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Access mailbox using command line client

Sometimes it is required to Access mailbox using command line client like telnet, PuTTY etc. to troubleshoot the e-mail downloading issues in POP3 mail client. If one of the email in the mailbox is corrupted then every time you try to receive emails through pop3 client, error will pop up there which will prevent downloading of healthy emails also. In those circumstances you can Access mailbox using command line client like telnet, PuTTY etc. The following video illustrates how to connect to POP3 Server using PuTTY.

  1. Open Command prompt by typing “cmd” in Run dialog box except double quotes
  2. At command prompt type “telnet incoming_server 110” except double quotes. Here incoming_server is your Incoming mail server’s host address. The server will greet you with POP3 Banner message.
  3. Type user your_email_address and then press enter. e.g. “user mail@domain.com”
  4. Server will ask for password. Supply password using pass password e.g. “pass mail”
  5. Upon successful authentication your mail box will be locked.
  6. Issue stat command to check how many e-mails are there in mailbox along with total size of all mails. Server will respond with “+OK 1 379”. Here 1 indicates number of messages and 379 indicates total size all e-mails. POP3 Client application issues quit command if the server response is “+OK 0 0” which means there is no mail in the mailbox.
  7. Issue list command to get the list of individual e-mails along with size of individual mail.
  8. If you want to retrieve the mail then issue retr command followed by the message number you want to retrieve (e.g. retr 1 or retr 12). POP3 client applications issue retr command for all the e-mails to download one by one. In response to retr command server send contents of that mail to the client. Please refer above video.
  9. If you want to delete the mail then issue dele command followed by the message number which you want to delete (e.g. dele 1 or dele 12). POP3 client applications issue dele command for all messages one by one after successful download and filing in mail database of all messages if “Leave a copy of messages on the server” is not selected. If “Leave a copy of messages on the server” is selected then POP3 client will not issue dele command. Now if “Leave a copy of messages on the server” is selected in combination with “Remove from server after” say 3 days, then POP3 client maintains a table in its database which contains all the details like the time stamp when message was downloaded, message identifier, the incoming mail server through which it downloaded messages, the account id of mail client through which it downloaded messages etc. (please note this is not the exact list) so in future every time it downloads messages it will check already downloaded messages in its table which it maintains.
  10. To terminate the session with server issue quit command. In response POP3 Server will send farewell message.

Gopal Thorve

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