Friday, September 02, 2005

eMail Pt 1

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Just about everyone who surfs the Web has an eMail account any more. Most of the Internet Service Providers on the Net have a set of mailboxes they provide their customers, but the software they provide for folk to get to their eMail account sometimes doesn’t provide the tools needed to effectively use their eMail Inboxes. There are several “eMail Clients” available that we be presenting. Before we get to that, there is some information you need to know to be able to select the best fit for your use.

But first we need to define what and where a client and server are. An eMail client is the software package you install on your desktop or lap top and is used to display messages you receive from family and friends as well as advertisers and such. You know! SPAM! The server sits on the Internet and collects your eMail. Sort of like a Post Office. It controls your Inbox and, if you are lucky enough to have a modern ISP, some form of SPAM filtering. The server uses eMail Protocols to handle messages for you in one fashion or another.

Ok, then. It’s time for the penny tour.

Of all the mail protocols, (and there are several) there are essentially two that are used most often. IMAP and POP.

IMAP is the Internet Message Access Protocol, or as it was once known, the Interactive Mail Access Protocol. It represents a communications mechanism for mail clients to interact with mail servers, and manipulate mailboxes thereon. IMAP is centered on the notion that the server is your primary mail repository. Messages are always retained on the server. The client may issue commands to download them or delete them, access and set message state information, but the server always maintains the mailboxes. The protocol also provides for the entire structure of a message to be transferred, which can provide a client mail program with an outline of a complex MIME (We’ll cover this later) message, but without requiring the client to read the entire message and parse it locally to determine that structure, which is how POP works.

Perhaps the most popular mail access protocol currently is the Post Office Protocol (POP), which also addresses remote mail access needs. IMAP offers a superset of POP features, which allow much more complex interactions and provides for much more efficient access than the POP model.

So, which is better? IMAP is of course, but it is more costly to the ISP because of the resources required of the server. Therefore, POP (or POP3)is the more popular because of reduced resources required.

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