Today we will analyze the comparison between SMTP and IMAP. These are two email protocols to transfer electronic messages. Email plays a crucial role in this virtual world. Checking Email is the first activity of the day for most of the consumers. Here, Email protocol helps a sender to improve their deliverability.
Basically, email protocol is the connection between the sender, email server and receiver. SMTP is an acronym that stands for simple mail transfer protocol. On the other hand, IMAP stands for internet access message protocol. In this article, we will describe both of them elaborately.
What is SMTP?
Before knowing the comparison between SMTP and IMAP, you should know something about them. Let’s first learn about SMTP protocol. SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. It is the text-based, industry-standard protocol for Email. With SMTP, you can send, reply or forward messages from a mail client.
A classic example of an example of a mail client is Microsoft Outlook. A sender uses an SMTP server to complete the process of transmitting an email message. So, in a sentence, SMTP deals with the sending of emails. So, when you want to send emails within your application, SMTP is your choice.
In an SMTP server, clients send texts like HELLO, MAIL, RCPT, etc. Then, SMTP servers reply to these in the form of numeric completion codes. SMTP mechanisms came into the market in the year 1970. In the present day, it supports servers including IceWarp, Sendmail, Exim, Postfix, and MagicMail. Now we will explain the key features of SMTP.
Features of SMTP
Let’s discuss the features of the IMAP protocol. They are as follows:
- SMTP is a set of communication guidelines that allow the software to transmit electronic mail over the internet.
- It provides a mail exchange between users on the same or different computers. Also, it supports the sending of a single message to one or more recipients.
- Message can include text, voice, video, or graphics.
- Also, you can send messages on networks outside the internet.
- SMTP client has two components. These are user agent (UA) and mail transfer agent (MTA). The user agent creates the envelope for the message and prepares it for sending. After preparation, the mail transfer agent transfers the mail across the internet. You can use one or more than one MTAs.
- SMTP allows a more complex system with the help of the relaying system.
- You can use the relying system without the TCP/IP protocol to send the emails. This is possible due to the mail gateway. Mail gateway is a relay MTA to receive an email.
What is IMAP?
Now we will understand IMAP. It stands for Internet Access Message Protocol. IMAP is an email protocol that deals with managing and receiving server. You can use this protocol for receiving messages. However, you can’t use this to send emails. The transfer of emails happens between a server and a client only.
The responses of the IMAP server are of three types – Status responses, Server Data, and Command Continuation Request. At first, IMAP was a remote access mailbox protocol. Mark Crispin is the designer of the original version of IMAP. After the initial release, IMAP has gone so many updates. The latest version of it is named as IMAP4.
Features of IMAP
Now we will discuss the features of the IMAP protocol. These areas are:
- Users can access and retrieve mail from a remote server. It allows the user to retrieve mail when it is in a remote server.
- It allows the user to set a message flag. Message flag is important to keep track of seen messages.
- IMAP allows the user to search for the contents of emails.
- Users can organize and manage mails on the server according to their requirements. They can create, delete or rename the mailbox. Also, you can create a hierarchy to organize the folders.
- Users can manage multiple mailboxes. Also, they can send messages from one mailbox to another. Even they can arrange the mails into different categories.
- IMAP allows you to download some portion of the mail. This is quite useful when you are dealing with a large multimedia file.
- You can check the email header in IMAP. It is an easy way to detect your emails separately.
Differences Between SMTP and IMAP
We have explained all details of SMTP and IMAP. Now we will start our main topic. SMTP is different than IMAP, mainly in function. Also, there are some technical sections of contrast between SMTP and IMAP. So, let’s look at them.
Function: The first and most important difference between SMTP and IMAP is their function. SMTP establishes a way for electronic messages to transfer from sender to receiver. Also, SMTP sends these messages from one server to another. On the other hand. IMAP performs just the opposite. It is a way to manage and retrieve electronic messages from an email server.
Ports: SMTP works on port 25, port 465, port 587, and port 2525. Port 25 is the standard port for mail transfer. On the other hand, port 2525 is not an official port. However, it supports almost every email service. On the other hand, IMAP works on port 143 and port 993. Port 143 is the default port for mail transfer without encryption. Port 993 is the secure port which is also known as IMAPS.
Message Transfer: SMTP can transfer the emails from a client to a server, also between two servers. In contrast, IMAP can transfer emails only from a server to a client.
Organization: IMAP allows users to arrange messages hierarchically. It also offers the option to place them in different folders. But in the case of SMTP, you will not get any such features.
We have compared SMTP and IMAP with all their features. Now you should understand something. You need both the SMTP and IMAP for sending and receiving messages. These play the role of connector between the sender, email server and receiver. Right now, SMTP one of the most used server. However, when you aim for multiple logins, IMAP is your choice.