For example, connecting to BT will give you an e-mail address like jsmith@btInternet.com. This e-mail address is unique: no other person in the world can have this exact address.
E-mails can be accessed in different ways depending on what protocol is being used.
There are three protocols - two for accessing e-mails and one for sending e-mails.
IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)
IMAP is a standard protocol for accessing e-mail from your local server. It is a client/server protocol in which e-mail is received and held for you by your Internet server. Only if you request to read a specific e-mail message will it be downloaded from the server. You can also create and manipulate folders or mailboxes on the server, delete messages etc. Novell Groupware is an example of a server-based e-mail system.
POP (Post Office Protocol 3)
POP provides a simple, standardised way for users to access mailboxes and download messages to their computers. All your e-mail messages are downloaded from the mail server to your local computer. A copy can, if you wish, be left on the server but you will then have two places to housekeep.
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)
SMTP is used by the Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) to deliver your e-mail to the recipient's mail server. The SMTP protocol can only be used to send e-mails, not to receive them
To access your e-mails you will need a client e-mail application installed on your machine. One that is installed with Windows is Outlook Express. No matter which software you use you will need to know the addresses of the IMAP or POP server and the SMTP server so you can receive and send e-mails. You will also need to enter your e-mail address and the password supplied by your ISP.