What is Web Based Email?

R. Kayne

Email addresses are commonly assigned by your Internet service provider (ISP), but one can also obtain an email address through a website service. This is known as web based email.

Web based email enables users to check email accounts from a variety of devices by logging into a website.
Web based email enables users to check email accounts from a variety of devices by logging into a website.

Most people are familiar with setting up their email clients to receive mail through their ISP. The client asks for a POP server (Post Office Protocol) in order to receive mail, and a SMTP server (Standard Mail Transfer Protocol) in order to send mail. However, most email clients can also be used to collect web based email by configuring the client to connect to an IMAP server (Internet Message Access Protocol). The IMAP server is part of the host's package. That said, the more common way to access this mail is by using a browser.

Different email servers offer varying account options.
Different email servers offer varying account options.

Web based email has its advantages, especially for people who travel. Email can be collected by simply visiting a website, negating the need for an email client, or to logon from home. Wherever a public terminal with Internet access exists — from the library to a café to the airport or hotel — one can check, send and receive email quickly and easily.

Another advantage of this type of email is that it provides an alternate address allowing you to reserve your ISP address for personal use. If you would like to subscribe to a newsletter, enter a drawing, register at a website, participate in chats, or send feedback to a site, a web based email address is the perfect answer. It will keep non-personal mail on a server for you to check when you wish, rather than filling up your private email box.

Websites often share information provided them, but giving them a web email address means that junk mail will go to this disposable account instead of your personal account. Later, if you lose interest in the connections associated with this address, you can close or abandon it (as policy dictates) without ramifications to your standard email address. In short, such an email address can help keep your ISP mailbox uncluttered while still allowing you the flexibility to take advantage of Internet activities that require an address.

Most accounts come with a storage limit, usually more than the average person needs. Pictures, ringtones, MP3s or graphic files can all be kept here, saving room on your hard drive at home.

There are also some drawbacks to web based email, however. Security and privacy are the biggest issues. Most sites will explicitly state in the privacy policy that no expectation of privacy shall exist, even if it is stated in other sections of the policy that a goal of the site is to protect privacy. Security of the server is also less certain, compared to an ISP to which you pay a fee with a contractual promise to provide basic protections. It is therefore unwise, generally speaking, to use web based email for any correspondence of a private nature, or to use it for services that will be emailing you sensitive information.

Many web based email services are free, but often the price tag is paid in advertisements that clutter and slow the interface. Other service providers include a small tagline attached to the end of each email sent. These services usually offer premium accounts, for a fee, that do not include taglines or advertisements.

People who have their own domains might also have web based email depending on the host's package. These types of accounts often come with POP and SMTP servers as well.

There are numerous free, online tutorials that cover the basics of web based email.
There are numerous free, online tutorials that cover the basics of web based email.

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Discussion Comments


Client requests are to the server POP (Post Office Protocol) to receive e-mail, and to the SMTP server (Standard Mail Transfer Protocol) to send mail. However, customers can also e-mail the most used messages to collect e-mail on the Internet by configuring the client to connect to the IMAP server.


I have numerous web based free email accounts. Two of my email accounts are reserved for junk. I check them once a month just to keep them active. I only use these accounts to sign up for thank you cards, when ordering items online, and to get free promotions. I also like to keep a number of accounts on hand because it allows me to run expensive software for a while before having to fork over the cash (what can I say...I'm cheap).

I have two personal email accounts (one for work and one for friends and family), one for bills and services that I subscribe to, and two school email accounts. My school email accounts are linked to my personal account, and my personal and work accounts are routed to my cell phone. I get the information I need when I need it. Free web-based email is a beautiful thing!


@ Ray- I would consider your scenario to be online web sales. In my opinion, if you are submitting an order through someone’s web based email account, you are buying something that may be open to negotiation.

I would consider an automated transaction to be online ordering. If you were able to click on a link for an item, add it to your shopping cart, choose shipping terms, pay for the item, and receive a receipt or instant invoice; I would call that online ordering. That would be a transaction that would not involve speaking or communicating with a person who may try to upsell you on another product.


I am very confused about the definition of "on-line ordering". If you go to a web-site to purchase something, and the web-site does not use the typical "click on the link" identifying the product, but instead, requires you to click on their e-mail address to place an order, is this considered "on-line ordering" or "on-line sales"?



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