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What is SMTP?

Read all you need to know about SMTP

SMTP stands for simple mail transfer protocol. You might have previously heard of POP and IMAP protocols used to receive email. Basically, every time you receive an email, whether you’re using POP or IMAP, these protocols enable you to receive an email. 

SMTP is a protocol for sending emails; it enables you to send emails. SMTP is a set of commands your email client uses that authenticates and directs the transfer of emails you’re sending.

How does the SMTP protocol work?

S: ending
M: ail
T:o
P:eople

The above is an acronym for SMTP. As mentioned above, when you send an email via an email client, the email you’ve sent travels from your computer to your email server using the SMTP protocol. If the email you’ve sent cannot get transferred to your email server, it’ll also not transfer to the recipient’s inbox. 

How does an SMTP server work?

The email server that enables you to send emails is the SMTP server (you can configure these options in your email client). Once the email is transferred to the SMTP server, using the SMTP protocol, it’s the SMTP server that transfers your email to your receipt inbox. Then, the recipient accesses their email account and downloads the email from their email server using POP or IMAP, or they can access the email through a webmail

SMTP and TCP

SMTP uses a TCP protocol. A TCP protocol is a connection-oriented protocol and guarantees that all emails get delivered. Meaning, if you’ve written down the correct email address to your recipient, the TCP protocol will ensure that your email will land in their inbox. 

If, for example, you’ve misspelt the recipient’s email address or if the recipient has deleted their email address and it no longer exists, you’ll get a failed email delivery message informing you that the email could not be sent. 

Basically, SMTP is like a mailman who picks up our letters and delivers them to the recipient’s mailbox. Without SMTP, reaching out to our contacts via emails would be challenging. It would be as if the mailman never came to our house to pick up our letters and transfer them to the correct address. SMTP enables and ensures that our emails reach their destination successfully.