Web based email is very common these days but it’s not the best way to handle your email. At worse, webmail can leave you stranded and out-of-touch.
A lot of people now use webmail as the only way to access email on their computer, not realising, until it’s too late, that there’s a better way.
We often see folks on an airplane trying to use webmail and complaining it’s too slow. Or shared wifi in cafes or airports. At the extremes there are people who get caught with slow Internet access like in Tonga which lost its submarine cable and are limited to a shared satellite connection. Extreme weather events can slow or disconnect the Internet even in the most developed locations.
For these situations and many more, webmail is not the best option.
Webmail vs email program
Don’t know the difference between webmail (email in a browser) and email programs like Outlook? It’s an important difference. See here …
A few recent cases of Internet trouble and emails from readers have highlighted the downside of using a web browser page to view and send emails.
Webmail is great if you have fast and 100% reliable Internet otherwise it can be a problem.
See also: The many faces of Microsoft Outlook
Email Setup Shortcut
It seems many computer help desks take the easy way with customers. They setup webmail in a browser and tell customers ” Here’s your email! ” it looks great and it’s quick for the IT service.
But it’s not always the best solution for the paying customers. The downsides only become apparent later, when things go awry.
Why webmail is different and why it matters
Webmail needs a direct and consistent Internet connection. Lose your Internet and webmail doesn’t work.
Even a slow connection is a problem for webmail. Each time you select another email to view, webmail must use the Internet to get a copy of that message. On a slow Internet it takes time to just view a new message.
We’ve seen many people complaining that their ’email is slow’ when there’s a simple solution … use a proper email program instead.
There’s nothing wrong with webmail, it has a place. Especially good as a temporary or fallback way to see your email.
Email programs or apps are better
Email programs or apps are better because they don’t need a constant Internet connection to work and they’re usually faster than webmail.
Programs like Outlook take a copy of your online mail / calendar / contacts and save them on your computer / device. Viewing and searching messages is much faster because the information is already on the device and there’s no need for the Internet.
These programs send/receive messages when there’s an Internet connection. With no or slow Internet, the programs just wait until the link returns.
While offline you can write and reply to emails, update calendar and contacts. Any changes are sent to the Internet when there’s a connection.
False: Email doesn’t work if there’s no Internet
The popular use of webmail means there’s a false notion that “email doesn’t work if there’s no internet”. That’s quite wrong.
Using an email program like Outlook for Windows/Mac lets you work on your messages etc anytime without needing a good Internet connection.
As an extreme example, our head-honcho Peter Deegan once wrote over 70 emails with no Internet using Outlook on a long plane flight. After the flight he connected his laptop to the Internet and Outlook sent out all the emails automatically.
What to do?
If you’re exclusively using a web browser for your email, setup an email program instead.
If you’ve got Office 365 or the higher Office 2019/2016 etc bundles then you’ll have Microsoft Outlook already.
Microsoft Outlook for Windows or Mac will connect to any mail host including non-Microsoft ones like Gmail or Yahoo Mail. The setup will take you through the steps. These days Outlook gets your email address and password then figures out the technical details for you. If necessary, your mail host should have the specific settings for connection to Outlook.