Where is your email?

Do you know where your email is?

If you get to your inbox by opening your browser (e.g. Internet Explorer), you are using browser-based email.  You get to see ads while seeing your mail.  Examples are Yahoo, Microsoft’s new ONLINE Outlook, or Gmail.

If you get to your inbox by starting a program on your computer, you are using what is called “client-based” email.  It is a program on your computer that stores your contact list and your email on YOUR computer, instead of on some server somewhere out there on the Internet.

Outlook Express is an application program that came as part of Windows XP. If you have Windows Vista, it is called Windows Mail, or Windows Live Mail in Windows 7. Please do not confuse Live Mail and Windows Live Mail. Do not confuse Outlook Express (OE) with Outlook (the Microsoft Office suite program). Sounds a lot alike, but very different.

OE was originally a limited version of Outlook. Outlook is part of Microsoft Office and if you want it, you will have to buy it — over $140. Outlook is commonly used by business people and can be setup to automatically synch with a BlackBerry. If you use Outlook Express, Windows Mail, or Windows Live Mail (NOT Live Mail), you are storing your email and address book (also called Contacts) on your computer. Using Outlook Express, Outlook, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird allows you to set up a filing system to store your email and contact information on your computer.

If you read and send your email by opening Internet Explorer (or any other browser), you are using a browser-based email system (AKA webmail), in this case, both your contacts (address book) and your mail are not on your computer. Rather, they are stored on the Internet server of the system you are using.

Common examples are Yahoo, Rogers (which uses Yahoo), Bell (previously called Sympatico – which now uses Microsoft’s latest webmail program named Outlook — here we go again!), Google (Gmail), Live Mail or Outlook (confusing eh!) (Microsoft used to call it MSN or Hot Mail). If you use browser-based email, you trust your email service provider to keep it safe for you.

The providers much prefer you use their browser-based email system and never delete any email from your inbox.  They then read your email in order to construct a personal profile and display targeted advertising to your email web page.  If you use email client software, you don’t get to see that advertising and can delete most of what is in your provider’s inbox, after downloading to your computer.

Storing your email and contacts on your email service provider’s server, permits you to access your stored mail when you are not at your own PC. It will also not be at-risk, should your hard drive fail. You can send and receive email using their server when away from your computer whether you use OE, Outlook or browser-based tools (AKA webmail). You can even copy your contact list to your email service provider’s server, but you will then need to somehow keep it in synch.

It is also important to note that it is impossible to move your stored email or contacts to a different provider, if you use browser-based email.