Friday, December 23, 2011

Email Client vs. Web Interface

If you use a regular email client program (I recommend and support Mozilla Thunderbird only) it helps to be aware of a few simple things about email.

Email client programs download the mails to the computer they run on and you maintain the emails and your filing system yourself. Once the emails are on your computer they should be gone from your ISP's server; IMHO this is an important security and privacy aspect.

I usually talk to my customers about the differences between an email client and an Internet based Web Interface and some of the consequences. "Normally" you should maintain your emails on your home computer, IMHO at least.The "Web Interface" is a complex web page that shows you the emails that are on the ISP's server in a web browser like Mozilla Firefox.

If you leave the emails on the ISP's server and access them only through a Web Interface you have no control whatsoever about who and what the ISP allows to scan and analyze your emails. Okay, I do not trust big companies' privacy promises, not at all; in the past there have been way too many bad surprises. 
If you travel often and want to see what new emails have arrived (and if the email client on the home computer is inactive) you typically go through a Web Interface, that is an Internet based way of accessing the emails that have not yet been downloaded to the computer at home. The three most common large Internet Service Providers in our area and the  URL to access their Web Interfaces are:
If at home you use a client program like Thunderbird you can only send and receive emails when your computer connects to the Internet through your ISP. When you are connecting through other services like at a friend's house or at a public hot spot you have to use a Web Interface through your web browser.

Many people do not want to deal with the "complexity" I described above. For these people I recommend an account with Google Mail at Gmail can be set up to automatically load emails from almost any ISP.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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