Electronic Mail, Email using SMTP

Electronic Mail or email has become so ubiquitous it hardly seems worthy of a mention in the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) course. But, every webmaster must understand the basic concepts of simple mail transfer.

Sending E-Mail

E-Mail is sent using the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). To configure your e-mail client you need to provide the outgoing mail (SMTP) server address. You may find that your service provider puts limitations on the use of the SMTP server. You may only be able to use it to send email if you are using the service provider’s dial-up connection or their broadband connection. You may be further restricted to send only email that comes from a recognised domain name, such as the service provider’s own domain name. These measures are intended to prevent the possible generation of SPAM messages.

Receiving E-Mail

E-Mail is, generally, received from, or collected from a Post Office Protocol (POP) server. To configure your e-mail client you need to supply the address of the POP server, a username and a password. The username and password is required to prevent unauthorised persons from collecting your e-mail.

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Spam is not an acronym, but perhaps it should be. How about Spurious, Puerile, Aggravating Messaging? No? Well it sounds good to me! It is actually used to refer to Unsolicited Commercial Email, or Unsolicited Bulk Email. Either way, if you have not come across it yet, think yourself very lucky. It is the bane of most E-Mail users lives. These are emails sent out, advertising useless products and services that you are not in the least interested in. They are, at best, irritating, at worst a problem that prevents the normal use of your e-mail system. Fortunately there are products and services to try and help alleviate the problem. But as with most filtering systems they are not perfect. They will still allow some Spam through and may block legitimate messages.

Corporate E-Mail

The earlier section on sending and receiving e-mails relate to Internet E-Mail. Corporate E-Mail will have a corporate E-Mail server like Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes. In this case the e-mail client is simply pointed to the server where the e-mail messages are stored. Unlike Internet E-mail, messages are not downloaded from the server, they are stored and filed on the server and simply displayed by the client.


The term “netiquette” has been coined to promote common sense, politeness, and general rules for Internet Etiquette. The Internet provides new and unique ways to communicate, especially e-mail. The following is a list of general guidelines for all Internet communications:

  • Use business language in all work related messages.
  • Proofread and check your spelling before sending your message.
  • Do not type messages in all UPPERCASE LETTERS. This indicates anger. The e-mail equivalent of shouting.
  • Choose an appropriate subject line for the message.
  • Where possible, respond immediately to e-mail or newsgroup messages.
  • Think clearly about what you write.
  • Remember that messages, once sent, have permanence and will be date and time stamped. Some email systems can, allegedly, recall an email sent in error, but in my experience this seldom works.

E-Mail Privacy

Privacy of e-mail is perhaps more a question when it pertains to the workplace. In a traditional workplace the employer has legal ownership of everything the employee creates in the workplace. This also applies to the Internet workplace. So, while it may not be routine for your company to monitor the e-mails you are sending and receiving on company equipment. It is possible, and the company would be completely within it’s rights.

E-Mail Attachments

Most e-mail clients allow you to attach files to a message so that they may be sent with the message. Most e-mail clients show these attachments as links or icons within the message. Some display them in a separate box in the client. Older e-mail clients may not be so user friendly, and file the attachments in a specific directory rather than showing them in the message. With the older clients it may not be at all obvious that you have received an attachment.

Some corporate email servers block attachments or limit their size, which can be a problem. File compression utilities like WinZip may overcome the size issue but can’t circumvent the blocking.

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