What is an SMTP Server?

What is an SMTP Server

Emails are likely already a part of your day-to-day activities. For this reason, the term SMTP will be one you will want to know. With an SMTP server, users can confidently say that their message will make it to its destination.

With this definition alone, you are probably not left without questions. For this reason, we set out to answer the most pressing questions about SMTP Servers.

 An Introduction to SMTP

SMTP is a communication protocol termed the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and is an application used by mail servers for sending, receiving, and relaying ongoing mail between email senders and receivers. Each email sent by a mail client or application appears in the format smtp.serveraddress.com, which users can find in their account or settings section of their mail client.

An SMTP server operates the same as a standard server, having the ability to process data to send to another server. What makes an SMTP server different is that it has the unique purpose of processing data related to sending, receiving, and relaying emails. You can imagine each server as an application waiting to send the following email. 

Why SMTP Servers Are The Backbone to Emails

These servers are critical since your message would never make it to the recipient without them. Upon clicking the “send” button from your Gmail (or other email clients), the backend will convert your message into a series of codes fed into an SMTP server. These codes are then processed and sent to the email address. Therefore, an email message would also be undeliverable without an outbound server. It also acts as protection between your inbox and spam emails.

Additionally, if a typo exists in the email or a sender has been blocked, an SMTP server will also inform the sender with an error alerting them that the message is undeliverable.

Since SMTP Servers are crucial to message deliverability, website owners and other businesses must often decide between using SMTP hosting or managing a dedicated server, which will come down to each business’s goals and objectives.

The Extended SMTP Server Explanation

However, the beauty is in the details. When you send an email, several things go on in the background. First, your email goes to an SMTP server through a port. The email client then communicates with the SMTP server, providing the details of the email, including the sender ID, address, and body of the email. Once a user sends the information, the SMTP server is brought into action, breaking the recipient’s email address into two parts, the name and domain name. 

If the client is known as @gmail.com, the process is simple for the SMTP server. A delivery agent program then ensures the email makes it to the correct inbox through the POP server for Gmail. That said, hosted SMTP servers will take a little longer to fulfil. The server must verify that the sender’s email address is active as prevention for spam emails. Once verified, the message travels to the SMTP server. It is then up to the server to deliver the email address to the correct recipient inbox.

When To Use SMTP Servers

Even with this knowledge of SMTP Servers, one question remains, when will these servers come into play. When it comes to email, there are several providers that you might come across, including Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo. While these providers are great for day-to-day transactions, there are limitations in volume. Consider that some email providers will cap how many emails a user can send at a given time. When senders hit that cap, their emails will return with error codes indicating temporary unavailability, a problem that SMTP servers address. SMTP servers can then be useful in both marketing emails and transactional emails.

One example of where an SMTP server is useful is when you are running a business and need to send multiple emails about promotional offers or user activities, like changing a password or sending a purchase confirmation. Since an influx of these emails might occur in a busy season, businesses are then on the hook for delivering this vital information to their customers. Failure to deliver these emails can result in poor customer satisfaction and retention rates.

How to Set Up an SMTP Server

If you fall into the above category, the following question comes down to setup. The process is straightforward for those who decide to set up their server. First, users will be required to open their email client and navigate to Tools or Account Settings. From there, they can select “Outgoing Server (SMTP).” After making this selection, users can select “Add,” which will open a new window with more in-depth details, including a description, connection security, authentication methods, etc.