Email is obviously the preferred method of communication in today’s world and it is entrenched in our daily personal, work and home lives with no sign of being replaced any time soon. There are certainly other useful methods of communicating such as instant messaging programs, texting, and various apps but as of yet nothing offers the overall flexibility, ease of use and functionality that email delivers to users.
However, as useful as email is, having your email account or accounts set up properly, integrated with your devices and all with the proper security protocols is quite a complicated process. Many times we take the ease of use that email provides for granted and do not take the additional steps necessary to understand what type of email we are using and how it should be properly set up on our devices.
There are several different types of email and the exact settings and requirements of each vary, which are also affected by the type of device you are using as well. Understanding the almost unlimited combinations of email types, devices and protocols can be somewhat daunting for the average user but let’s start at the beginning in an effort to try and make things a bit easier to comprehend.
If you are using email then you are either using an “email client” or some form of “webmail”. Millions of people around the world use Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Yahoo or many others which are all examples of webmail services.
Zimbra Desktop, Microsoft Outlook, and Thunderbird are all examples of what are known as email clients which are software that is stored and function directly on your machine, even though some of its functionality also happens away from your machine as well.
Email clients and webmail both do the same thing, receive and send email. Although they do it in different ways and they provide different capabilities and functionality from one another. Webmail typically does not require that you download any software or adjust any settings directly on your machine, all of the functions of webmail happen on a server that you access via the internet with no reliance on the functions of your PC.
Email clients are programs that are stored directly on your machine or a server that is located at your physical location. It requires that you download software, adjust settings on your machine and keep the program updated and maintained as necessary. The two big advantages to using an email client are you have some ability to work with your email offline and you can use an email client that has a user interface you prefer if you do not like a particular UI of your webmail provider.
For example, if you like the way Thunderbird’s user interface looks, then you can have your Gmail, Yahoo or any other email delivered to the Thunderbird email client or whatever email client you prefer.
There are many different email clients available each one with its own advantages, disadvantages and capabilities. Additionally, some of them have limitations on what types of devices they are compatible with and require different settings depending on if you want to use POP, IMAP or SMTP type email service. Needless to say, this can get a bit complicated and to complete the setup process correctly can be even more difficult if you are not a trained technician.
Every email type or service offers two things to users, a front end user interface, and backend functionality. The front end UI determines the overall look and behavior of how a user interacts with email on a regular basis. The backend functionality is what determines how the program be it an email client or webmail actually functions and delivers or receives mail.
POP (Post Office Protocol) began many years ago and was around in the early years of the internet as far back as 1984. The current POP version is an email protocol and remains very popular to this day as it tends to be a very simple way of receiving and delivering email. POP creates copies locally of email and then removes the original version of the email from the server. This limits access in some ways but POP potentially has a few less complexities compared to other protocols.
IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a more modern style of email protocol and allows a very flexible platform for retrieving, viewing and storing email. It operates much like most cloud-based applications allowing users to work with email through a number of devices and in various platforms while maintaining its integrity in actions the user has taken such as deleting or moving email messages. While it does allow for a large amount of flexibility in how you work with email and from what device or platform because the core data is stored on a remote server your storage space can be somewhat limited.
It is important when working with IMAP email to know what you storage limitations are and how the settings of your device have been setup. If they do not fit your habits or expectations you can run into storage space issues with email that will not function properly.
There are other email protocols and servers that come into play as well such SMTP, exchange servers and SSL connections for sending or receiving mail with make things even more complex for many users. The most important thing to remember is each protocol, the settings of your device, your security settings and your storage allowance all must be set up for your specific combination of devices and protocols.
If you have not looked at the exact settings of your email you should not assume they are fine. One of the biggest security issues and vulnerabilities with using the internet is your email as it contains a large amount of personal data that you use every day. Additionally, if you look back at emails you have stored, most of us sensitive personal information that we would not want leaking out onto the internet or accessed by unauthorized individuals.
Most of what we discussed above is perhaps a little above what the average user really wants to know about their email service. If you are like most people, you just want it to work! However, using a remote IT support to help you ensure the security of your PC or laptop and your email is highly recommended. Our trained professional technicians can review the settings of your webmail, email client, and your device to ensure everything is properly set up so you avoid functionality issues and security problems.
We offer individual users high-quality service at reasonable rates that are affordable for even occasional computer users. If you haven’t checked your email settings or you are unsure of how to do so, then please do not hesitate to contact our remote IT support service for quick and cost-effective assistance.