Setting up E-mail

When we are setting up new computers for our customers among the more common things we are asked to transfer are their e-mail accounts, contacts, and e-mail messages. To be able to do this we need to ask a few questions our end; some of them are easy to answer such as “what is your e-mail address?” Progressing to something a little more difficult; “what is the password for that e-mail address?” And finally to one of my favourites (often met with a blank stare) “what do you use to send and receive your e-mails?” You may be unaware (as many others are) that there are several different methods when it comes to sending and receiving e-mail, and each with their own distinct pros and cons. The two main methods for sending and receiving emails are desktop mail clients and webmail.

Desktop mail clients are programmes that run from your computer; some examples are Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail, and Thunder Bird. For the sake of this example we’ll assume that like most you will have your desktop mail client setup in POP (Post Office Protocol; details of this are a little beyond the scope of this post, but we will touch on in a couple of weeks). These programmes download the information from the mail server and store that information on your computer; they then delete this information off of the mail server. When you send an e-mail that message is stored on your computer and pushed out from your computer via your e-mail server on to the recipient, note that the e-mail is not then stored on the mail server. Desktop mail clients are great because they:

1)      Allow for offline access to the e-mails you have already downloaded

2)      Are more easily able to make a complete backup of you messages, contacts, and appointments (if using a calendar)

3)      Tend to be more responsive than webmail clients

4)      Offer better formatting and editing functions

This all comes at a price: all of this information is stored on your computer. To a certain extent you are going to be limited to viewing your e-mails on your computer. If you do (as some do) have your e-mail account setup on your phone and your computer you will be unable to see what e-mails have been sent from the other device unless you copy yourself in on the e-mails you send.

Webmail is accessed through a web browser. It has been made popular by the likes of Hotmail, Google, and Yahoo to name but a few. The real beauty of webmail is that you are able to access your e-mail account (the entire thing: sent messages and all!) from any computer that is connected to the internet, and this is priceless if you need access to your e-mail on the go or your computer has gone down. The other handy features of webmail are as follows:

1)      You normally get a vast amount of storage space (currently 15GB for Gmail accounts) which means you won’t be taking up space on your computer

2)      Webmail operators backup more frequently than you do

3)      The communication between you and the mail server is normally secured and encrypted (this is not normally the case with desktop clients)

4)      On the go access to your entire account (as previously mentioned)

Webmail, as flexible as it is, does have its draw back though. You will need to have an active internet connection to use the service (so you won’t be able to view mail offline), you will also find that the services can be a little slow (and if you are already on a slow connection the problem may be compounded), and finally if you are using webmail on public machines (e.g. internet cafes) then you do expose yourself to leaving your account logged in (make sure you click the log out button), and becoming the victim of key logging software (which is a bit of software used to log keys pressed and thus reveal your password).

We have been setting up e-mail accounts for customers in all sorts of circumstances so if you want to move from webmail to a desktop mail client get in contact with us. Another example that we have also been setting up email accounts to deliver emails through to our customers smart phones and other portable devices then let us know and we can book the job in for you. If you are a ByteSafe Home customer then the service is provided free of charge! Just another great reason to be a ByteSafe Home customer.

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