Every day billions of e-mails are sent all over the world, and it's incredible to think how quick and efficient this process is. From the old days where mail took weeks to get from one place to another, now we can send messages all the way across the world in mere seconds. While the process of sending and receiving emails seems pretty straightforward, it involves complex procedures that make it possible for us to communicate without a hitch. If you want to know how does email work, it's time to find out with this quick summary of the amazing technology.
How Email Work – a Tour Behind the Scenes
The email sending process starts with a Mail Server, which is an application that receives emails from people within the same domain and then forwards it as outgoing mail. Computers with this type of application are also referred to as 'Mail Servers', and there is usually a server that receives mails and another one that forwards them.
This is the frame where emails are transferred, and this is where email users come into play. The first step is writing an email and attaching recipients that are meant to receive the mail. After you, the user, click the 'Send' button, your mail is transferred to an MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) through an SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) protocol that is in charge of sending emails.
The next step in the mail sending process is translating domain names into IP addresses and vice versa – a step performed via a DNS (Domain Name System). The DNS system searches for the IP address that belongs to the recipient and identifies it as the one the mail should be sent to.
Now we move on to the mail delivery – after the recipient is identified, the message is transferred to him through the SMTP protocol and the recipient mail server (MTA). At this point, the message you sent gets to the recipient’s local computer. This is where things get a bit more technical… if you ask how email works, you will get an answer that splits into two; when emails get to their recipient, two protocols can be used:
1. IMAP – a protocol where email messages are stored in the mail server and can be manipulated.
2. POP3 – the copy of the mail in the server is deleted once the mail is downloaded by the recipient.
Believe it or not, this is the simple explanation of how email works. There are plenty of technical details that only coders can understand, but these are the basics of email delivery. Along with regular emails, you may also receive spam or fraudulent mail that you shouldn't open. If you get a fishy mail, use GoLookUp's reverse email lookup to find out who is sent you the email and you can rest assured knowing which correspondence may harm you and which one is safe to open and read.