Importance of SMTP
There are few people today, young or old, who do not use email. In fact, over 280 billion emails are sent daily. No one can deny that email is a valuable business tool to reach your target demographics, regardless what it is. Although most of the population uses email, it is a mystery to most people. We will assist you so that you learn how email works. In this article we will specifically teach you how SMTP works, answering the question What does an SMTP server do?
What is SMTP
SMTP is a standard for communicating between computers that allows emails to be sent from one computer to another. It stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. For the user’s purposes SMTP is used only when referring to sending email. SMTP servers can accept SMTP connections on port 25 as unsecured connections (non-SSL for example), but most servers expect connections on port 587 or 465 for secure connections of SSL, TLS, or STARTTLS security extensions.
What is an SMTP Server?
An SMTP server accepts mail that it must forward on to another computer. SMTP servers are not the receiving endpoint servers in the mail sending process. The first server the client’s email program sends to is an SMTP server and every server in between the client and the recipient is an SMTP server except for the final server.
What is that final server called that the last SMTP server must hand off the email to? It is either a POP3 server or an IMAP server. These are both used for the final stage of receiving emails and placing them in users’ inboxes. They function differently with regards to how they handle the management of emails at the time that the client software checks the email on them as servers. You as the sender only need to concern yourself with that first SMTP server. It is typically located at your email provider’s location or on your own server if you have your own dedicated server. A great alternative for businesses is to have a free SMTP server they use for mail sending. You can read more about free SMTP servers here and go sign up for one today. It is free!
What Does an SMTP Server Do?
When you send an email it seems to go right away. However, that are some concrete steps the email goes through before it arrives in the recipient’s inbox. These are the steps.
- After completing the TO: email address, the SUBJECT: box and the MESSAGE/CONTENT: box, the user clicks a button for sending the email. This initiates the process.
- The user’s email client program sends the connection communication to his SMTP server. If the user has his own domain then his client program communicates with his domain’s SMTP server. If the user has signed up for a free SMTP server then the client program communicates with that service’s SMTP server.
- Once the connection is accepted the client program sends all information on the email to the SMTP server. That includes the TO, SUBJECT, and MESSAGE information.
- If the recipient’s address is on the same domain, then the SMTP server delivers it directly to the recipient’s POP3 or IMAP server.
- If the recipient’s address in on a different domain, the SMTP server communicates with the DNS (Domain Name Server) to obtain the corresponding IP address to that domain. Think of the IP address as the parallel to the street address of a house. It consists of 4 digits separated by three corresponding periods. Each digit may be up to 3 places long. An example of an IP address is 188.8.131.52 (Googles’s DNS server’s IP address) or 184.108.40.2061
- The user’s server then connects to the one at that IP address.
- The user’s server then relays the email information to the recipient’s server.
- The recipient’s server scans the email to determine if it is coming from an IP address that is blacklisted or not.
- If the sender’s IP address is not considered blacklisted the recipient’s SMTP server will pass it to the recipient’s POP3 or IMAP server.
Using Free SMTP Servers
The single most convincing reason for relying on free SMTP servers is that you shift most of the burden of email delivery to the third party service provider. The chances of your emails ending up in the spam folder is slim to none. You also gain malware protection.
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