Contrary to popular belief, pinpointing the optimum email client is actually a big deal. The offer may be rich, but the fact remains that email remains the single most important means of communication across the globe.
Which client may be the best choice depends on a number of factors, many of which are individual. The single most important guideline is to decide whether you’ll use the client for business, for private messaging or for both.
I.e., many freelancers (and freelancing has been on the rise for years) tend to stick to Gmail, due to it offering convenient forwarding and import options. That isn’t to say that other services don’t offer the same feature, but that old habits die hard. Neither should they be necessarily disregarded. Still, businesses often opt for paid email services, preferably customizable.
Choosing Between a Desktop Email Client and Webmail
This is probably the first conundrum everyone needs to solve. There is no unique answer, and sometimes people opt for both. In addition to the first glaring difference between the two, desktop clients are fully operational offline while webmail isn’t, which are common factors that users take into account with encryption, filtering, attachments and backup.
- Online or Offline?
Webmail may be portable, but the fact that it is rendered useless when internet connections are unavailable makes for its greatest flow. Truly, nowadays, there are not many situations of that kind, but still the con may be detrimental for business users.
Desktop email clients allow for re-reading and message composing even when the device is offline, but incoming messages still have to wait for a connection. The good thing is that desktop clients feature nifty scheduling and, more often than not, templates, which makes them convenient with or without the internet in the vicinity.
Desktop email clients feature better encryption than webmail, for a simple reason: they allow the user to control store keys and generation tools. For those looking for an email client to be used for business purposes, this advantage plays an important role.
- Filtering and Attachments
Generally speaking, most webmail clients offer generous attachment size limits and no less generous storage space. What they do not offer, unlike desktop email clients, is the option to store attachments elsewhere. In case of webmail, files are attached directly to the message, whereas desktop email client users may upload them to external services (i.e., Dropbox), providing the recipient with a download link. The practice translates into unlimited storage space.
Filtering, the feature that has become invaluable in the wake of aggressive email marketing (the cheapest form of advertising, by far), is offered by both webmail and desktop email clients, but the latter are still better at handling unnecessary messages. The range of options they offer includes categories, filters, folders and flags.
- Backing Up Emails
Everyone knows how important backups of pretty much everything can be. When it comes to email, this choice comes down to personal preference. Namely, with most clients offering archiving and folders, not all users choose to bother with regular message backups. Not so for businesses, though. Similarly to attachments, backups are also somewhat easier handled by desktop email clients.
Free Vs Paid Email Clients
There are a slew of free email services readily available across the globe. This holds true for both webmail and desktop clients, with most popular choices being household names. Seriously, is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Outlook, Yahoo! or Gmail?
Outlook has been continuously voted the best desktop email client, and Gmail the most widely used one. Where does this discrepancy stem from? Actually, from the simple fact that the first is a paid service and the second is free.
Truth be told, only MS Outlook desktop client doesn’t come free of charge. The service’s less known variant, Outlook.com, serves as webmail, replacing the long-since outdated Hotmail. Outlook comes with a 15 GB of storage space for non-subscribers. Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal users get 50 GB of storage space.
Outlook is a popular choice mainly because it integrates with cloud and Microsoft software, and because it can be used with a range of services, such as are, e.g., Skype and PayPal. It also allows for attaching files directly from Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive (up to 50 MB).
Gmail is often labeled the best webmail. The service has been around for quite a while, is free to use, offers a range of features that make users’ lives easier, and keeps adding new features on a regular basis. Gmail comes with a 15 GB of storage space and allows for attaching files up to 25 MB per message.
Yahoo! is one of the longest-standing email services out there, successfully keeping up with the rapid developments dictated by industry giants like Google and Microsoft. The fact that it offers some unique features despite the fierce competition speaks volumes about its credibility.
As for other choices, there are many indeed. As is the case with all in-demand services, email clients constantly strive to improve their features and eliminate the downsides. The final choice is, as always, up to the user. Paid or free, offline or online, incoming messages must keep rolling!