Telnet - POP Commands (retrieving mail using telnet)

In order to access your mailbox you will need 4 things: The first thing to do is to open a connection from your computer to your mail server.
telnet mail.domain.ext 110
You should receive a reply like:
Trying ???.???.???.???...
Connected to mail.domain.ext.
Escape character is '^]'.
+OK ready


Then log in:
USER userName
This should give you:
+OK Password required for userName.

Now give your password:
PASS passW0rd
Should yeild:
+OK userName has ? visible messages (? hidden) in ????? octets.
If it doesn't please see possible problems.

To see a list of your emails awaiting collection use the LIST command, this will also show you the id number of your messages (e.g. 1 or 2 etc.)
To view the contents of an email type RETR + the id number of the message (e.g RETR 1).
To delete a message use DELE + the id number of the message (e.g DELE 1).
To leave your mailbox and close the connection use QUIT

Here are a list of problems I've encountered and their fixes

-ERR [AUTH] Password supplied for "userName" is incorrect.
The password supplied was not the one expected by the server, retype the password, failing that find out if you've got the correct password.

-ERR [AUTH] PAM authentication failed for user "userName": Authentication failure (7)
Your mailbox could not be broken down into seperate emails correctly, there may be a remnant of a message left - Ask your ISP to edit the mailbox manually and look for free lines above the headers.

452 4.4.5 Insufficient disk space; try again later
The mailserver cannot write the temporary files needed to allow you to collect your mail - ask your ISP to check disk useage and allocation on the server

-ERR [SYS/TEMP] Unable to copy mail spool file, quota exceeded (122)
The mailserver cannot create a temporary file needed to allow you access to your mailbox as you've run out of your space allocation - Try to reduce the amount of disk space you are using on that server (this quota may be shared between your mail, web and userspace), alternatively contact your ISP to increase your quota.

-ERR [IN-USE] /???/???/.userName.pop lock busy! Is another session active? (11)
The mailbox is currently in use by another connection or an old connection has terminated uncleanly - This will deal with itself

Overquota locking file '/???/???/???/userName.lock'; lock proceeding anyway


Unable to process From lines (envelopes) in /???/???/???/userName; change recognition mode or check for corrupted mail drop.
The mailbox cannot be split into seperate messages because the pop server cannot recognise distinct boundaries or the boundaries do not include the whole mailbox

Some things to watch out for:
1. If you type too quickly, sometimes it won't recognise your text (weird!)
2. The backspace key sometimes does not work with some telnet clients (even though it may seem as though it does)

I'll be putting more as and when I get them and figure out how to fix each problem.


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