It takes several days for a
letter to travel across the country and maybe a week
to more to travel overseas. To save time and money,
millions of people around the world are using
electronic mail or e-mail. It's fast, easy and much
cheaper than post.
What exactly is e-mail? Simply put, e-mail is a
message sent in digital format from one computer to
Using e-mail you can send your personal or business
related messages along with attachments such as
pictures, music over even computer programs.
You have a business and have offices in several
locations, or your family members are spread across
the world. How do you keep in touch without running up
huge telephone bills? E-mail is the answer. It's
hardly surprising that e-mail has become the most
popular service on the Internet.
A letter you post is first picked up by the postal van
and sent to the central sorting office. From here all
letters are sent to the cities specified in the
addresses. Letters received in each city is then
sorted according to individual areas in the city and
Similarly all the e-mails you send, first travel to
the Mail Server of your Internet Server Provider. From
here they are sorted and travel over the Internet to
the Mail Server of the service provider at the
destination. Here they are stored in an electronic
mailbox. When your friend logs on to the Internet, his
e-mail application such as Microsoft Outlook or Eudora
then downloads the e-mails sent by you from his
mailbox to his computer.
The whole process can take place in seconds, allowing
you to communicate quickly with people at any time of
To receive e-mail, it is necessary to have an account
on a mail server. This is like having a physical
address where you receive letters. The advantage you
have over postal mail is that you can retrieve your
messages from any computer at any location by simply
accessing your mailbox using an e-mail client.
Nowadays web based e-mail has become very popular.
Using web based e-mail you can access and send
messages from anywhere without using an e-mail client
such as Microsoft Outlook.
To send e-mail, you need an Internet connection and
access to a mail server that will forward your mail.
The standard protocol used for sending Internet e-mail
is called SMTP, which is an acronym for Simple Mail
Transfer Protocol. It works in conjunction with POP3
servers. POP is an acronym for Post Office Protocol.
When you send out an e-mail message, your computer
forwards it to an SMTP server. The server looks at the
e-mail address (like the address on an envelope), then
forwards on it to the recipient's mail server.
When the message is received at the destination mail
server, it is stored until the addressee retrieves it
by connecting to this mail server. You can send e-mail
anywhere in the world to anyone who has an active
e-mail address. Almost all Internet service providers
(ISPs) offer an e-mail address with every account.
Initially, when e-mail technology was introduced, only
short messages could be sent. Attachments such as
formatted documents, photographs etc could not be
sent. With the introduction of Multipurpose Internet
Mail Extension (MIME) and other encoding techniques,
it has become possible to send almost any kind of