Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

ICT

Email

Page:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  1. Next

Electronic mail or email is a means of sending messages, text, and computer files between computers via the Internet.

Email and webmail

There are two main types of email, client-based email and webmail. Client-based email is often used by business users and involves the email being downloaded [download: the transfer of a file or files from one computer connected to the Internet to another ] from a server [server: a computer that provides services to users, eg access to shared files, web hosting, file storage ] to an application [application: applications serve a specific purpose, eg Microsoft Word is used for word processing ] (such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird) on the user’s computer. Webmail is accessed through a web browser [web browser: an application used to browse the Internet or view web pages ] and can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection [Internet connection: a computer's or another internet-enabled device's connection to the Internet ].

Client-based email

Microsoft Outlook, inbox is selected, email in inbox from Michael Smith starting 'Finally... you've got an email address!'

Client-based email requires software, eg Outlook

To set up this type of email you need:

  • a computer
  • an Internet connection
  • an account with an ISP (Internet Service Provider)
  • an email application [application: applications serve a specific purpose, eg Microsoft Word is used for word processing ], eg Outlook, Thunderbird or Entourage

Your Internet Service Provider will give you an email account, a password and a mailbox [mailbox: where all email sent to and from the associated email address is stored ] such as yourname@hostname.co.uk.

With a dial-up [dial-up: a method of connecting to the Internet that involves 'dialling up' as if making a phone call ] connection you have to pay the cost of your Internet phone calls (local rate) and in most cases a subscription to your provider (though some are free). Dial-up users can download their emails and read them offline to keep costs down.

A broadband [broadband: high speed Internet access ] connection is 'always on' with a flat-rate subscription. Very few people pay by the minute nowadays and the majority of people pay a monthly fee for broadband access.

Anti-virus [anti-virus: anti-virus software scans all forms of storage devices for viruses and, if found, attempts to remove them ] scanning is becoming standard on email accounts and many email providers now offer a spam (electronic junk mail) filtering [spam filtering: unsolicited (junk) email is caught by a spam filter ] service.

Webmail

Webmail, as its name suggests, is web-based email. To use webmail you do not need any email software - just a computer connected to the Internet and a browser. Webmail accounts are usually free.

Google mail inbox

Email accessed from within a web browser, ie webmail

Users simply sign up to a webmail service such as Googlemail, Hotmail or Yahoo. They are then given a unique user name, password and a personal mailbox [mailbox: where all email sent to and from the associated email address is stored ]. The mailbox is accessed by visiting a specific web address and logging in. Once logged in, users can send and receive messages.

The advantage of webmail is that users can receive and send email from any computer in the world with Internet access and a browser.

Some ISPs [Internet Service Provider (ISP): Internet Service Provider - needed in order to access the Internet, they also provide services such as web space and email ] will enable their customers to access their mailbox via webmail as well as through the email software on their PC.

Page:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  1. Next

Back to Networks and communications index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.