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What is a POP3?

POP3, which is an abbreviation for Post Office Protocol 3, is the third version of a widespread method of receiving email. Much like the physical version of a post office clerk, POP3 receives and holds email for an individual until they pick it up. And, much as the post office does not make copies of the mail it receives, in previous versions of POP3, when an individual downloaded email from the server into their email program, there were no more copies of the email on the server; POP automatically deleted them.

POP3 makes it easy for anyone to check their email from any computer in the world, provided they have configured their email program properly to work with the protocol.

Mail Server Functionality

POP3 has become increasingly sophisticated so that some administrators can configure the protocol to "store" email on the server for a certain period of time, which would allow an individual to download it as many times as they wished within that given time frame. However, this method is not practical for the vast majority of email recipients.

While mail servers can use alternate protocol retrieval programs, such as IMAP, POP3 is extremely common among most mail servers because of its simplicity and high rate of success. Although the newer version of POP offers more "features," at its basic level, POP3 is preferred because it does the job with a minimum of errors.

Working With Email Applications

Because POP3 is a basic method of storing and retrieving email, it can work with virtually any email program, as long as the email program is configured to host the protocol. Many popular email programs, including Eudora and Microsoft Outlook, are automatically designed to work with POP3. Each POP3 mail server has a different address, which is usually provided to an individual by their web hosting company. This address must be entered into the email program in order for the program to connect effectively with the protocol. Generally, most email applications use the 110 port to connect to POP3. Those individuals who are configuring their email program to receive POP3 email will also need to input their username and password in order to successfully receive email.

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