An e-mail (electronic mail) is a message sent from one user to one or more recipients via a network. E-mails are extremely useful for small businesses as it is an efficient and cheap way of communicating, as well as being able to use it for marketing and contacting. To send and receive e-mail messages, you can use an e-mail program/e-mail client, such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. When using an e-mail client, you must have a server that stores and delivers your messages.

A server is part of a computer program that accepts and responds to requests made by another program; known as a client. An e-mail client needs to connect to a server to download new e-mail, whereas email stored online updates automatically when you visit the site.

An alternative way of sending and receiving e-mail is using an online e-mail service or webmail. Examples of these include Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Outlook Office.

POP3 (The Post Office Protocol 3)

POP3 is a standard protocol used by local e-mail clients to retrieve e-mail from a remote server; a server on another computer. Virtually all modern e-mail clients and servers support POP3, and it along with IMAP are the two most prevalent Internet standard protocols for e-mail retrieval, beside many other service providers such as Gmail, and Yahoo!

To configure a POP3 account, you only need:

  • The name of your ISP’s (Internet service providers)* mail server that holds your email, for example “”.
  • The name of the account that you were assigned by your ISP.
  • The password to your account.

*An ISP is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating on the Internet.

History of POP

The original POP was developed in 1984 to offer people a simple means of accessing their email on a remote server. This first protocol required only the use of a user name and password and it downloaded all the email at once. A greater range of commands and replies were provided with the release of POP2 in 1985. Additionally, it allowed the user to choose to read only one message instead of having to download all their e-mails at their same time. In 1988, the arrival of POP3 made accommodations for the users of personal computers able to retrieve their email even more simply, efficiently, and easily.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)

IMAP is a protocol for accessing e-mail, allowing users to store their email on remote servers. This two-way protocol also allows the user to synchronize their email among multiple devices, which is extremely important today, when most people have more than one device where they access their e-mails from.

IMAP e-mail clients using IMAP generally leave messages on the server until the user explicitly deletes them, and specifically allows multiple clients to simultaneously connect to the same mailbox.

Both POP3 and IMAP allow people access to their email from a remote server; however, that is where most similarities end. POP simply downloads email to your computer, and usually deletes the email from the remote server which is where problems arise. If you have more than one device where you access your mail you have to delete or file the same email on every device. The advantage of IMAP would be the coinciding of e-mails connected on each device used.

History of IMAP

In 1986, Mark Crispin developed the first IMAP at Stanford University, as an alternative to POP. IMAP had the advantage of being a two-way protocol, providing greater functionality for the user. Shortly afterwards a revision to IMAP was released, allowing people to tag commands and responses.

The next revision, released in the early 1990s, provided for the use of Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME), meaning people could receive and send different kinds of data files, such as audios, videos and pictures. The 1996 release of IMAP4rev1 allowed for both encrypted and plain text passwords for logins, as well as the encryption of emails.

Office 365

Office 365 is a group of software and service subscriptions by Microsoft, also providing productivity software and related services to its subscribers including e-mail.

What does Office 365 offer?

For consumers, the service allows the use of Microsoft Office apps on Windows (Microsoft) and OS X (Apple),as well as providing storage space on Microsoft’s cloud storage service (OneDrive), and it also grants 60 Skype minutes per month. For businesses, Office 365 offers plans including e-mail and social networking services.

History of Office 365

Office 365 was launched in 2011, as a successor to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (MSBPOS), originally aimed at corporate users. With the release of Microsoft Office 2013, Office 365 was expanded to include new plans aimed at different types of businesses. With emphasis on the rolling release model, with new plans were also aimed at general consumers, meaning they could use the Office desktop software on a subscription basis.

Some features in Outlook require you to use a Microsoft Exchange account. Exchange is a collaborative e-mail-based communications server for businesses. Home users typically don’t have an Exchange account; instead they use a POP3 e-mail account as many features that come with exchange are only needed for businesses, not home users.