Two main types of email service...
There are, in simplest
terms, two main types of email service. They can be
combined in different ways, making it seem like more, but you
uses an email client such as Outlook or Eudora to download
messages from your online mailbox to your computer. The
email client must be configured to access your mailbox.
You must specify specific mail servers, define a protocol, and
set passwords and permissions before you can use it for
sending or receiving email.
as the Internet became more consumer oriented, an easier type
of email emerged. Web-based email like Hotmail requires
no email client, and messages are stored, not on your
computer, but on the mail server. The service is
accessed through your browser, and requires nothing more to
start using than a user name and password.
Neither of these
types of email is better than the other. Each has its
strengths and weaknesses, and is particularly well suited for
certain types of circumstances. Problems arise when you
don't allow for the limits and behaviors that each exhibits.
A variety of strengths and weaknesses
Traditional email transfers files to your computer, where
they're stored for offline access. Outgoing mail is held
in an outbox until it is overtly sent, whether through a manual
or automated process. You can set it up to save copies of
all email, sent or received, in archives on your computer.
The email client can automatically manage the online mailbox,
keeping it clear for incoming messages.
On the minus side,
traditional email is configured on, and managed from, a specific
computer. Once downloaded, messages are stored on that
computer, and inaccessible from elsewhere.
Web based email
keeps what it keeps in the online space you've been allotted for
it. Once that space fills up, whether with incoming mail,
oversized attachments, spam, or copies of sent messages, web
based email will not accept new messages. You have to
manually manage the mail-space, deleting old messages to make
room for new ones, and manually accessing the mailbox on a
regular basis to make certain it stays clear.
On the plus side,
web-based email is accessible through any Internet connection,
anywhere. You don't have to configure anything, so you can
use any computer to check or send your messages.
Working at cross-purposes
In recent years, there's been a move toward hybridized email
accounts. Many ISP's and domain hosts now offer a
web-based interface to a traditional email mailbox. In
theory, this should provide the best of both worlds, with both
"anywhere access" and local system storage for your message
files. We've seen a lot of problems with this arrangement
though. To use it well, you have to understand the way it
works and how it differs through a web-based or traditional
email client. Since you can use either one, you have to
understand them both. Fail to do so, and email will become
increasingly perplexing and, eventually, unusable.
Further muddying the
waters, there are other once esoteric options now readily
available. Forwarding and alias accounts aren't "real"
accounts at all, but relays that shunt mail addressed to them
into another mailbox. These are potentially quite useful.
Once again though, you must be mindful of how they work, else
they may not work for you or, worse, not work as intended.
Rounding all the bases
In the example below, we'll show all the basic email options,
and how they may be used by an advanced email user- one who
understands the different types of email, and how they can be
made to work.
This is one of many
ways that email accounts can be set up. It's a way that
our fictional character (we'll call him
Mike) finds useful. Your needs or concerns may be
different. The important thing is to see the options, how
they work, and how they could be adapted for your purposes.
Like many Internet
users, Mike has more than one email account, and several
addresses. These help him manage all his messages, no
matter where they come from or which address they're sent to.
email is Mike@MikesBusiness.com. His personal email is
has a junk mail account at Hotmail, and his web site accepts
mail sent to any name @MikesBusiness.com.
In basic outline
form, it looks like