The debate is an old one: Are Web-based e-mail services such as Gmail the best choice? Or do wise computer users go with desktop e-mail clients such as Sparrow or Postbox? Just as with many other long-running technology debates, this one has no definitive answer. As a recent Lifehacker story indicates, different e-mail systems are better for different users. Therefore if you’re deciding whether to set up a desktop e-mail client on your computer or rely on the cloud and a Web-based e-mail provider, your first step is simple: You need to figure out what sort of computer user you are.
When desktop makes sense
How do you know if you’re a good fit for a desktop e-mail system? Lifehacker provides this checklist: First, you deal with a number of different e-mail accounts with different domains. Secondly, you often need to access your e-mail messages even when you’re not online. Third, you use advanced filtering, filtering your e-mail messages and assigning them to folders depending on the sender, subject header and certain keywords. Finally, you’re an e-mail security buff, using security measures such as digital signing and encryption when sending and receiving e-mail.
When Web-based makes sense
Lifehacker recommends that you use Web-based e-mail if you prefer a single unified inbox for all your e-mail messages and you have only a few e-mail addresses to track. Web-based e-mail might also be the better choice if you like using Web-based programs instead of downloading them to your computer and if you’re more comfortable storing your e-mail messages in the cloud instead of on your computer.
The best news of all
Here is the best news of all: Whether you go with a desktop e-mail client or simply a Web-based service, take comfort in the knowledge that you have lots of outstanding choices to help you manage and organize your e-mail messages. Desktop services like Sparrow and Postbox give you a wide range of organizing features. On the Web, the tried-and-true Gmail continues to be one of the strongest e-mail clients, whether desktop or Web-based, available for people who use computers.