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Mail Transfer Agent (MTA)

Knowledge Base / Glossary: "A Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) is a computer program or software component that is responsible for transferring electronic mail messages from one computer to another. MTAs are essential for the operation of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), w..."

A Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) is a computer program or software component that is responsible for transferring electronic mail messages from one computer to another. MTAs are essential for the operation of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), which is a standard protocol for sending and receiving email over the Internet.

An MTA receives an email message from a client program, such as an email client or web-based email service, and forwards it to the appropriate mail server. The MTA uses the Domain Name System (DNS) to determine the correct mail server for the recipient's email address. Once the message has been delivered to the correct mail server, it is stored in the recipient's mailbox until they retrieve it using a client program.

MTAs are often used in conjunction with mail delivery agents (MDAs), which are responsible for delivering email messages to the recipient's mailbox. An MTA will transfer an email message to an MDA, which will then store it in the recipient's mailbox.

MTAs are an important component of the email infrastructure, as they ensure that email messages are delivered to the correct destination. They are also responsible for handling bounces and other error messages that may be generated during the delivery process.

In addition to their role in the delivery of email, MTAs can also be used to provide additional services, such as spam filtering and virus scanning. Some MTAs are also capable of integrating with other messaging protocols, such as X.400 and Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), to provide additional functionality.