Saturday, May 8, 2010

Difference between Webmail and SMTP 

Our college has a Webmail service and an imap server and was wondering the differences between pop3, webmail and smtp. On googling I found that SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)is the protocol responsible was sending mails from one domain to the other . eg if I send a mail from a@domain.com to b@domain2.com then smtp is responsible. POP and IMAP are the applications work on the application layer on the OSI layers and have a key difference.

POP(Post Office Protocol) retrieves mails from the server and deletes it off the server and stores the copy in the hard drive whereas IMAP(Internet Message Access Protocol) does not store the mail in the hard drive but displays the mail from the server. So if POP is used the mail be on the users hard drive and thus can be accessed anywhere, whereas IMAP requires a web connection.

Web based email on the other hand is a simple way to access your mails using a web browser. Many of the web based email service providers provide POP and IMAP support including gmail and hotmail.

One can use email clients such as thunderbird or windows mail to access gmail using either pop or imap. I tried on a very nifty software called JBMail which is a lightweight email client. To access your gmail account open JBMail go to the 'Send Settings' tab and enter your email address in the 'Your address' field , in protocol click on the SSL via STARTTLS option(gmail accepts only this option) and in 'Smtp host' field enter 'smtp.gmail.com' , then click on 'SMTPAUTH' (SMTP authentication) and enter your exact gmail account information ie username and password , now go to compose mail from the FILE drop down menu. You can use the POP protocol to access your complete profile but I would recommend using Mozilla Thinderbird. For gmail configuration settings you can go the link provided.

Some important links:

1.Wiki on SMTP

2.Wiki on IMAP

3.Wiki on Web based email services

4.Wiki on POP

5.JBMail Home Page

6.Mozilla Thunderbird Home Page

7.Configure Mozilla Thinderbird to access gmail account using IMAP

8.Differences between IMAP,SMTP,POP

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