POP: telnet to POP Server

Published by

Posted on November 09, 2008

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