Just what is POP3 anyway? POP stands for Post Office Protocol. It’s a longstanding Internet standard offered by nearly all Internet Service Providers (ISPs). POP3 refers to the 3rd version of this standard, which is the current version.
POP email is based on a client-server model. The email server is provided by your ISP, email service provider, employer data center or Web hosting company. The client is installed on your PC. When your PC mail is active, the client checks periodically, say every 5 minutes, with the server to see if there is new mail. If so, the client downloads it to the PC. Most people have it set up to delete downloaded email messages from the server, but you can leave them up there if you wish. The only problem with this is that messages pile up and you can run out of your assigned storage quickly.
What’s a client? Microsoft Outlook, Mac Mail and Eudora are examples of POP email clients. What they have in common is that they are installed on a particular computer, store your messages locally on that computer, and communicate with a POP3 server over the Internet.
An advantage of POP3 is that once the mail is downloaded, you don’t have to be online to read your messages. You know that if you are using Webmail and lose your Internet connection, you’ve lost your link to your email account. With POP3, you can read your stack of messages, put them in particular files for storage, and search your computer to find an old email message.
That’s the good part. The bad part is that if you lose your computer, say a laptop, or your hard drive crashes, you can lose years of valuable email messages in an instant. Unless you’ve backed them up somewhere they are gone for good. If you trade up to a new computer, you have to transfer all those messages, too, or you won’t be able to get to them. Also, any messages that came into your desktop computer and were deleted from the server won’t be accessible on your laptop computer when you are out and about. The reverse is also true.
Then there’s the really bad part. That’s the spam and viruses that we’re constantly fending off. Many of us have far more spam messages come in than legitimate ones. Email clients have the ability to detect spam to some extent and sent it to a separate spam file. You may have a separate spam and virus program to protect your PC. Today, many service providers have a first line of defense spam and virus protection on their email servers. That helps, but a lot of junk still gets through.
Companies that want control of their corporate email run their own email servers, either in their own data centers or space rented from colocation data centers. One of the most popular server programs is Microsoft Exchange. Exchange expands pure vanilla POP email to support voice mail storage, calendar, contact organizing, faxes, and public folders for sharing information among employees. All of this is protected by secure transfers and anti-virus and anti-spam filtering in the server itself.
Microsoft Exchange is great for large corporate IT departments that have the staff and data center resources to run their own Exchange servers. Small and medium size companies may find this too much to deal with and revert to consumer grade email services or Web mail accounts just to have some way to send and receive messages. There is another option available for just these companies. It’s called Hosted Exchange.
Hosted Exchange gives you all the advantages of Microsoft Exchange without the headache of running your own server. The hosting is done by a hosting or cloud services company. They provide you with your own instance of Microsoft Exchange running on their servers. You connect via the Internet or dedicated telecom line.
With Hosted Exchange service, you not only lose the server disadvantage, but you gain the advantages of having your service in the cloud. Those include routine automatic backups so you won’t lose data. You can access your messages from your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet from wherever you happen to be. If you accidentally delete an important email, you can generally recover your messages or entire mailboxes even weeks later. Your private mail will stay private, too. All communication with the Hosted Exchange server is done using SSL encryption just like you’d use for online shopping or banking.
Is it time you made the move to a more modern and capable email system? If so, consider Hosted Exchange email service options in the cloud. It can handle as many users and as much data as you need and offers considerable cost savings over doing it yourself.