By Joe Callison
26 December, 2017
There are two methods that most people use for handling email. The most common method these days is using a web-based email client. Examples are Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, or anything else that opens up in your web browser to connect to the host email servers to view or send email that is stored by the servers. The other method is an email program or app that installs and runs on your computer and connects to the host email servers to download the new mail to your computer for storage. Outlook Express and the older versions of the full Outlook program available from Microsoft as part of the Office suite (not to be confused with outlook.com which is web-based) are examples.
These programs originated back in the days of telephone based modems, so they connect only briefly with the email servers to send and receive new email. All composing, reading, and storage of email is normally done off-line on your local computer using the email client program. Just a few years back, even web-based email providers would severely limit the frequency of your access to the email servers and the amount of storage of new mail on the servers waiting to be downloaded or optionally left on the server after download. As data storage and higher internet bandwidth has become far less expensive, most email servers now have very generous amounts of storage to maintain your email on the servers to allow synchronizing your computer’s, tablet’s and phone’s email folders across all of your devices for the same email account by a process called IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) instead of just fetching or sending new email to one connected device at a time with the older POP3 (Post Office Protocol). You can also use both web-based email access and client-based programs on your computer such as the Windows Mail app or recent Outlook versions to access the same synchronized email if the account is configured using IMAP in the account settings for the email server.
One negative aspect of web-based email could be lack of ability to read, organize or compose email while you are not connected to the internet. Google has an app for that! It is Gmail Offline and you can get instructions for installing and using it here:
Many people use the email service from their internet service provider exclusively. One problem with that is in the event they decide to change internet service providers, which is quite common these days. It is inconvenient to have to change your email address every time you change internet service providers. By using one of the large and well known free web-based email services that are not run by your internet service provider, such as Google’s gmail.com or Microsoft’s outlook.com, it is unlikely your will ever have to change your email address again.
Note that both Yahoo and AOL have been purchased by Verizon and are being combined into one new subsidiary called Oath. Existing Yahoo and AOL email addresses will be maintained.
Existing email addresses for customers of AT&T and its subsidiaries that were handled by Yahoo will also be maintained even if they end up using another email service for their customers’ accounts.
Another problem with using one email address exclusively is it makes it more difficult to recover a forgotten or hacked email password. Most email account passwords can be recovered or changed easily if you have either an alternate email address or a phone number that can receive text messages, or both methods, configured in your email account settings for recovery. This is especially important for free web-based email accounts that are not with your internet service provider, as there is no billing account information that can be used to verify your identity, so trying to contact the provider for help with recovery is often not even an option.
Another benefit of having more than one email address is so you can use one address exclusively for friends, relatives and important business matters and use another address for all those instances that you have to provide an email address to companies that are likely to spam you with messages even if you opt out of receiving them.
Did you know you can send text messages to phones using your email? It is a little tricky in that you have to know the carrier for the phone number you are sending a text to, along with that carrier’s server name. The carrier lookup services you can find on the internet that can supposedly tell you the carrier if you enter a phone number may not be reliable. I found that they still show my original carrier even though I switched a few years ago. If you have a friend or family member that you occasionally would like to be able to send a text message to from your email, then finding out their carrier for future reference is a viable option. Below is a link to an article with instructions on sending text by email and server names for various carriers. Note that SMS (Short Message Service) is for text only and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) includes pictures and videos. Some carriers have separate servers listed for each type of service.
For more email tips, see my September 14, 2015 blog article titled Managing Email Accounts.