What is webmail?

Webmail are web-based email accounts. These are usually free email accounts that are operated from a website.                                                        Examples include Hotmail, GMail and Yahoo Mail.

Webmail allows the users to access their emails as long as they have access to an Internet connection and a web browser.  This also means that the user cannot read an old email or draft a new email offline.

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POP3 Email Accounts

POP3 is the oldest Internet message access protocol. It was designed to support offline/local email processing. Email is delivered to a mail server and a remote email client periodically downloads the email from the server to the user’s computer. Once the messages are delivered, they are deleted from the mailserver, although users can configure their email client to leave a copy of the email on the mail server.

POP3 email accounts require an email client to send and receive emails. Common email clients include Netscape Messenger, Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, OSX mail, and more.

When you check your email using an email client, it makes a connection to your mailserver and downloads your emails on to your computer. Note that POP3 handles mail access (or mail retrieval) only. Email sending is handled by SMTP.

Advantages of POP3:

  • All emails are downloaded to your computer. You can read your emails without being logged onto the Internet
  • Opening attachments is easy and quick as the file is already downloaded on to you computer
  • It frees up storage space on your mailserver, and there is not a maximum size on your mailbox (except as determined by the size of your hard drive)

Disadvantages of POP3:

  • Opening attachments is easy and quick, sometimes a bit too easy and quick if the attachment has a virus in it
  • All messages are downloaded on to the accessing email client/computer. This means that the user will need to go back to the same computer to access the emails

Outgoing Email Server – SMTP

SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. It handles the sending of emails.
The ability to support email services includes to critical functions: SMTP and POP3. Together, they allow the user to send outgoing mail and retrieve incoming mail, respectively.

The SMTP server performs two basic functions:

  • It verifies that anyone attempting to send outgoing email through the SMTP server is allowed to do so
  • It sends the outgoing mail and if undeliverable, sends the message back to the sender

If you are using an email client, you will need to configure the SMTP server setting so that you can send outgoing emails.

Some hosting companies do not offer SMTP services as they can be difficult to maintain.  If your hosting company does not offer SMTP service, another option is to use that of your Internet service provider.