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What are Mail Servers

17/01/2017

SMTP and POP3 help make email services possible. SMTP is the more popular of the two as it is used by most email systems using the internet for sending mail. These messages can be accessed using IMAP or POP. SMTP sends messages from client to server, whereas POP3 retrieves the messages from the email provider. This underlines the need to choose the IMAP server or POP, as well as the SMTP one when setting up your email.

Outgoing Mail Server

SMTP is a short form for simple mail transfer protocol. Anytime someone talks about a SMTP server, they are often referring to the outgoing mail server. This server is not the easiest to maintain, or keep secure, so only a handful of hosting companies offer it.

SMTP service enables a client to send emails to any registered email addresses. It executes this through a two-step process. The first step is of verification that the person sending the email through the SMTP server has the authority to do so. The second step is sending the email, and in the event that it is not delivered, it is returned to sender. The SMTP server purposed for sending emails has to be configured into your email client. To ensure there are no errors, you can configure your email provider to retrieve mail from the SMTP Server through IP address or your domain name.

Incoming Mail Server

POP3 is a short form for Post Office Protocol Version 3. It is made up of mailboxes used by different email systems, and enables a user to access email from the server where it is kept. POP3 allows users who have registered domain servers to have mailboxes. If you are the registered owner of the domain, you can send and receive emails at anyname@yourdomain.com. POP3 offers a very intuitive way for accessing emails.

Email clients, or email applications typically use POP, though it is not unusual to find a few using IMAP. Setting up email accounts on POP3 requires that you have a domain hosted on a server that has nameservers.

We’ve already established that POP3 enables a client’s device to receive email from its assigned POP3 server. But it doesn’t give the provision of sending email. POP is, therefore, more ideal for computers or devices that are not permanently connected to a network. They need a virtual ‘post office’ to safe keep their mail until the moment they are online again.

Pros and Cons of POP3

POP3 emails require special software for emails to be received and sent. There are common apps that enable this, such as Outlook, Netscape Messenger, Outlook and Eudora. POP is the oldest protocol for sending emails. It is immensely popular, and therefore supported by almost all email clients. It was built to be used offline. Email is received at a server, and then the email client can download these emails to the user’s computer. Once delivered, these messages are erased from the server. The advantage here is that once messages are conveyed to the user’s computer, they can be accessed regardless of whether there is an internet connection.

The disadvantage is that the functionalities of POP3 don’t favour the user on the go. As messages are downloaded to one master computer, they can only be accessed from that one source. One way to work around this is to enable the option that allows the server to hold the messages temporarily. Or you could just switch to IMAP instead.

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