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A mail server (also known as a mail transfer agent or MTA, a mail transport agent, a mail router or an Internet mailer) is an application that receives incoming e-mail from local users (people within the same domain) and remote senders and forwards outgoing e-mail for delivery. A computer dedicated to running such applications is also called a mail server. Microsoft Exchange, q mail, Exim and send mail are among the more common mail server programs.
The mail server works in conjunction with other programs to make up what is sometimes referred to as a messaging system. A messaging system includes all the applications necessary to keep e-mail moving as it should. When you send an e-mail message, your e-mail program, such as Outlook or Eudora, forwards the message to your mail server, which in turn forwards it either to another mail server or to a holding area on the same server called a message store to be forwarded later. As a rule, the system uses SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) or ESMTP (extended SMTP) for sending e-mail, and eitherPOP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) or IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) for receiving e-mail.
Often referred to as simply "mail server", an e-mail server is a computer within your network that works as your virtual post office. A mail server usually consists of a storage area where e-mail is stored for local users, a set of user definable rules which determine how the mail server should react to the destination of a specific message, a database of user accounts that the mail server recognizes and will deal with locally, and communications modules which are the components that actually handle the transfer of messages to and from other mail servers and email clients. Generally the person responsible for the maintenance of the e-mail server (editing users, monitoring system activity) is referred to as the postmaster. Most mail servers are designed to operate without any manual intervention during normal operation.
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Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is an Internet standard for electronic mail (e-mail) transmission across Internet Protocol (IP) networks. SMTP was first defined by RFC 821 (STD 10) (1982), and last updated by RFC 5321 (2008) which includes the extended SMTP (ESMTP) additions, and is the protocol in widespread use today. SMTP is specified for outgoing mail transport and uses TCP port 25. The protocol for new submissions is effectively the same as SMTP, but it uses port 587 instead.
While electronic mail servers and other mail transfer agents use SMTP to send and receive mail messages, user-level client mail applications typically only use SMTP for sending messages to a mail server for relaying. For receiving messages, client applications usually use either the Post Office Protocol (POP) or the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) or a proprietary system (such as Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes/Domino) to access their mail box accounts on a mail server.
Post Office Protocol (POP)
In computing, the Post Office Protocol (POP) is an application-layer Internet standard protocol used by local e-mail clients to retrieve e-mail from a remote server over a TCP/IP connection. POP and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) are the two most prevalent Internet standard protocols for e-mail retrieval. Virtually all modern e-mail clients and servers support both. The POP protocol has been developed through several versions, with version 3 (POP3) being the current standard. Like IMAP, POP3 is supported by most webmail services such as Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.
Microsoft Exchange Server
Microsoft Exchange Server is the server side of a client-server, collaborative application product developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft line of server products and is used by enterprises using Microsoft infrastructure products. Exchange's major features consist of electronic, calendaring, contacts and tasks; support for mobile and web-based access to information; and support for data storage.
A port number is a way to identify a specific process to which an Internet or other network message is to be forwarded when it arrives at a server. For the Transmission Control Protocol and the User Datagram Protocol, a port number is a 16-bit integer that is put in the header appended to a message unit. This port number is passed logically between client and server transport layers and physically between the transport layer and the Internet Protocol layer and forwarded on.
Outgoing Email Server
Email clients require an address for the outgoing email server and the POP3 or incoming server in order to collect and send mail. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide these addresses to customers at the time a subscription or contract is enacted, and mail server addresses are also commonly listed on the ISPs' website. In some cases both outgoing and incoming mail will be handled by a single server, such as mail.[yourisp].com; but often the outgoing email server address resembles smtp.[yourisp].com, and the incoming address, pop3.[yourisp].com.
Authentication is required to access an outgoing email server, consisting of the username and password associated with the customer's ISP account. This protects the ISP from handling outgoing email generated by non-customers, which could quickly bog down its resources. Additionally, authentication allows the server's administration to more easily control activity on its outgoing email server to help prevent abuses like spam and fraud.
Once mail is sent to an outgoing email server, the associated SMTP server reads the headers in the email message in order to relay the message to its destination. A dialog begins between itself and the next mail server along the route. The dialog takes the form of a set of requests and responses, which moves the mail forward to its ultimate destination. The mail might travel though several intermediary hosts before reaching the host that serves as the incoming mail server for the recipient. If there is a problem along the way, the mail might be sent back to re-trace its route to the sender, arriving as undeliverable.
Microsoft Exchange Server is the server side of a client-server, collaborative application product developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Servers line of server products and is used by enterprises using Microsoft infrastructure products. Exchange's major features consist of electronic mail, calendaring, contacts and tasks; support for mobile and web-based access to information; and support for data storage.
List of exchange
- Exchange 1.0 - Exchange Server 4.0
- Exchange Server 5.0 - Exchange 2000 Server
- Exchange Server 2003 - Exchange Server 2007
- Exchange Server 2010
For networks, a port means an endpoint to a logical connection. The port number identifies what type of port it is. Here are the default email ports for:
POP3 - port 110 - IMAP - port 143
SMTP - port 25 - HTTP - port 80
Secure SMTP (SSMTP) - port 465 - Secure IMAP (IMAP4-SSL) - port 585
IMAP4 over SSL (IMAPS) - port 993 - Secure POP3 (SSL-POP) - port 995