The SMTP Protocol


Electronic Mail has existed in one form or another as far back whilst the 1960's. People might leave messages for one another using a quantity of distinct practices on mainframe computers nevertheless it wasn't until July 1982 once the Info Sciences Institute released The Easy Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP; RFC 821) that the standard way for delivering and getting email was suggested.

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the early Mail Transfer Agent Sendmail in BSD 4.1c quickly became popular on the ARPANET, replacing older more difficult methods used to shift email in one mainframe to another, and first supported in late 1982 sMTP.
The protocol has been edited and expanded relatively regularly since that time but the basic method for sending email has largely remained unchanged.

The protocol is just a text based protocol, initially not supporting the delivery of binary data. Nonetheless being text-based created the protocol easy to implement and retain. MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) became common within the late 80's for encoding and sending binary data via SMTP. Today SMTP is the prominent method for getting and delivering email on the internet and detained knowledge of this protocol is essential for almost any network manager.

As SMTP is text based, understanding the method is notably easier than many others and a program with the capacity of sending ASCII data over TCP/IP port 25, for example Telnet, is all that's needed to talk directly with an SMTP server.

Mail is sent in a transaction, that is in the event the mailing of the communication does not complete in full and without producing an error the concept is lowered. RFC 821 Describes a deal as having three stages: specifying a sender, supply one or more beneficiary(s) after which send the communication itself. However it is simpler to think of an SMTP deal as 5 periods:

Send Reply target
Send Recipients
Send Message Data
End Transaction


Upon connecting to an SMTP server on port 25 the sender of the information must wait for the receiver to accept the connection and identify itself within the following structure:

220 [ domain ] [Service Info]
Example: 220 Company prepared

The sender must then identify itself to the receiver.

HELO [domain]
Example: HELO

The email hosts may expect each one to identify itself using a domain name which could be utilized to verify the identification of the server by performing an MX record lookup, nevertheless the getting server must not refuse the connection at this stage even though the identity of the sender can not be confirmed and so should reply with:

250 [Message]
Case: 250 Hello joe at

Reply code 250 will be the generic 'okay' reply from an SMTP host to say the past action completed.

Send Reply Address:

Once the two machines have conducted their handshake the SMTP exchange has started and we are able to begin sending commands to the server. If you wish to see the instructions supported by the server send the control HELP as well as the SMTP server should answer using a concept explaining which instructions are recognized.

For all of us to send a person on this server an email although we ought to first collection a reply address. The response address must be furnished first so that if there are any problems through the SMTP deal the might be documented for this address. To do this we utilize the order' EMAIL FROM: ':

Example: EMAIL FROM:

Note the Less than and higher than people. These are needed by RFC 821 to contain the current email address itself. When the address is acknowledged SMTP will return a 250 fine reply.

Ship Recipients

After placing a reply handle SMTP will allow us to identify the users of the meaning. To get this done we utilize the 'RCPT TO:' order:

Example: RCPT TO:

To create for every recipient.Should the recipient may accept the message right now and recognize mail for this individual multiple readers merely continue doing this command it will reply having a 250 OK reply. However if email isn't accepted for this person a 550 failure response will be sent or perhaps the correct error code. Must we receive a 250 fine reply we are able to continue on to sending the meaning info.

Send Message Information

Giving data via SMTP is very simple when sending attachments, nevertheless message formats could be very intricate, particularly so. To begin sending data we ought to issue the command 'KNOWLEDGE' to that the server must reply with 354 Intermediate reply. i.e.:

354 Enter information, stopping with "." on the range by itself

The simplest communication we can ship is really a plain text message which does not need us to-use the multipart MIME message structure. All communications, plain text or else, are ended by sending a-line comprising merely a time character. Furthermore before a message is directed you may send some header information-such as Time, Topic, Cc To and From.


354 Enter communication, finishing with "." on a range alone
Subject: This Is Actually The subject line of the program text message
And this will be the message body of the plaintext message.

If acknowledged the SMTP server may return an error code or a 250 fine reply when the transaction was incomplete or has failed. Notice the period persona at the end of the line of the meaning body, it's only if there is an interval personality located on the line alone that the server will stop hearing for knowledge. Should the sender server be giving an email that could trigger the information treatment to shut prematurely it as the information contains a simple period character over a line it will add the range and an additional period identity.

Stopping the deal

Until this point exactly what hasbeen sent to the receiving SMTP host is recognized as to be disposable. If the command 'QUIT' isn't mailed before the connection ends the spot host only will erase any communication information that has been saved. Formerly used being a graceful way to shut a link it's widely used today to represent a finished transaction with several mail servers before queuing the email for the Information Transfer Agent to option waiting for the command. After you have sent the QUIT order the destination server must deliver a 221 Reply to ensure the deal has finished and also the connection is final.