The question whether desktop email clients are better than webmail is rather similar to the undying riddle of the hen and the egg. Which one is older? The answers are well comparable, too, given that both the pro and contra arguments have plausible explanations, albeit no definite conclusion can be summed up.
Unlike with the hen and the egg, however, the latter question at least presents palpable parameters for argumentation. And while the choice of the type of email client ultimately comes down to personal preference, some benefits of the “rivals” are still obvious for everyone to see.
Advantages of Desktop Email Clients
Desktop email clients are the best choice for people who use multiple addresses with different domains and opt to respond from each one rather than form a single address. Desktop email clients allow for that by collecting all incoming messages in one place.
Further out, desktop email clients are tremendously convenient for those who desire to access their inbox offline. Arguably, the feat just might be desktop email clients’ greatest benefit. Once accessed, a message will remain forever available offline. The best desktop email clients also offer easy scheduling, allowing users to compose replies (some via templates) offline and automatically send them when the device is back online.
One easily overlooked advantage of desktop email clients is that they aren’t affected by limited storages. All messages can be easily backed up, and not only messages. Numerous desktop clients offer the same benefit for addresses, folders and contacts.
Security comes next (or perhaps first, depending on the person you ask). What desktop email clients truly excel at is encryption. That is not to say that webmail doesn’t offer any; it is just that its desktop big brother does it better, many times over. For one thing, encrypting webmail entails using third party services, add-ons or both. In addition, users who employ public key infrastructure and digital signatures will also discover that desktop email clients offer enhanced security in that regard.
Templates and integration are one huge benefit of desktop email clients. Remember the part about composing messages while offline and sending them later on? Unlike webmail, desktop email clients make certain that what has been written remains — written. It is easy to see how templates may come in handy with this functionality. People who make use of email rules and advanced filtering will find that desktop clients are far more convenient than webmail.
Last but not least, integration plays an immensely important role when it comes to the popularity of desktop email clients. Most of them seamlessly integrate with popular services such as Dropbox and Cloudapp, as well as with calendars. A quick example: you can choose to store your attachments in your Dropbox account rather than attach it to the actual message. The recipient will get the download link, and both of your storage limits will be happier for it.
Is webmail no good, then? We wouldn’t exactly word it that way. Webmail offers great benefits for people who don’t belong to any of the above mentioned categories. For one thing, it presents users with a unified inbox rather than multiple ones, which makes an easy job of forwarding.
Further out, desktop email clients offer integration only to a degree. If the feat is more important to you than other benefits the service offers, it’s best to opt for webmail. The latter provides a seamless integration with plug-ins and web services, notably Google Calendar and Tasks.
The Hen or the Egg?
The question “which should I choose: webmail or a desktop email client” is one of the most commonly uttered ones. After all, email serves so many purposes nowadays that choosing an optimum client may easily make all the difference in the world. All the more woe for email marketers, who are notorious for making considerable ROI off hitting people’s inboxes.
As is the case with everything else in life, there is not just one right answer. Both types of services have their notable benefits, as well as downsides; many users choose to use both, depending on the occasion. Still, the thing to keep in mind here is that desktop clients are getting better and more feature-rich by the minute. Take only Thunderbird and Postbox as an example. Both services boast advanced flagging and extended priority features using multiple add-ons such as QuickFolders and QuickFilters.
Lastly, a distinction is in place here. Many people tend to confuse desktop email clients with MS Outlook, which is neither the best nor the most popular choice. A slew of free desktop clients are available for free download, while also getting more features regularly, mirroring users’ feedback. Among the most popular choices are Mozilla Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail, Opera Mail, Zimbra Desktop and eM Client.
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