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Email Basics

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Sending Email Attachments

Email started out as simple text messages sent to a recipient. It didn't offer much more versatility. However, advances in the use of email created a need to deliver more than just basic content messages. Now there is the ability to send attachments. Attachment literally means to "attach" a file to a text message. The attached file is then transferred along with the message to the recipient, where it is automatically downloaded and placed in a designated default folder. Most email client applications give users the option to choose which desktop folder they would like to use to save the attachment.

Any file can be attached to an email message. Two of the most common file types are documents and images.

Email File Sizes

Be aware that there are file size limitations for sending email. Each text character (such as the letter A) takes about 3 bytes of disk space. For roughly every 341 letters you type, it takes approximately 1 K (1 kilobyte) of file size.

Now, this may not be such a big deal when you consider that a standard hard drive is capable of storing several GB of information. But when millions of people log in to their Internet accounts, ISPs are inundated with users sending and receiving email. ISPs have set file size limits and disk space quotas on email messages and attached files, and virtual mailboxes to keep the mail servers from collapsing under the heavy traffic usage. Email will not be permitted if it's over a designated file size. These sizes can vary from 2 MB to 10 MB, depending on the system. Although a basic text message does not take up a large amount of space, file attachments and HTML emails may.

HTML Email

HTML emails usually contain the same coding as Web pages to create better-looking mail and can incorporate Macromedia Flash and graphical elements (pictures, images, etc.). File attachments in the form of photos, pictures, or images can take up a very large amount of space if not optimized. A JPEG photo saved from a digital camera and attached to email can take up several MB of space. Because every user is designated a virtual mailbox space on the mail servers, space is usually at a rare premium.

Finally, there's the issue of Internet connectivity. Most users still connect via analog modem at speeds of 33.6–56 Kbps. This means that they can transfer up to 56 kilobits of data every second. If you send an attached file that's several MB in size, you could be waiting quite a while for that message to finally be sent off to your intended receiver. What's worse is when the receiver tries to check email, only to find it choked with a large attached file. This can be most frustrating. The recipient might have another important message to check. He or she can't check for new email until the previous messages, including attached files, have been checked and downloaded first. Most email clients can limit the download size, and if your speed is slow you should consider using the option.

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