What Are the Differences Between SNMP, SMTP, IMNP & IMAP?

By Ryan Postlethwait

Information transferred over the Internet is managed by sets of standardized protocol.
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Computers and network systems connected to the Internet communicate through Internet Protocol Suite, or TCP/IP. The transfer of information between servers, agents and clients linked on a TCP/IP Internet framework must be managed by a set of standardized protocol such as Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), and Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP). Each of these protocols play a different role in the transfer and management of information and are defined by the Network Working Group via Request for Comment (RFC) documents.

Simple Network Management Protocol

The status of computer and network equipment is monitored by a maintenance protocol known as the SNMP. The SNMP manages network components such as gateways, servers and hosts. Each component has its own network agent to perform network management functions. The SNMP transfers this management information from agent to agent. The Network Working Group defined the SNMP in 1990 with the implementation of RFC 1157.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

Email is transferred between systems through a mail service known as Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The SMTP is based off of the File Transfer Protocol (FTP), which transfers files from one host to another over the Internet. The Network Working Group standardized SMTP in 1982 with the implementation of RFC 821.

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP)

While the SMTP transfers email between servers, the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) gives the client access to the files within an email server. The client is permitted to create, manage or manipulate file folders and email messages. IMAP4, the latest version of IMAP, was specified by the Network Working Group in 2003 with the implementation of RFC 3501.

Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP)

Network-related error messages are typically relayed to the operating system of a computer by the Internet Control Message Protocol. An error is sent, for example, when a datagram is unable to reach its intended destination or if data traffic can be directed to another gateway through a shorter route. The Network Working Group standardized ICMP in 1981 with the implementation of RFC 792.