In the course of my work with people online, I often run into a
wall of confusion when I speak of the different types of email
available. People will ask help with their email accounts. I
always ask, "do you have a web mail account or a POP3 email
In my mind, it has always been a rather simple question. Yet,
the truth is that the answer is not so simple to most Internet
users. If you are scratching your head trying to figure out
just what I am talking about, you will be able to answer the
question without confusion by the time you finish reading this
Real quickly, I would like to outline for you the distinctions
between the two types of email so that you can begin to
understand the differences between the two formats.
I will begin with POP3 since that is the one that is often the
most confusing and least known type.
POP3 email accounts require a piece of software called an email
reader in order to send and receive email. Common applications
that serve as email readers are: Netscape Messenger, Outlook
Express, Outlook, AOL email, Pegasys, Eudora, Juno and a few
While email readers are often bundled with Internet browsers,
they are actually a separate piece of software. With a reader,
when you are ready to check your email, you start your email
software. Once it opens, click a button on your toolbar to
download your email and wait for your email to download to
your computer so that you can begin reading it.
When you are ready to create a new email to send to others, you
have the options of Reply, Forward, or New Message. Which ever
method you use, you must click the correct button inside your
software to create the new message.
Advantages of POP3 email:
- You can read your mail without being logged onto the Internet.
- You may create new messages to send to others without being
logged onto the Internet.
- All messages are stored on your hard drive on your own
- There are often no size limits on the email you send or
- There is not a maximum size on your mailbox, except as
determined by the size of your hard drive.
- There is no advertising when you read your email unless you
are using an Adware email reader like Eudora.
- Opening attachments is a quick and painless process.
Disadvantages of POP3 email:
- Opening attachments is a quick and painless process, unless
the attachment has a virus payload in it.
- All messages are stored on your system, and privacy disappears
when someone sits down at your machine. Even if your email
reader is password protected, it is often possible for someone
who knows what they are doing to read your email by using
another application to open your mail folders.
- All messages are stored on your hard drive eating up what is
sometimes very valuable space.
- Email folders can become corrupted and sometimes lost forever.
To get a much more detailed view of exactly how POP3 email
works, there are actually two different servers running on
a server machine. One is called the SMTP Server, where SMTP
stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The SMTP server
handles outgoing mail. The other is a POP3 Server, where POP
stands for Post Office Protocol. The POP3 server handles
incoming mail. The following link provides a look at exactly
how POP3 email works in detail:
Web-based email is the type that people are most familiar with.
Whereas POP3 email requires an email reader, web mail only
requires a browser like Netscape, Internet Explorer, Opera,
NeoPlanet or Enigma.
Common brands of web-based email include: Yahoo!, Hotmail,
AltaVista, Lycos, USA, Netscape.net and thousands of others.
The Advantages of web-based email includes:
- You only need a browser to check your email from any computer
on the planet.
- Your email is 100% secure from folks browsing your computer,
unless the person acquires your password.
- Email is stored on someone else's server.
- You do not have to wait for your email to download.
The Disadvantages of web-based email include:
- Most web-based email accounts have a size limit.
- Some accounts have a limit to the size of an individual email.
- Emails of more than 25kb are often changed into attachments.
- Getting an attachment out of one of these emails is sometimes
- Most of these accounts have spam filters that send requested
ezines into the spam folder.
- Nearly all of these accounts have lots of advertising while
you are reading your mail.
- You must be online to view your email.
For years, your only choice has been POP3 or web-based email. In
this last couple of years, a new type of email reader application
has come onto the scene. This type of application is an email
retrieval software which allows you to check your mail on both
POP3 and web-based email accounts. This software provides you
most of the functionality of POP3 email reader software, but it
permits you to check both types of email accounts at the same
There are several different programs available in this genre.
Among those that are available, the best I have found is an
application called ePrompter at: http://eprompter.com/
ePrompter will permit you to check up to 8 different email
accounts at a time, both POP3 accounts and most web-based email
accounts. As with most email readers and browsers, ePrompter is
a Free application.
Just like a Dummy book, this article serves only as an
introduction to the different types of email available on
the net. The "How Stuff Works" site does a very good job at
describing how POP3 email works. To get a complete grasp of
how email works, please take a look at the "How Email Works"