraded any programs on your computer? Has your email service provider made any upgrades or policy changes within their systems? When did you first notice the problem? Is it a new problem, and old problem, or has it been a recurring but intermittent problem over several months?

To troubleshoot attachment download issues here are some steps that you can try:
  • Ensure that your anti-virus program is up to date and has the latest definitions installed.
  • Ensure that your firewall program is up to date if you have one installed.
  • If you have Trend Micro click on Virus and Spyware Controls, Settings, and then uncheck the box "Threats in Web Mail Attachments."
  • Temporarily disable email scanning within your anti-virus for a few minutes to rule out your anti-virus program
  • Try using an alternate web browser such as Firefox or Chrome
  • Install a third party download manager
  • If it is a new problem, try a Windows system restore back to a point before the problem started
It is also important to keep in mind that your email service provider may be changing the extension of or blocking email attachments for your protection. For example, Hotmail automatically blocks several kinds of email attachments from being downloaded. When this happens to me I forward the email to my Gmail account. An alternate suggestion that takes a little more time is to ask the original sender to resend the attachment in a file format that will be accepted such as a zip file. For more information on zip files please see our article about compressing email attachments before sending them.

There are also times when an email has multiple attachments resulting in you not being able to download them because your mail program is confused or only displaying the first attachment. This can sometimes happen with older mail programs that display the senders vcard or csv contact information file and not the attachment that you want to download. Again, this is a time when forwarding to a modern mail service such as Gmail or asking the sender to resend without the vcard may fix the problem for you.

Three suggestions for Yahoo Mail users are to switch back to Yahoo Classic, update your Adobe Flash player, and to try the recommendations in the Yahoo Help troubleshooting guide.

Lastly, if you are a Microsoft Outlook user there are a few more things to check on your computer including:
For more help downloading attachments and other email issues please see visit our Email Forum and read our latest Email Articles.
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