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What are the Main Types of Email Account?

Feb 15, 2022

Whether it’s for networking, job hunting, communicating with friends and colleagues, buying things online, downloading files, setting reminders, or something else, most people today need an email account.

Even with the growing popularity of chat platforms, most people continue to depend on email for a wide range of things. When it comes to setting an email account up, there are two main types to choose from – email clients and webmail.

Types of Email Accounts – What are Email Clients?

Email clients are software applications that are installed on your device to manage the email that you send and receive. The client interacts with a remote email server to access this email. iCloud Mail and Microsoft Outlook are two examples of popular email clients that you have probably heard of.

Types of Mail Account – What is Webmail?

Webmail refers to a type of email that is accessed exclusively online and exists primarily on the cloud rather than on your device. Rather than an installed application or software program that fetches your email, you will manage your inbox from your internet provider. Some common examples include Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail.

Difference Between Email Clients and Webmail

Before getting into the different protocols that are used to download emails, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of the main differences between email clients and webmail. If you have ever started an online email account using Outlook.com or Gmail, for example, you have used webmail.

On the other hand, if you use an app for your emails like Microsoft Outlook or Windows Live Mail, this is an email client. Both email clients and webmail send and receive email using similar methods.

Webmail services are apps that have been written to be operated online through a browser with no additional software or applications needed. On the contrary, an email client is an app that will be installed on a local device such as your smartphone or PC.

This client app then interacts with remote email servers to download and send email.

What are the Different Types of Email Accounts?

If you have an email account for your business, you probably have one of the three main email account types which are POP, IMAP, and Microsoft Exchange.

Different Types of Mail Account – POP

POP stands for ‘Post Office Protocol’. It was developed many years ago so that email clients such as Outlook could download and send messages from various email services. Over the years, there have been many different versions of POP. POP3 is the most widely used.

A POP email account basically works by downloading email data to the first client to connect to it. This means that if you go on your iPad and open Outlook to download new emails using POP, your iPad is now the only place where they are stored.

They won’t show up if you access the same email address from another device like a smartphone or a desktop PC. This has advantages and disadvantages.

About POP3

Post Office Protocol offers a method of interacting with mail servers that date back to when the internet was quite different to what we are used to today. Back then, most computers didn’t have permanent internet access – instead, users would connect to the internet, use it for whatever they needed to do, and then disconnect.

POP was created by engineers as a simple and effective way to download emails to read offline. The first version was developed back in 1984, and it was revised, and POP2 was developed in 1985.

POP3 came later and is still the current version of this email protocol style. It still remains one of the most popular email protocols.

Different Types of Email Accounts – IMAP

After POP had been used for some time, IMAP or Internet Message Access Protocol was created. Unlike a POP email account, IMAP email accounts continue connecting to the mail server.

This means that if you open an email client on your laptop computer and download a new email, that email will also be downloaded on your other devices, such as your smartphone.

If you access your emails on your iPad, for example, and read a new message, it will continue to show as read when you next access your emails from your desktop PC. However, while IMAP is a better option for syncing, it does take up more processing power and can be more error-prone.

Benefits of Using IMAP

There are several benefits of using an IMAP email account, including:

Backup: You will always be able to access your emails on another device if your main device is lost, broken, or stolen, and you can no longer access your mail from it.

Ease of Access: Setting up and using an email address through an IMAP mail account does not require licensing.

Remote Access: Messages remain on the server until you delete them from it, meaning that you do not need to download any mail to your device to view it. Attachments that you do not need to use do not have to be downloaded.

Multiple Device Support: Today, IMAP email accounts are widely supported by most available devices allowing you to easily check your email from PC computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and more.

Flexibility: You can easily switch between email clients, webmail, and different devices without losing any messages or having to download them.

Organisation: IMAP email accounts allow you to easily organise the inbox according to your needs, including adding folders, sorting messages, marking messages, and more. They also include search features that allow you to find any necessary messages.

Microsoft Exchange

This type of email account is the most advanced and was designed for modern businesses, although many individual users also take advantage of it. The Exchange protocol was developed to allow email users to sync not just emails but also calendars, contacts, and more between email clients and services.

What are the Different Email Account Types – Other Options?

There are other protocols for sending, receiving, and using email services. However, most people use POP3, IMAP, or Exchange, which are the three major protocols used today.

Which To Use When Setting Up an Email Account?

Choosing the right email protocol might be something that you need to consider when setting up a new email account. The good news is that it can be fairly easy to narrow down which might be the best choice for you, depending on your style of communicating with your email provider.

IMAP is the best choice if you check your email from various different devices, including computers, smartphones, and tablets, or use a webmail service. If you mostly use webmail and want this to be synced to your phone or tablet, IMAP is the best way to achieve this.

IMAP is also recommended if you are using one email client on a dedicated machine, although POP3 will also work in this situation.

If you have a huge email history and use an older mail provider without a lot of drive space on offer, POP3 might be the best choice to help prevent you from running out of space on the email server.

On the other hand, if you have a company email address and your workplace uses an Exchange server, then Exchange will be your only option. The exchange might also be an ideal choice if you want your email to sync up with your calendar, contacts, and more.

However, these accounts typically cost more than other types of email addresses and setting it up and maintaining them can be quite technical.

Office 365 Mailbox Types

Along with the different email protocols, you may also be able to choose from different mailbox types using services such as Office 365. These include:

Licensed Mailbox

A licensed mailbox is designed for personal mail and requires a login. This can either be in the Outlook Web Application or Outlook’s desktop version.

Distribution Groups

Mail that is sent through free distribution groups will be delivered as individual mail items to each destination. Individual group members receive an email in their personal mailbox and can reply from their email address. Similar to mailboxes, you can also set aliases for groups.

Equipment Mailbox

Also known as room mailboxes, equipment mailboxes are free mailboxes for the purpose of reserving and coordination equipment and rooms.

Shared Mailboxes

Shared mailboxes are free up to 10GB of storage and are designed to make it simpler for a group to monitor and send emails from a public email address, such as a business’ customer service email address.

When a person in the group replies to a message that is sent to the shared mailbox, the email will appear to come from the shared mailbox rather than the individual user. The shared mailbox can also be used as a shared team calendar.

No matter what you use an email address for, it’s important to understand the different types of email accounts to choose the right one for you.

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