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Web-Based Email vs Client-Based Email

Of all the problems people have with computers, probably the most common is email. This is due in large part to the fact that email is probably the most commonly used element in a computer. Because answers to email questions usually require some information about the delivery method, many of them will begin with another question, “Are you using web-based email, or client-based email?”.


Web-based is email that’s viewed on the web (hence, the name). So, if you’re using Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, or any number of other web-based email providers, you can access it from any location, provided you can just remember that darn password.

Client-Based email is loaded directly on your computer by your client. This is done using installed software that, when opened, automatically downloads all your email, which you can then view at your leisure. Outlook, Thunderbird, and Windows Live Mail are just a few examples of email clients.


I prefer a combination, using Gmail and Outlook together. I can check my Gmail account from any location, but when I open Outlook at home, this same mail is directed into my computer. For me, one of the advantages of client-based email is that, if I’m not connected to the internet, I can still pull up an old email. It’s already there. On the other hand, my computer resources are taken up by the large amount of email stored there. Of course, I could delete those old messages but, as a life long pack rat, that’s just not my style.

Using client-based email, if I’m in a public place that provides internet access, I don’t need to log in to my Outlook account. This way, I can check my email without worrying that someone might be watching as I type in a password.

Another advantage of client-based email is that it’s easier to direct multiple email accounts to a single location. For example, if you use different email accounts for different reasons (a home account, a work account, etc), it’s relatively easy to direct all of them to your client-based email.

Knowing which method you use to access email won’t solve your email problems, but it may help lead you to a solution.