I was reading an article about emailing, and pretty soon my head was just swimming with those abbreviations computer geniuses are so fond of using. IP, TCP, SMTP, POP, POP3, IMAP - just what are these?
In order to start understanding them, we have to know what the abbreviations stand for and their definition:
IP - Internet Protocol - The method by which information is sent between any two computers on the internet.
TCP - Transmission Control Protocol - A protocol developed for the internet to get data from one network device to another.
SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol - An internet standard for electronic mail (e-mail) transmission across Internet Protocol.
POP - Post Office Protocol - Standard protocol used by local email clients to retrieve emails.
POP3 - Post Office Protocol 3 - The most recent version of a standard protocol to retrieve email.
IMAP - Internet Message Access Protocol - One of two most prevalent internet standard protocols for retrieving emails which provides the user more capabilities for retaining email on the server and for organizing it in folders on the server.
I started to see a theme. Protocol - The established code of procedure or behavior in any group, organization or situation. This I could understand. Without these protocols our emails would be just a bunch of bits and bytes flying across the internet to who knows where.
Here is how it all works together: When an email program on your computer, like Outlook Express, is going to send your outgoing emails across the internet, it does so using the SMTP protocols. When it comes time for the same email program to retrieve incoming emails from the internet, it does so using the POP, POP3, or IMAP Protocols.
One final note: in a network environment, a server may be set up to collect all the outgoing and incoming emails before distributing them to the internet or individual computers. This server would use the SMTP and POP, POP3, or IMAP protocols to handle the distribution and would generally be called the SMTP Server.