There are two ways to get e-mail over the Internet. One is by using an e-mail client program installed in the user's computer, and the other is Web-based e-mail accessible from a Web browser on any computer. Very often, mail can be sent and received on the same service via both e-mail client programs and Web browsers.|
The E-Mail Client - Tied to a Computer
The use of a mail program installed in the user's computer, such as Outlook, Eudora or Thunderbird, is the legacy approach, which is often richer in features than Web-based mail. The disadvantage is that e-mail access is tied to the machine the software is installed in. To retrieve e-mail from another computer, one has to install the mail client in the second computer and set up the program all over again.
Web-based E-Mail - From Any Computer
Also called "online e-mail" or "cloud mail," Web-based e-mail has two major advantages. First, messages can be sent and retrieved using any Web browser in the world by logging into the e-mail site with username and password. Even if a client e-mail program is routinely used, Web-based e-mail (Webmail) provides a convenient alternative when traveling.
Secondly, a person can keep their Web-based e-mail address no matter how many times they switch ISPs for Internet access. If users do not have Web-based e-mail, they typically use their ISP's mail server. If they switch to a different ISP, they must notify everyone that me@oldISP.com is now me@newISP.com, because ISPs might not forward mail. See cloud computing.
Free May Have Limitations
Most Web-based e-mail services are supported only by advertising; however, check size limits. If you receive large images and other attachments, your inbox could fill up before you check your mail, and subsequent e-mails and attachments will be turned away.
The Same Address Forever!
If you change your Web-based e-mail service, you still have the change-of-address problem. One way to solve that for good is to register your own domain name and have an Internet service provider (ISP) host your mail service so that email@example.com is yours permanently, even if you switch to another ISP. You use your favorite e-mail client program to manage your mail and/or the Web-based mail offered by the ISP. See POP3 and IMAP4.
For a directory of e-mail sites, visit www.emailaddresses.com. Some of the major sites are:
www.gmail.com (Web based)
www.hotmail.com (Web based)
www.juno.com (Web based and non-Web)
www.mail.com (Web based)
www.netscape.com (Web based)
www.yahoo.com (Web based)
www.zoho.com (Web based)