mailserver : Java Glossary


The piece of software your email client (e.g. Thunderbird, Eudora, Pine, Outlook) interacts with to send and receive your mail. It runs 24 hours a day, ready to receive mail addressed to you. It stores it until start up your Internet connection and fetch your mail. When you send mail, it keeping trying to send the mail for several days until it finally delivers it. If it fails, it sends you a bounce message to warn you of the failure.

Normally your ISP (Internet Service Provider) chooses and maintains the email server software and runs it on his computer. It is nothing you have to think about other than which protocols its uses, normally SMTP to send mail and POP3 to receive. Sometimes you see IMAP for receiving or POP3 used for sending as well. Usually you have some sort of authentication — usually a userid and password to keep other out of your private email or from relaying spam.

You can run your own mailserver on your own machine. This lets you pick up and send mail much faster. Further, you are in charge. You don’t have to live with your ISP ’s quotas or other rules. However, you need some technical expertise to set it up and keep it running 24 hours a day to receive mail. You also are then free to incorporate anti-spam software into your mailserver. James from Apache is a free, pure-Java mailserver.

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