Email Explained

Email is a system for sending or receiving messages using mail servers. When using email two servers are involved, one for sending messages (outgoing) and one for receiving messages (incoming). Here we will explain what choices you have and how to set up your mail software correctly. Of course, all mail software differs slightly but the main principles are same. If you are having difficulty setting up your software please refer to the manufacturer of the software you are using as we cannot provide for support for all the different types of mail software out there.

Basic Principles

When you send an email message your software connects to a mail server, usually called an SMTP server, and send the message to the server. This usually requires your software to use a username and password in order to gain access to the server and stop other people sending message through your account. The server then checks which server on the internet hosts the mail for the domain that you are sending the message to (that is the bit after the '@' sign in the email address, i.e. simasy.com in the address info@simasy.com. Once it has done that it sends the message to that server. If the receiving server has an account for the address the message is being sent to it will accept the message and store it on the server ready for the recipient to pick it up (a bit like sending a letter to a post box number). If the receiving server doesn't have an account for the address it will usually reject or 'bounce' the message and send it back to the originating server which will then store it in the sender's mailbox to inform them that the message could not be delivered.

Message that are sent to you are stored on the mail server ready for you to collect. This is usually done by your mail software periodically, like every 15 minutes, and can be set in the mail software settings. There are two methods of receiving email:

  1. POP3
    This method retrieves the messages from the server and downloads them to you computer, usually deleting the messages off the server once they have been downloaded, although this can be changed in your mail settings so you can have them left there for a period of time and deleted later automatically. The advantage of POP3 is the amount of space being used on the server is kept to a minimum because it isn't storing all the message you receive. The disadvantage is if you use more than one device for emails, such as a computer and a smartphone, the two aren't in sync. If you collect emails on your phone and they are deleted from the server, when you are at your computer and it checks for emails those messages you received previously on your phone are no longer there so your messages may be in one of many places making it difficult when you are trying to find a message you received previously.
  2. IMAP
    This method retrieves the messages from the server and downloads them to you computer leaving copies of the messages on the server. The advantage of IMAP is if you use more than one device they are kept in sync because each of them is mirroring what is on the server. Also, when you send messages they are also stored on the server so if, for instance, you were to send a message from your computer and the later when you are not at your computer you want to check a message that you sent earlier, you can see it on your phone or tablet. The disadvantage is it takes up much more space because all of your received messages, sent messages, folders and even deleted messages are stored on the server so over time the space you have will fill up so it is more important to perform regular housekeeping.

Encryption (SSL)

Connections to the servers can be secure (encrypted, SSL) or unsecure (unencrypted, non-SSL). An encrypted connection means your messages are converted into mass of random characters before being sent and at the receiving end they are converted back to the original message meaning if your message is intercepted by somebody they cannot read it. To use SSL your mail server must support it and Encryption the SSL option has to be switched on in your mail software for each of the servers. Most commonly, mail software will automatically switch SSL on when you initially set up your mail account. If this is the case, and the server your software is connecting to, does not have an SSL Certificate applied to it your software will error with something like 'The server certificate was not recognised'. If this is the case you must edit your mailbox account in your software and turn SSL off.

The most common reasons for mail errors are:

  • Incorrect Username or Password
    Check that you are using your full email address as your Username and the correct Password.
  • Incorrect Server Settings
    Check that you are using the correct server addresses. The email system uses two server addresses, one for receiving message (incoming) and another for sending messages (outgoing). With Simasy accounts you have a choice of using your own domain as the server address or ours. If you choose to use your own domain the address for both servers will be mail.yourdomainname so, for example, if our domain name is simasy.com so our mail server addresses will be mail.simasy.com. Using your own domain will mean the connection is unencrypted and you must ensure that your mail software has SSL turned off otherwise your mail software will error when trying to connection to the server. Alternatively, if you wish to use an encrypted connection you can use cloud2.simasy.com for both incoming and outgoing connections and turn SSL on in your software.