Types of Email Servers

By Erin McManaway

Email Menu
i Email LCD display image by Alex Yeung from Fotolia.com

Email is one of the best known and most widely used services across the Internet. It allows users to send text messages, files, pictures, music, videos and other media to anyone else who has an email address--no matter where they're located in the world. Email is usually a bundled feature with many Internet service providers or web-hosting domains. Choose from many free email providers, all of which use different types of email servers.

Web-Based Email

This may be the type of email that most users are familiar with. Many free email providers host their servers as web-based email. This allows users to log into the email server through the use of an Internet browser to send and receive their mail. It is useful for people on the go since they can check their email anywhere they have access to the Internet.

POP3 Email Servers

Post Office Protocol 3 (POP3) is another common type of email server, often used by ISPs that provide users with email accounts along with Internet service. POP3 servers will store incoming email messages on a remote server until a user opens an email client software to check her mail. The messages will be retrieved from the server, transferred to the user's computer and deleted off the server to make space for more incoming messages.

IMAP Email Servers

Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is an alternate to the POP3 email server, often used by business email accounts. The benefit of IMAP is that it allows users to preview, delete and organize emails before they transfer them from the email server to their computers. The IMAP server will leave copies of the email on the server until the user decides it is time to delete them.

SMTP Email Servers

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) servers usually work alongside other mail servers such as POP3 or IMAP. This server handles the email that users send out from email clients.