POP3 Explained

POP3 is by far the most popular way to handle your email. Our last article defined the benefits and downsides of using IMAP, and we will now go into the same for POP3. You are most likely already familiar with using POP3 to get your email now, but when you are running your own dedicated server, it helps to know more about how this protocol works.

POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol. It is accessed by using port 110 on your server. Most email clients enter in this information automatically when you set up a POP3 account, since it is standard.

POP3 email is very useful if you are worried about your server’s disk space. Since the email only stays on the server until it is downloaded to your computer, you do not have to be as concerned about this issue.

Each POP3 account will need a username and password in order to access the POP3 server on your site. Some servers require the entire email address for a log-in name, while others just ask for the name before the @ sign. You will need to check with your web hosting company to see which method of retrieval they use.

POP3 works by maintaining text files for each email account on your server. Each time a new message comes in for that account, the text of the new message is added onto the existing file. When you download your email, the file is erased and the process starts all over again.

One of the biggest advantages of using POP3 is simply that it is very easy to use. Most people are extremely familiar with using POP3 email and do not have a problem configuring their email clients.

However, the most popular reason people use POP3 is the ability to read and respond to emails offline. Once you have downloaded your email to your local machine, you will be able to move it to different folders, reply or read your email without any interference.

There are some downsides, such as not being able to retrieve lost or deleted email. If you make a mistake and permanently delete a POP3 message, you will not be able to log-in to your server to get another copy.

However, more email clients are now allowing you to specify if you want to leave certain messages on the server. This creates a hybrid of POP3 and IMAP and allows you to take advantage of the best features of both.

If you are worried about losing a particular email, you can set-up your mail client to avoid deleting that particular message before you download your email for that day. You will need to do this before downloading your email, or your efforts will be in vain.

Related Posts:
IMAP Explained
WHI’s Podcast for 07/17/2006
What You Need to Know to Run a Dedicated Server - Part I
Hosting Industry Briefing for 05/26/2006
Hosting Industry Daily Briefing for 03/15/2006

Posted on 12/15/05 8:17 PM

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