Mail – how does it flow

How does your email move and where is it stored when you use Windows Live Mail (WLM).

All email is sent from and arrives at your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) servers. Your ISP is essentially a post office, but there is a difference because it is all digital.

A couple of examples of the predominant ISPs in the Toronto region are Bell (Sympatico) and Rogers, Bell uses Microsoft’s Outlook service. Rogers uses Yahoo.

Those companies do not limit the number of emails you store there because they use them to profile you so that they can target advertising that you see when you log in to their servers. I would prefer to limit, their ability to profile me, so I keep email stored there down to a minimum.

When you use Windows Live Mail on your computer, you are essentially employing a contractor to go to the server every n minutes to see if there is new mail or to send email that you have prepared and have clicked the Send button.

There are advantages to using WLM. You get to store your own email and contact information on your computer, which enables you to switch ISPs at some future date and still keep your information. You do not have to look at all those ads that you would see paraded in front of your eyes if you go to the server to read and send your email.

When you use WLM, you are responsible for backing it up.

What happens to your email in this setup? WLM has settings that allow you to manage what happens to the email stored on the ISP server.

  • You can have it deleted the instant it is downloaded to your computer, or never.
  • You can tell the server to delete it n days after downloading to WLM on your computer.
  • You can have your email deleted from the server when you delete it from WLM’s Deleted folder.

When you are not at your computer and it is not running WLM, you can still access your email from the ISP’s server. Mail that arrives in your server inbox will stay there until you return and start up WLM. Keep in mind that if you delete an email from the server, it will not be sent down to your computer when you come back home and start WLM. Also, email sent from the ISP server will not be downloaded to WLM’s Sent folder. If you want that to happen, simply send a copy of the email to yourself.