Saturday, March 26, 2005

E-mail programs - be gone!

No matter what e-mail program you use, you've probably wondered what the competition works like. Between Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Thunderbird and all the others, there are a lot of programs to choose from for accessing and managing your messages.

I've tried them all and they all share (IMHO) the same huge flaws. For one, if you need to back up your collected e-mail addresses or archived messages, it's not always an easy task. Second, practically every program has documented security flaws, that allow for everything from malicious scripts being allowed to run inside of messages, web links to be followed without question, etc. Third, if you use an e-mail program on your computer to check and read your messages, you often are prevented from viewing those same messages anywhere else, because they reside on your PC once you download them.

I have finally freed myself of these applications and rely solely on webmail. Even if your e-mail account is from your Internet provider, they likely have a webmail interface. This means all you need is a browser, your username and password to access your e-mail from anywhere, just like Hotmail. And the best part is the messages stay on the server, where they are less likely to damage your computer. The only people who might have a problem with this arrangement are those who must archive all messages they've received - even after they're read. Your ISP's mail server may not have room for every message you'll store - but there's a solution for that too: GMail. Just get a Google mail account, which has 1GB storage. Any messages you want archived, just forward them there.

Then there's the matter of where do you store your needed e-mail addresses. Simple. In an Excel spreadsheet. It's not quite as convenient as using a program's built-in address book, but you'll always know where they are, how to back them up and viruses will not be able to use your contacts as destinations for copies of themselves.


Nancy said...

What is the procedure for backing up colleted e-mail addresses and archived messages with Outlook Express?

Karl Plesz said...

There, you see? My point exactly. I never remember the procedure myself, because it's different for different scenarios. But there is this tutorial:

Jon said...

Are you aware that you can set all (yes - brave to say 'all', I know) POP clients to leave messages on the server?

This addresses the cons of both IMAP and POP. The con os IMAP is that you have to rely on your ISP to have their IMAP server running ALL THE TIME. There is no concept of 'offline mode'. The con of POP is, as you've noted, all your email is on your local machine and not accessible from anywhere else.

HOwever, if you do the 'do not delete' trick, you will have a local copy on your machine and you have a copy on your ISPs server to access via webmail whenever you want.

Personally you would never catch me relying 100% on my ISP to provide me with access to my email whenever I want. I have yet to see an ISP who is reliable enough to deserve that type of confidence from me.

Google has been nice enough to allow POPing of Gmail, so you can use this 'do not delete' process with your Gmail account as well.

The only significant item to note is that your POP client will usually only download email that is in your ISP account's 'inbox'. If you create a folder with you ISP's webmail and move email into it via the web interface, then that email won't download when you POP that account.

It's kind of like a poor man's IMAP (because IMAP was rare and expensive in the beginning), but it really has all the advantages of both email systems.

Anonymous said...

Gmail is awsome!

Youcan do so much with it, including uploading your contacts from outlook, and accessing your gmial account from outlook:

.... and so much more!

If anyone is in need of a gmail account, I have about 50 invites to send out, email me @

Anonymous said...

Ouch, Gmail..... bad, very bad that stuff. Where hotmail, yahoo mail and the rest of the free mail systems are mostly junk, you have a little bit of privacy. With Gmail, well, you are leaving yourself open to all kinds of invasion of privacy. Read the licensing agreement carefully.

This is a good article

If privacy is not a concern, why not. But if you value your privacy, think twice about it.

I still wonder why anyone would need to save that much mail. Not that it matters much, anyway. Just my two cents.

Karl Plesz said...

I agree with your assessment, but let's be serious. The 'other' web based e-mail services are no more secure or private than Google's. To believe otherwise is fooling yourself. "Styx" [said in a low voice a la Goldmember]

RPM said...

Nowadays, images in emails can also cause problems. As long as you use a computer, you are submitting yourself to virus writers and spyware writers. I would rather have a solid email client, with, like someone else suggested, 'leave messages on server' option so that you have them on webmail too.

My problem is that I want to use GMail with POP access, but at the same time, use multiple POP clients on it. I cannot. As soon as I read messages from one POP client, I cannot read them from the other, even though they still exist on the GMail web interface.

In fact, that is how I came to your blog - looking for GMail/2 POP clients :-)