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Server Emulators (POP3, IMAP, SMTP, FTP, NNTP)
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Articles and video

You may find it helpful to read our articles on Windows security and password recovery examples. Video section contains a number of movies about our programs in action

Network Password Recovery Wizard:
Server Emulators (POP3, IMAP, SMTP, FTP, NNTP)

 

What is virtual server

When switching an e-mail client to another, buying a new computer or reinstalling the operating system, chances to lose or forget the password to your e-mail account are great. Virtual e-mail server is a universal tool for recovering lost e-mail account passwords when the standard recovery tools are difficult or cannot be used for one reason or the other.

Virtual e-mail server emulates the mail server and intercepts all calls made by the e-mail client to it. When you send or receive your e-mail, your e-mail client connects to the mail server and submits your e-mail account's credentials (normally that's a login and password). Thus, the virtual server can capture and display that information to you. The software supports ALL! e-mail programs that use the protocols POP3, IMAP and SMTP, such as MS Outlook Express, MS Outlook, Firefox, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, Opera Mail, TheBat!, IncrediMail, Eudora, etc. Please note that the virtual server can recover only logins or passwords that are stored locally on your computer, in your e-mail application.

Virtual FTP and NNTP (news reader) servers are pretty much similar to the virtual e-mail server; therefore, the majority of what has been said about the virtual e-mail server applies to FTP/NNTP.
 

Emulator restrictions

A virtual e-mail server has a number of restrictions:

  • It is unable to recover passwords to web-based email accounts or to e-mail accounts operating over HTTP.
  • Despite the great number of authentication methods supported by the virtual servers (e.g., CRAM-MD5 or NTLMv1), in some cases the instant recovery is impossible because the e-mail client does not submit the password itself; instead, it submits the password hash.
  • Some authentication types are not supported by Network Password Recovery Wizard. Those, for example, include SPA, widely used in Microsoft products. However, in the majority of cases that restriction can be overridden.
  • Some e-mail applications do not strictly follow the standard protocols IMAP, POP3 and SMTP. Those, for instance, include Outlook Express 4-6, Windows Mail. Unfortunately, each new versions of these popular applications adopt new features that demand different workarounds.
  • Some e-mail clients, despite the strict RFC regulations, use their own authentication mechanisms, not supported by NPRW.
  • Each e-mail client acts by its own communication scenario when opening a connection session. Some applications demand the highest security level right off, regardless to the account settings. Others, the other way around, ignore the authentication type and parameters, failing to provide the required security level, transmitting personal information as plain text. There are even applications that do not support some of the declared authentication types at all.

Implementation

Virtual server has two ways of implementation: manual and automatic operating modes. If the manual mode is selected, user is to configure:
First, the e-mail account in the e-mail client application. For that purpose, open the account properties, take a note of the server's address, replace it with 127.0.0.1 or localhost and then save the account. Once the password is (or is not) recovered, the noted server address is to be returned to its original, lawful place.
Second, in virtual server properties in NPRW, set the necessary protocol port (the application will automatically set the value used by default in the majority of cases) and the extended authentication support if necessary.
Before launching the virtual server, you are recommended to close all other applications' windows. Here is the algorithm of your actions when using the manual operating mode of the virtual server:

  1. Launch your e-mail application.
  2. Open properties for the account which password you want to restore.
  3. Take a note of the incoming (if you need to recover a POP3 or IMAP account password) or outgoing (for SMTP passwords) server address and then replace it with localhost. Take a note of the protocol being used: POP3, IMAP or SMTP.
  4. Save the new account settings. In some cases, you may also need to restart your e-mail application.
  5. Open the NPRW virtual server and then enter the noted protocol address to it (from the account properties).
  6. Launch the virtual server by clicking on the 'Start' button.
  7. Switch to your e-mail application and check your e-mail. If you need to recover an SMTP password, try to send an e-mail message instead. The message text and recipient address don't matter.
  8. If all these steps have been completed properly, NPRW should 'catch' your login and password for this account.
  9. If you have the additional authentication setting enabled in your account, you can try playing with the 'Extended authentication support' option in NPRW. Or temporarily disable the additional authentication in the account's settings. However, you should aware that some applications, including Outlook Express, can easily reset the password itself along with this option's setting.
  10. Repeat steps 1-9 if necessary.

Virtual POP3 server

The virtual server's automatic mode is a bit simpler in the operation and does not require any changes in the original e-mail account. However, you will need to know the mail server address (POP3, IMAP or SMTP, depending on the type of the virtual server you are running). It must be exactly the same as in the account settings. Oftentimes, the server address is identical to the e-mail address minus user name. For example, for the e-mail address user@mydomain.com, the server address is likely to be mydomain.com, mail.mydomain.com, pop.mydomain.com, pop3.mydomain.com, imap.mydomain.com, smtp.mydomain.com, etc. You can also enter the server's IP instead; e.g., 212.178.125.13.
Briefly, here is the algorithm of your actions when using the automatic mode:

  1. Open the virtual server window and enter the original server address and port number. By default, the POP3 protocol uses port 110, IMAP - 143, and SMTP - 25, FTP - 21, NNTP - 119.

  2. Click 'Start' to launch the emulator. If you have any anti-virus or anti-spyware software running, on this step you may get a system configuration change and/or protocol anchor attempt warning. Don't worry; when we are done, NPRW will restore the original configuration. Allow (maybe temporarily) the anchoring to the protocol and the change of the original configuration and continue to the next step.

  3. If the e-mail application is already running, please close it and then restart it all over. Then try to check your e-mail (or send a blank message in the case of SMTP). If everything has been completed properly, the NPRW virtual server's log must contain the original account's login and password (it will be highlighted with the green color). Please note that in the case of an IMAP server you may have to read your IMAP folders all over. In Outlook Express that's the 'IMAP Folders' button or the 'Tools -> IMAP Folders' menu.

  4. If you have the additional authentication setting enabled in your account, you can try to disable the 'Extended authentication support' option in NPRW. In some cases, it may be helpful to temporarily disable the additional authentication in the account's settings. However, you should remember that some applications can reset the password itself along with this option's setting.

  5. Repeat steps 1-5 if necessary.

Mail server emulator has found the password

Using the virtual NNTP or FTP server is completely identical to using the e-mail server. You just need to enter the nntp or ftp server address and attempt to connect to it from your news reader or ftp client.