Web Mail vs. Email Client: Which is Better?

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Whether you are new to computers or a seasoned user, which type of email program to use can sometimes be confusing.

This post helps you understand the difference between an email client and web mail; It also explains how each type works.

What is an Email Client?

Email clients are stand-alone software programs that you use to help create and manage your emails.  You install an email client directly on to your computer.

Microsoft Outlook is known as an “email client”.  Outlook, like other email clients, have, a fatal flaw, in order to send, receive and manage your emails you have to be using the computer the program is installed on.

Listed below, is a short list of free and paid (must buy) email clients programs:


  • Atmail (Linux based)
  • Balsa (Linux based)
  • Eudora
  • Mozzila Thunderbird
  • Opera Mail
  • Outlook Express – Comes with all MS Windows Operating Systems


  • Apple Mail (Part of Mac OS X)
  • Lotus Notes
  • Microsoft Office Outlook
  • Novell GroupWise (old)

What is Web Mail?

Web Mail is an email program that works within a web browser. Web mail allows you to read and send emails using a browser such as Internet Explorer or FireFox. The two most popular web based email accounts are:

  • Google “GMail”
  • Yahoo! Mail

The biggest benefit of web mail is that since all your mail is stored on a server and not your computer, you can access your email anywhere you can find an Internet connection and a web browser.  This is because with web mail, your email it is stored on a email server and not a single computer.

The email server can belong to a company that offers web based email accounts, your ISP provider or your web hosting provider. How you “pick up” your email will depend on what type of email account you have.


  • Here is one thing you need to always remember, both web mail and email clients must use the internet to send and receive mail.  Basically you still need to have an Internet connection to send and receive new emails.
  • There are some other web mail programs, such as RoundCube Webmail and SquirrelMail, but these usually require you to have web-hosting service or to work directly with an Internet service Provider (ISP) to set up.
  • If you are only using web mail, then the emails that you don’t delete are stored on the email server. With an email client the emails are stored on your computer.

Which is better, an Email client or Web Mail?

This is not an easy answer, because they both have there advantages and disadvantages.  This usually comes down to a matter of preference.  When the Internet and surfing the web first became popular and lacked confusion, you only had a handful of things to use and choose from, an example of this was email.

Early on, you only had a limited number of email programs to choose from.  For years, I only used Microsoft Outlook to view emails. I especially loved Outlook because of its feature-rich interface, especially the spell-check feature.

But as I began to build websites and started adding a new email address for each site, trying to manage the emails within Outlook, became a problem.  I later switched to Google “GMail” and was able to configure (set up) GMail in such a way that all my email is shown to me in one view.

Now I can sort of do this using Outlook, but it does not work quite as smoothly nor can I access my email when I’m away out of town like I can with GMail.

Related Videos

How to Send an Email Using Outlook

How to Send an Email Using Yahoo Mail

How to use Google G Mail

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