Multiple methods of accessing your e-mail

Filed under: Computing Tips - May 22 2013

Most internet service providers provide more than one way to access your email: Webmail (web-based email) and POP/IMAP mail which is accessed via an email client/program. The main advantage of using an email program is that you can avoid the ads that are shown when viewing your email in a web browser. Below is a chart detailing the 2 different ways to access your e-mail, and some advantages and disadvantages to both.





Accessible via a web browser from any internet connected computer. Web browsers include Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or AOL’s desktop software.

Accessible with an email client/program such as Outlook/Outlook Express, Windows Mail/Live Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird.


Faster particularly if you use a slower internet connection, such as basic DSL. Viewing your messages using webmail is as fast as displaying any other web page within your browser.

Slower to retrieve since POP mail is downloaded and stored on your computer. IMAP mail synchronizes your mail between your computer and your email provider’s mail server. Large emails with attachments can take several minutes to download particularly on a slow internet connection.


Your mail is stored on your email provider’s computers.

If your email is setup as POP, email is downloaded to your computer then usually removed from your email provider’s computers (server). If it setup as IMAP, the same emails exist on both your computer and the server.

Use with multiple computers/devices

When you read, write or delete a message the message folders will be the same on each computer or web browser that you check your mail with.

If your email is setup as POP, your email program needs to be configured to keep the messages on the server after downloading them. This allows you to download your messages onto multiple computers/devices or be able to view all your messages with webmail. *

SPAM filtering software on your computer

Will not work with web mail.

Will work with most POP email client/programs.

Photo sharing software

Many programs will not work using web mail.

Many programs integrate easily with POP/IMAP email programs

Sending attachments to your e-mail

More complicated

Less complicated

* If you use POP mail, your internet service provider or Computer Techs can give you information on how to set-up your email program, and how to configure it to leave copies of your messages on their computer’s server.

Below is a list of common internet service providers and their webmail address. Note that you don’t need to enter in the “http://” prefix in the address bar of your browser – your browser should automatically fill it in the prefix for you after you enter the address.

AT&T/Yahoo – or
Charter/Spectrum –

Besides email provided by your internet service provider, there are many free email services. Yahoo is only accessible via a web browser with their free service. Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s (formerly “Hotmail”) are good alternatives, however all of the free services show advertisements next to your email messages.

If you are interested in reading more details about the different email protocols, see Wikipedia for more information about  webmail, POP email, or IMAP.

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