The question why I'm still using an email client came up recently in an article about adding Gmail properly to a software email client. That's actually a pretty good question; Online email services have evolved in the last years. They provide so much storage space that most users would never be able to fill that space in their entire life. They have introduced features and filters to make the email client more secure but still lack a few that are essential for some users.
When we look at the requirements we see the following. An online email service requires an online connection which might not always be a given, either because of the location of the user or a problem with it. It might also be that the email service itself is down and not offering services. All those cases would mean that it would be impossible to read or send emails.
A local client does not have these restrictions as it stores all emails locally which ensures access even without Internet connection. It requires on the other hand that one (or the few) computer(s) to work with.
I think it's pretty much a matter of personal taste. I prefer to have personal data close to me, as silly as it may sound. If something unforeseen happens I can still access my data provided I took care of creating backups and stuff like that.
If the online provider decides to shut down, gets hacked, or god beware, ban you, you may lose access to all of your emails and contacts if you have not created regular backups.
You may also be able to use additional tools and programs in combination with your email client which you may not be able to use when you are using web mail.
Security is another aspect that may be worth investigating. Many email service providers like Yahoo or Google use the email account as verification for various services on other parts of their sites.
Google users can use Google Analytics, Adsense, Adwords, Google Talk and several other services all with that one account. This increases the chance of losing the account due to an attack. Could be phishing, could be an exploit that makes use of the fact that you can be still logged into your Google account even if you closed the mail application.
Just look at the top right of a Google search form. Do you see your email address listed there? If yes you are still logged in. Attackers have way more possibilities to attack the online accounts than local ones.
It's on the other hand very convenient to use online accounts. Being able to log in from anywhere is a huge selling point. The question is if this feature is needed by many users. I for one use only my main computer and my laptop to check emails. If the need would arise for an online account I would still want to have all my mail on my own computer even if I would use an online service from time to time.
Which leads to the question: What about you? Are you using email clients or online email services? Let me know.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.