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What is POP3?

POP3 stands for Post Office Protocol (version 3), comprised of mailboxes for email systems so that a user can retrieve email from a central location where the email is stored. POP3 accounts allow users to have mailboxes on a server with their domain name. This means that if you own the domain name “” you can receive and send email at Post Office Protocol Version 3 provides a simple, standardized way for users to access mailboxes and download messages to their computers.

Most e-mail applications also known as an e-mail clients use the POP protocol, although some can use the newer IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). In order to set up POP3 email accounts for your domain, your domain must be hosted on server which has nameservers.

Since POP3 allows a client computer to retrieve electronic mail from a POP3 server via a (temporary) TCP/IP or other connection, it does not provide for sending mail, which is assumed to be done via SMTP or some other method. POP is useful for computers, e.g. mobile or home computers, without a permanent network connection which therefore require a "post office" (the POP server) to hold their mail until they can retrieve it.

There are two versions of POP. The first, called POP2, became a standard in the mid-80's and requires SMTP to send messages. The newer version, POP3, can be used with or without SMTP.

Major Features of POP and IMAP protocols

Although the protocols are not directly compatible and differ in significant ways, there are some common characteristics. Both of them:

  • Both handle mail access only. Email sending handled by SMTP.
  • Both Support persistent message identifiers for disconnected use.
  • They have freely available implementations (including source) available.
  • They rely on mail delivery to a, usually shared, "always up" mail server.
  • They allow access to new mail from a variety of client platform types.
  • They have client implementations available for PCs, Macs, and Unix.
  • They have commercial implementations available.
  • they allow access to new mail from anywhere on the network.
  • Fully support the offline (download and delete) access model.
  • They both are open protocols, defined by Internet RFCs.
  • They both are native Internet protocols; no mail gateways required.

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