Why You Should Dump Outlook and Windows Live Mail
Are you still struggling with the limitations of Outlook, Outlook Express, or Windows Live Mail? Join the many email users who have dumped desktop email clients for the ease and convenience of web-based email. Here's my advice on why it's time to switch to webmail...
Survey Says... "Webmail is Better!"
In a 2010 poll conducted by Mashable.com, 70 per cent of voters preferred web-based Gmail over Microsoft Outlook. Voters' comments suggest the main advantage of Gmail is portability. Webmail lets you check send and receive email from your own computer desktop, or any computer in the world. Why stay chained to your desktop, when you can check email from your laptop, iPad, or mobile phone?
Gmail is my personal favorite among the webmail services, but the same benefits apply for any webmail service provider. Millions of people use Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and other webmail services to stay connected to their email inbox anywhere there is an Internet connection.
Webmail is maintenance-free for users, too. There is no need to download, install or update software, junk mail definition databases, or other app components. Webmail requires only a standard web browser, eliminating one more disk-hogging application program.
Over time, email messages can consume a lot of disk space, but with webmail, messages remain on the provider's server. Messages are easily searched, archived, deleted, forwarded, etc., all without eating up your hard drive, processor power or bandwidth. That's especially important when dealing with messages that include large attached files.
Setup and Security is Simplified
There is very little to configure when setting up a webmail account compared to desktop email clients. You don't need to know the cryptic names of POP and SMTP servers. You don't have to select the type of connection to make, confusing security options, or what to do with mail after it is read. Just make up an email address and password, and you're all set. But you can still configure folders, message filing rules, custom spam filters, signatures and other personal touches.
Security is another reason to rely on webmail instead of a desktop email client. The spam filters and anti-malware software used by Web-based email servers are industrial-strength and kept up to date by dedicated IT pros. Encrypted HTTP connections to webmail ensure that no one can intercept your mail in transit. And if your laptop or smartphone gets lost or stolen, your email won't be on it for others to read.
One of the best reasons for switching to a webmail solution may not be obvious. How many times have you switched your ISP (internet service provider), and had to go through the hassle of getting a new email address, and then notifying all your contacts? With webmail, you can keep the same address even if you switch providers.
If you like, you can continue to receive mail at your old address, because webmail systems can easily retrieve that mail as well. You can even migrate email, contacts and calendar data from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail with a migration tool. I haven't researched it, but there may be similar tools to import into Hotmail and Yahoo.
You'll Have to Pry Outlook From My Cold, Dead Fingers!
There are some cases in which a desktop email client makes more sense than webmail. Users with multiple email addresses for work, personal mail, etc., may find it more convenient to route all mail to a desktop client. If you have to save a very large volume of email, storage limits imposed by webmail providers may hinder you. But Gmail, for example, provides a generous 7.5 GB of storage space.
Also, you may not be able to attach certain types of files to a webmail email message. For security reasons, Gmail does not accept files that are executable, i.e., .EXE., .COM, etc. Even if such files are archived in a ZIP file, Gmail will sniff them out and reject them.
And there's always the remote possibility that your webmail provider will mysteriously lose all your email, or erroneously lock you out of your account. I've been using GMail for over seven years, and I've never had an outage lasting more than a few minutes. Compare that to the number of people who've written to me saying they lost all their mail because their Outlook PST file got corrupted, and I'll choose webmail every time.
For most users, the advantages of webmail far outweigh its limitations. If your existing email service provider offers a webmail alternative, it might be worth a look. But you'll still be tied to your ISP, and it will probably lack the cutting edge features offered by Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. My advice: cut the desktop email cord and give webmail a try. You won't regret doing so.
What's YOUR favorite thing about webmail? Post your comment or question below?
Posted by Bob Rankin on 13 May 2011
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved