What is web-based email?

Email addresses are normally assigned by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), but it is also possible to obtain an email address through a website service. This is known as web-based email.

Web-based email allows users to verify email accounts on a variety of devices by logging into a website.

Most people are familiar with configuring their email clients to receive messages through their ISP. The client requests a POP (Post Office Protocol) server to receive mail and a SMTP (Standard Mail Transfer Protocol) server to send mail. However, most email clients can also be used to collect web-based email by configuring the client to connect to an IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) server. The IMAP server is part of the host package. That said, the most common way to access this email is using a browser.

Different email servers offer different account options.

Web-based email has its perks, especially for travelers. Email can be collected by simply visiting a website, denying the need for an email client, or logging on from home. Wherever there is a public terminal with internet access – from the library to a cafe, to the airport or hotel – you can check, send and receive email quickly and easily.

Another advantage of this type of email is that it provides an alternate address, allowing you to reserve your ISP address for personal use. If you’d like to subscribe to a newsletter, enter a sweepstakes, register for a website, participate in chats or send feedback to a website, a web-based email address is the perfect answer. It will keep non-personal mail on a server for you to check whenever you want, instead of filling up your private email inbox.

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Websites often share the information you provide to them, but providing a web email address means that junk email will go to this disposable account instead of your personal account. Later, if you lose interest in the connections associated with this address, you can close or abandon it (as the policy dictates) with no ramifications to your default email address. In short, this email address can help keep your ISP’s mailbox organized, while allowing you the flexibility to take advantage of Internet activities that require an address.

Most accounts come with a storage limit, usually higher than the average person needs. Photos, ringtones, MP3s or graphic files can be kept here, saving space on your home hard drive.

However, there are also some disadvantages to web-based email. Security and privacy are the biggest issues. Most sites will explicitly state in the privacy policy that there will be no expectation of privacy, even if it is stated in other sections of the policy that the site’s purpose is to protect privacy. Server security is also less certain, compared to an ISP where you pay a fee with a contractual promise to provide basic protections. Therefore, it is generally not advisable to use web-based email for any correspondence of a private nature or for services that will send you confidential information via email.

Many web-based email services are free, but often the price is paid in ads that clutter and slow down the interface. Other service providers include a small tagline attached to the end of every email they send. These services often offer premium accounts, for a fee, that do not include slogans or advertisements.

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People who own their own domains may also have web-based email, depending on the host package. These types of accounts usually come with POP and SMTP servers as well.

There are several free online tutorials that cover the basics of web-based email.

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