You’ve got mail

My plan for today is (which most of you will probably find boring) to explain you what exactly happens when you press the “send” button after you typed in your e-mail message and filled out the recipient.

First of all, the company or organization or whatever that provides your e-mail address (hotmail, gmail, yahoo, …) has at least one e-mail server available.
When you hit the send button, your e-mail client will connect to this server and send the data you have entered.
This server is commonly called the outgoing SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) server.

And ofcourse, the person you are sending an e-mail to also has an e-mail address which belongs to a company, organization, whatever and they also have a mailserver.
So, when the time is right, “YOUR” SMTP server will connect to your “RECIPIENT’S” SMTP server and pass the message.
For the tech dudes amongst you, SMTP runs on port 25.

Great, the e-mail is now on it’s way. When your recipient decides to check his messages, this time the e-mail client connects to the SMTP server and starts to download the available messages. This time the protocol POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3, no I don’t know what happened to the other 2) is used. The POP3 server is generally called the incoming POP3 server. Run on port 110. This protocol is actually just used to download mail messages, it doesn’t really have a lot of other features.

But now, for the 1 million dollar question, how does the SMTP server know where to send the mail? There are quite a lot of mail servers around the globe.
Well this information is stored in MX records. An MX record shows which SMTP server must be used for the specific email address you entered in your e-mail client.

The database, for the ones of you not familiar with this term: the collection, of MX records is maintained by the DNS (domain name server).

In short, this is how you send your lovely mails to… well… anyone.

Try my SMTP server! Send me a mail! ;-)


One thought on “You’ve got mail

  1. Pingback: The Mailman Configuration « Tech-o-rama

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