Types of email accounts

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This article tells you about the different types of email accounts available with examples and a brief description for each. Get to know more about your email account.

Classifying anything in the world is not that straightforward because there can be more than one criteria to do so. To categorise different email types, it is doubly difficult because there are innumerable criteria – storage space, access technology, free/paid, usability etc. Since this article is not a technical treatise but rather a guide for beginners, let me attempt to list the different types of email accounts based on how they can be acquired.

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Email is one of the most used features of the web. With this technology you can not only send text messages but also digital files such as images, audio, video etc. attached with the email message. There is little or no cost in sending an email and the best part – it’s almost instantaneous!

Web based email accounts

I’m sure all of you are aware of Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! Mail, right? All these services provide both web based free email accounts and paid versions of the same with extra features. In fact, many popular portals offer email services in addition to their core business. A case in point is Zapak.com which started off primarily as a gaming hub.

Web based email accounts can be accessed using a web browser (yes, the same program that you use for surf the web) via a graphical user interface (GUI) provided by the email service. You can compose, reply, send, forward and organize email using this GUI. Most companies allow you to change or modify this GUI that helps in personalizing or customizing your email account – read Gmail themes and Hotmail themes for details.

To gain access to your account, you use a web browser to visit the home page of the email service and enter your login details (username and password). All your email messages and address book (contact lists) are stored on web servers owned by the respective companies. You need an active internet connection to log on to your account and check your emails. For instance, the Hotmail sign in page is located at www.hotmail.com and to login at your Hotmail account you need to enter your full email address and your password.

You can also download email to your computer from these web based accounts using email protocols such as POP or IMAP.

Email accounts provided by the ISP

ISPs generally provide an email account for free with the internet connection. If you didn’t get one from your ISP, you should seriously consider shifting to another provider. Anyway, the main advantage of using an email account provided by the ISP is the support you receive – you can either call the ISP or refer the extended documentation (usually) provided in their manual. ISPs know that many users would be new to the web and so have helpful and patient staff to help troubleshoot problems. This is in direct contrast to web based email service providers such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! Mail where, unless you take the paid version, the support is sadly missing. However, there is one major drawback in having your ISP account as your primary email address for online correspondence. If you change your service provider or shift to a new location where your old ISP has no service, you might lose the email address; else you have to keep paying for it.

ISPs also provide a web based GUI for you to access your email account via a web browser. Additionally, you can use an email client or email program to download the emails directly to your computer and read them without an active internet connection. There are several popular email programs, most of them for free, and you probably already have one on your computer – refer the article on downloading email on Windows to know more.

Web site email accounts

Do you own a web site? Depending on your hosting package, you can create email accounts on the web site for yourself or your staff. Most web hosting companies let you access emails through a web based interface or download the messages using email programs such as Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, Apple Mail etc. For more information, please check with your web hosting company or the people who developed your web site.

Email accounts from institutions, schools, colleges etc.

You can even get a email account from your institution or school. You, typically, need to contact the IT department and the process may be lengthy, requiring you to fill a few forms, or your email address will be created by default the day you become part of the organization. I would not suggest using this email account as your primary online address. It’s good for internal purposes and that’s it! Why? Because you would have to let go of it once you leave the institution or the school.

Email account from your company

If you work in a medium-sized or a large company they would probably have their own email servers. Generally, you get your own email address a few days after joining the company. This would be your business email ID and I advise you to keep personal correspondence away from it (especially messages from head hunters ;-). Company email addresses have many strings attached so be wary of how and what you use it for.

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