The Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is a communication protocol for electronic mail transmission. As an Internet standard, SMTP was first defined in 1982, and updated in 2008 by to Extended SMTP additions, which is the protocol variety in widespread use today. Mail servers and other message transfer agents use SMTP to send and receive mail messages. Proprietary systems such as Microsoft Exchange and IBM Notes and webmail systems such as Outlook.com, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail may use non-standard protocols internally, but all use SMTP when sending to or receiving email from outside their own systems. SMTP servers commonly use the Transmission Control Protocol on port number 25.
User-level email clients typically use SMTP only for sending messages to a mail server for relaying, and typically submit outgoing email to the mail server on port 587. For retrieving messages, IMAP and POP3 are standard, but proprietary servers also often implement proprietary protocols.
SMTP eliminates the complexity and expense of building an in-house email solution or licensing, installing, and operating a third-party email service.
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