What exactly is SMTP?

SMTP is an abbreviation for “Simple Mail Transfer Protocol”. SMTP is a type of accepted protocol which allows different computers to exchange information in a previously agreed upon and understandable way. Through the process of standardization over time we all hope to increase efficiency overall. This protocol improves our lives everyday but you may not have noticed until now.

In this instance the standard we are talking about is an accepted internet standard. In the past there were mostly messaging systems for internal use only. Over time computer systems became much more powerful and the internet grew out of these types of systems into ARPANET and eventually evolved into the modern internet. Standard procedures and protocols were eventually agreed upon that would make sending and receiving messages across networks efficient and simple.

SMTP and UUCP were both eventually made the standards we know today. SMTP is better for permanently connected networks. UUCP is still used in Usenet newsgroups.

The rules that define how messages are sent back and forth electronically is defined by SMTP. A message sent via SMTP first needs to know an IP address. The sending computer will reach out to a domain name system, commonly known as a DNS. It will retrieve the intended IP address. That IP now serves like the address on your house to tell the mailman where to deliver directly to.

After that your computer can connect.

During this process the two computers give a call and response. This is called SMTP return code. This is the way in which the computers can tell each other that “the command was executed successfully” or that a command “Failed to execute”.

Today companies like ASPnix provide Email Hosting to users around the globe. Take a look at what they have to offer if you get a chance. ASPnix Email Services

How is a server any different from an ordinary computer?

A normal desktop computer such as the one that you have at home or in your office runs a user friendly OS and applications focused on day to day desktop uses. A server on the other hand is an entirely different beast. Meant to manage network resources, a server is dedicated to only those types of tasks.

A server is specially engineered to process data 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. It is designed for longevity and reliability by comparison to our desktops and home computers. This specialization of course gives way to features that are not available (or even necessary) to the average user.

What Constitutes as Server Hardware?

One of the common decisions small businesses make is between shared hosting, virtual dedicated or a dedicated hosting service. A dedicated hosting service would mean a higher cost but would include a number of benefits to the customer. While a shared hosting solution is much more affordable it leaves some things to be desired. Overall, that is a topic to discuss in another article (like this one).

If you were to decide to build a dedicated server your concerns would be 4 fold:

  1. Shape and size – For smaller businesses I would recommend using an entry level server. A tower configuration is best
  2. Processing Power – Don’t skimp. Buy a server processor. It will boost your performance and therefore positively affect the speed of data passing through your system.
  3. Memory – You are going to want as much as you can afford to buy.
  4. Storage Capacity – Do not use IDE. SATA or SCSI are ideal.

Operating System

The choice between operating systems is not an easy one. Depending on your use, there are options suited to different tastes, tasks and duties. For file servers try to choose an OS that members of your team will be comfortable with.

Final Considerations

For most small businesses a desktop just won’t work for these tasks. Most small businesses would not want to trust their data on a consumer level machine. If your data is important you should focus on making sure its reliably accessible and safe. If you are seeking information about server colocation, virtual cloud servers, or even shared hosting space, ASPnix has various options available.