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Is Webmail Worth It?

Friday, April 20th, 2007 by | Filed Under: E-Mail Help
 
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Q:
I’ve been using Outlook Express for quite awhile now, but lately, I’ve been thinking about switching to a Web based e-mail program. Is it really worth it? Is Webmail better? Please tell me all you know!

A:
Great question! I’m sure that over the years, there have been several of you who have wondered this very same thing. It’s always a guessing game when you’re thinking about switching to another service and it’s definitely no different for e-mail clients. When comparing Web based e-mail and desktop e-mail, there’s obviously a lot of pros and cons, but the ultimate decision is yours. So, I’ll just go over some of those advantages and disadvantages and you can decide from there!

First off, I want to make sure everyone understands what I’m talking about when I say Web based e-mail (also known as Webmail) and desktop e-mail. Basically, a desktop e-mail program is one that you can use right from your computer. They usually come pre-installed on every single computer that is sold and you just have to activate your account to start using it. A couple examples of desktop e-mail clients are Outlook Express and Thunderbird.

On the other hand, Web based e-mail programs are the ones like Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail, etc. With them, you handle all of your e-mail right from your Web browser. You choose one that you’d like to use, you sign up for it and then when you want to check your e-mail, you just go to their Web site, sign in and all of your e-mail will come up.

Now, another question that comes along with Webmail is its security. Webmail is just as secure as desktop mail. They also include everything that you’d expect to get from a desktop e-mail client, like an address book, customized folders, spell check and spam filtering. Okay, now that all of that is out of the way, let’s take a look at those pros and cons, shall we?!

Pros of Webmail

  • There’s no software included with Webmail. You don’t have to install anything or keep up with it throughout your e-mail use. Like I said before, everything runs right through your Web browser, so you’re also eliminating certain types of spyware and viruses.
  • Webmail saves you some space on your hard drive. All your e-mail folders are stored online through your browser, so you don’t have to worry about getting too many e-mails that will eat up all your extra space.
  • You don’t have to worry about backing up any of your e-mails. All of your e-mails are kept on a remote server, so they’re always available when you need them.
  • Webmail is completely independent from ISPs. Therefore, Webmail can free you from certain ISPs. If you’ve been wanting to change your ISP for awhile, but you don’t want to lose your e-mail address and go through the hassle of changing it, you can start to use a Web based e-mail program. So, whenever you want to change your ISP, you can do so without having to change your e-mail address as well.
  • You can access your Webmail account from any computer. As long as the computer has an Internet connection, you can check your e-mail anywhere in the world. You don’t have to be on your home computer to see if you have any new messages. With a Webmail account, you can check it at the library, at a friend’s house, at a coffee shop, at work and so on.

Cons of Webmail

  • You do have to be online to use a Webmail program. This could cause some problems if you have a slower Internet connection, because you have to stay online until you’re completely done viewing, replying to, etc. your e-mails. With desktop e-mail, you can download your e-mails and then look at them offline if you need to.
  • With Webmail, you won’t be able to find extra features, such as stationery, templates, a dictionary, thesaurus, etc. You can’t do much text formatting either.
  • Webmail is free, but you basically get what you pay for when it comes to e-mail storage space and availability. Also, if your Webmail client goes out of business, you’re pretty much out of luck.

There’s the quick rundown for you. Now, if you think the pros outweigh the cons and you still want to switch to a Web based e-mail client, you can easily do so at any time. Three of the most popular Webmail programs are Yahoo!, Hotmail and Gmail. Each of these have a decent amount of storage space and they’re all 100 percent free. If you visit any of their Web sites, you’ll see a place where you can sign up to start receiving your e-mail there. It’s very easy to get started.

So, I’m not sure which way you’re all leaning on this topic, but hopefully, you now have enough information that will help you make your final decision. Many people use Webmail each and every day and they love it. Maybe it’s time you give it a try too!

~ Erin

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