There are two primary ways of checking your e-mail – using an e-mail program like Microsoft Outlook or with a Web-based interface called webmail. When you check or send e-mail via the Web, you are using webmail. Most free e-mail services, such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail offer webmail interfaces that allow you to send, receive, and organize your e-mail on the Web. If you own a domain name, many Web hosts also offer a webmail interface to use with your domain name or website. Some common webmail systems supported by Web hosts include Horde, NeoMail, and SquirrelMail.
Because webmail is run from a server, the messages downloaded to your inbox are saved on the mail server. This is convenient since you can check your mail and browse old messages from any computer as long as you have an Internet connection. The downside is that, since the messages are not downloaded to your computer, you need an Internet connection to view your messages – even ones that you have already viewed.
If you only have one e-mail account, webmail may be the simplest way to check, send, and manage your e-mail. However, if you regularly use multiple e-mail accounts, a software e-mail client like Microsoft Outlook or Mac OS X Mail may be a better choice.
Updated: August 7, 2007