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What is SMTP EMail?

Computer jargon is a nightmare for those of us who do not spend our working days dealing with IT issues. That is why I want to help explain some of the more common jargon and abbreviations. Today I want to deal with SMTP email.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

It doesn't really help when you know what the abbreviation stands for. So I can put it much simpler. SMTP is the method by which you send email. Yes, that is all it is.

You may have heard of POP3 and IMAP, well these deal with how email is received. For full email facilities you require an SMTP service in order to send your emails.

A web server is required to run these services. In theory you can run the from your own PC but this is rarely practical.

Your Internet Service provider usually provides these services for you which they have running on their own web server. In addition, your web designer who hosts your website will often provide these services for your business email address.

The server that hosts the SMTP server will usually authenticate that the sender has permission to use that server but such authentication rarely goes further than that.


I once played an April Fools joke on a colleague. He was away from work for a day and told me he was pleased as I would be unable to play my annual practical joke on him. How wrong he was. I sent an email to all his colleagues to announce his impending wedding and asked for congratulatory texts to be sent. I spoofed his email address and his colleagues all thought that it was he who sent the email.

What they did not realise is that to send an email as if you were someone else is very easy. Most but not all SMTP servers will allow this. If someone else sends email that appears to come from you does not necessarily mean that they have hacked your email account. They have more than likely spoofed your address via an SMTP server and in itself, is harmless.

So if you receive an unsolicited email, do not automatically assume that the sender's email address is genuine. It could be a con-artist trying to get their hands on your dosh or they could simply be a practical joker, like me!

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