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Posted Apr 30, 2004

SQL MAIL and SQL Agent Mail using POP3 and SMTP

By Gregory A. Larsen

How many times have you had problems sending SQL MAIL or SQL Agent Mail from SQL Server because the Exchange server was taken down or not working? Have you ever tried to connect up SQL Mail and/or SQL Agent mail to Exchange through a firewall or across domains, only to find out that you cannot use your Exchange in these situations? Maybe you don't have Exchange but you would still like to setup SQL Server to send email. If you have experienced these problems then you might want to consider using POP3 and SMTP services for supporting your SQL Mail and SQL Agent mail requirements. This article will discuss how to setup SQL Server to use POP3 and SMTP services to support SQL Mail and SQL Agent mail.

Advantages to using POP3 and SMTP for SQL MAIL and SQL Agent Mail

There are a number of advantages to using POP3 and SMTP services to support SQL Mail and SQL Agent mail. The biggest advantage is sending mail using SMTP allows SQL Mail and SQL Agent mail to work with most firewall rules since SMTP protocols normally are not blocked. Using POP3 and SMTP for SQL Mail and SQL Agent mail also provides all the same functionality of using Exchange. Therefore this means no SQL Server mail functionality will be lost using POP3 and SMTP as a mail solution for SQL Server. This may not seem like much of an advantage, but I have seen a number of SMTP solutions that only provide a subset of SQL Server mail functionality, plus none of these other SMTP solutions provide SQL Agent step and job notification mail services.

Guidelines for setting POP3 and STMP services

Prior to setting up SQL Server to use POP3 and SMTP to read and send email your SQL Server machine will need to be able to connect to a POP3 and SMTP service somewhere. I will not be discussing how to setup POP3 and/or SMTP in this article, but will offer some suggestion on where you might consider placing these services. Basically the POP3 and SMTP services can reside on any machine, even the SQL Server machine itself. In order to assure that SQL Mail and SQL Agent mail will work using the POP3 and SMTP services, these services will need to be available whenever SQL Server needs to read or send mail. Although these services do not have to be physically installed on the SQL Server machine, having them on the SQL Server machine might provide a very reliable environment, since no network access would be required for SQL Server to access these services.

Once you have established an environment that provides POP3 and SMTP services then you are ready to set up SQL Mail and SQL Agent Mail on your SQL Server machine.

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