What Is SMTP and How SMTP Works
SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. But there is an appealing SMTP full form, Send Mail To People 😉.
POP and IMAP protocols will help you to receive an email from a mail server.
And SMTP is the protocol that will enable you to send your emails to another mail server.
Mainly, the SMTP protocol is used to send email from an email client to your email provider’s mail server.
The SMTP protocol also helps us to send email between two mail servers on the Internet.
SMTP is similar to a mailman; the mailman picks up the mail from your mailbox at your home and then finds the correct route and then delivers it to the destination mailbox.
Imagine, you are using Gmail, a most popular free email service provider to manage your emails.
To use free Gmail account, you are using their domain name, that is gmail.com. The domain, gmail.com indeed will allow you to use their email servers, in return.
Gmail will handle the email server settings. And these settings will direct your incoming and outgoing emails.
As a result, you can access your Gmail account to read and send emails using Gmail’s webmail or their mobile apps or even any other email clients.
Sometimes, you may wish to use a local email client like MS Outlook, Apple Mail, or Mozilla Thunderbird to access your emails.
To access your emails via any email clients, you will need to enter your email provider’s incoming and outgoing mail server settings.
Then only you will be able to manage your emails.
In this case, Gmail’s incoming server settings will tell, Mozilla Thunderbird where it can retrieve your email from and process further.
Gmail’s outgoing mail server setting will tell your email client where it should send your emails.
These outgoing server settings called the SMTP server settings.
The Role of an SMTP Server
Let’s see how the send mail process and the role of SMTP servers play in it.
Meet Usha, and her email address is [email protected]
Though Usha is using Gmail as her free email service provider, she likes to use her favourite email client Mozilla Thunderbird for composing, reading and sending her emails.
To make sure Mozilla Thunderbird can communicate with Gmails’s mail servers, she entered Gmail’s email server settings when she configured Mozilla Thunderbird.
Usha writes an email to her friend Gopal using Mozilla Thunderbird.
Gopal’s email address is [email protected]@zoho.com.
When Usha clicks the send button, then Mozilla Thunderbird sends details like Gopal’s email address, Usha’s email address to Gmail’s SMTP server. It will also include the body and subject of the email message.
Upon receipt, the Gmail’s SMTP server breaks Gopal’s email address into two parts.
First part is the recipient ID or what displays in front of the @ sign.
And the second section will the domain name zoho.com or what displays after the @ sign.
The Gmail SMTP server then goes out to the Internet and run a series of server conversations to locates the SMTP server for the domain name zoho.com.
SMTP of Gmail then passes Usha’s email to Zoho’s SMTP server.
Once Usha’s email arrives at Zoho’s SMTP server it
remains there until Gopal logs into his Zoho account and retrieves the email.
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If you have any questions about SMTP, feel free to comment.