How Does Email work?

Everyday around 269 billion emails are sent worldwide. The average office worker, sends and receives 120 of those emails, so its highly likely you have sent one before. Email was born in 1971 when a computer engineer used the ‘@’ symbol to designate which computer a message should go to. At its core, an email is a glorified text message which is sent to one user from another. Although things have moved in due to advancing technology, you can now include Images and other attachments into your email.

How do you know it’s going to get to the right place, what makes this happen?

Here is a basic guide on how email works:

  • The sender composes a message using an email client on their computer and clicks send.
  • Once the send button has been clicked and the message is sent, the email text and attachments are uploaded to the SMTP, which is the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, server as outgoing mail.
  • All outgoing messages wait in the outgoing mail queue while the SMTP server communicates with the DNS (Domain Name Server – like a phone book for domain names and server IP addresses) to find out where the recipient’s email server is located. If the SMTP server finds the recipient’s email server, it will transfer the message and If the recipient’s server can’t be found, the sender will get a “Mail Failure” notification in their inbox.
  • The next time the recipient of the email logs into their email, or clicks “Send & Receive”, their email client will download all new messages on their own server.
  • You’ve got mail!

Gregory Olczyk

Gregory Olczyk