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Email Basics

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Email Client Applications

There are two main types of email in today's environment: standalone email software and Web-based email. The ability to read any electronic mail message requires an email client application.

Standalone Clients

A standalone client is a self-contained executable application. (The term client is used because email applications are based on the client/server architecture.) Electronic mail messages are routed from several clients to a central server. The server redirects the mail messages to an anticipated destination—another client. (A server is a machine or process dedicated to managing devices or network traffic.)

Well-known, standalone email clients are Microsoft Outlook Express and Netscape. Netscape has built-in email readers, and Outlook Express most often comes installed on your computer.

There are a number of popular, alternative, and often superior standalone email clients available. These are described in the following sections.


Eudora, from Qualcomm, may be the most popular standalone email program in use today (it's Dvorak's choice). It has two versions, Eudora Light (free) and Eudora Pro (paid). There are MAC, PC, and Palm OS versions available. Eudora has a host of features that include enhanced filtering (will match addresses against the address book), SSL (secure sockets layer) support, attachment cautions, in-line flagging of words or phrases identified as potentially offensive (its Moodwatch is a feature to warn of possible flame content for incoming or outgoing email), and email usage stats for insight into email.

For more information, go to http://www.eudora.com.


PocoMail was designed from the ground up to protect users from viruses and spam. This email client automates common email duties, including spellcheck and virus scanning. It offers a long list of features.

For more information, go to http://www.pocosystems.com.

Pegasus Mail

Pegasus Mail is a free, simple-to-use email program. It's recommended if you are new to email. It's been around since 1990, making it one of the oldest standalone systems. It is designed for computers running Microsoft Windows or Novell NetWare LANs. It features built-in security against viruses (including Trojan viruses), automated rule-based mail filtering, content control to trap spam and unwanted mail, support for all major Internet mail-related protocols (SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, LDAP, PH), and SSL support for secure mail access, among others. In fact, it has quite a few features, too numerous to list.

For more information, go to http://www.pmail.com.

Email Retrieval Protocols

POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) was a protocol written in 1988 by Marshall Rose. It allows a client to retrieve email from a server (it doesn't provide for sending email; that's done with SMTP or another method). This protocol is useful for computers without a permanent network connection because it allows for the mail to be held at the "post office" (the POP server) until you are ready and able to retrieve it. POP3 will transfer your email to the hard drive of your computer when you request your mail. Your mail is sent to your computer once you request it. However, because the mail is moved to your hard disk, it is better suited to those who check their email from one location only.

IMAP4 (Internet Message Access Protocol 4) is similar to POP but newer. It supports some additional features. With IMAP4, you can read and manipulate your mail messages while keeping them on the remote mail server. You can choose which messages to download to your machine. IMAP4 is useful for accessing mail from various locations. Most newer email clients support both systems.

Web Mail

Besides the client-resident email programs, there's also Web mail. Web mail gives you the ability to send and receive email from a Web site location on the Internet or local network. Many ISPs, such as AOL, MSN, Hotmail, Yahoo!, Hushmail, and United Online, offer Web mail applications. Web mail is a terrific alternative when you need to check your mail from another computer besides your own. Some services are fee-based, and others are free.

America Online

AOL is a unique service. It offers Internet browsing access, email, chat, shopping, and news, among other features—for a monthly fee. Pick up one of the diskettes for AOL that are almost everywhere and get a chunk of time for free (there are various offers). AOL offers email with its service. You get up to seven email accounts/screen names (the same thing). AOL mail keeps the mail stored on its servers and you always read from its system, not yours. The mail is not downloaded to your machine.

For more information, go to http://www.aol.com.

Yahoo! Mail

Yahoo! Mail can be also accessed from anywhere. Like AOL, the mail is saved on the company servers, so that you can view your mail and save it from any computer. Yahoo! email can also be automatically forwarded to other email accounts with its External Mail feature. You can configure Yahoo! Mail to retrieve messages from most external mail accounts (as long as they have POP access). Yahoo! has both a free and a fee-based email service for domestic and international users. The free service offers 4 MB of storage and up to 100 MB if you become a "power user" for a fee. It has a fairly good spam-blocking feature, SpamGuard. It is designed to reduce the amount of spam that ends up in your mailbox by sending it to a Bulk Mail Folder that you can delete without even viewing the contents. For spam that makes it into your regular email account, you have the option of reporting (instead of just deleting) it, further refining the spam-blocking capabilities. Rocketmail, which used to be a separate service, is now part of Yahoo! Mail.

For more information, go to http://www.yahoo.com.

MSN Hotmail

Hotmail is one of the oldest and still the most popular of the free email services (now part of the Microsoft empire). It is easy to use, with a host of features that have become standard, along with a few features that are still unique. The downside is that it offers only 2 MB of storage space, which is exceptionally low. There are so many MSN/Hotmail users that it is difficult to get a good email address without at least four digits in your user name.

For more information, go to http://www.hotmail.com.

Eudora Webmail

Eudora Webmail is a free email service provided by Lycos. It offers 5 MB of storage, three-level spam protection, and an email aggregation, so you can have all your email accounts funneled into one Eudora Webmail box.

For more information, go to http://www.eudoramail.com.


Hushmail is a secure Web-based email and document storage system. Hushmail uses industry standard algorithms (specified by the OpenPGP standard) to ensure the security, privacy, and authenticity of your email. Encryption and decryption are transparent to the user. The security features work only with another Hushmail account user but between users it offers a high level of privacy and security. The site points out that the information that we all routinely send and receive can be monitored, logged, analyzed, and stored by third parties. So for sensitive transmission—legal records, personal information, or medical records—with Hushmail you can send it securely. Not even a Hushmail employee with access to the servers can read your email.

Hushmail offers a free trial membership, but then you must upgrade to a premium service. Premium features include: up to 128 MB email and document storage, custom spam featuring the Human Authenticator, and the ability to send and receive large attachments, among other features.

For more information, go to http://www.hushmail.com.

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Last Update: November 17, 2020