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  • Understanding the Technology of Email
    Copyright 2001, Bill Platt

    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.
    - If you have JavaScript enabled in your email reader, you might 
      be target of rogue JavaScript embedded in an email.
    - 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 
      very difficult. 
    - 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" 
    tutorial at:

    Bill Platt owns http://thePhantomWriters.com . Do you need free content for your website or ezine? Our archives deliver more than 350 free-reprint articles available for your use. http://content.thePhantomWriters.com . Do you write your own articles? Let us distribute them for you to our network of 6000+ publishers & webmasters http://thePhantomWriters.com/distribution

    This article was originally written: November, 2001

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