I see many clients who have a free email account with Google, Yahoo, AOL, or their broadband provider, and who manage their email online, using their web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, etc.). But with everyone sending and receiving attachments, and for people having multiple mail accounts, using the email software on their computer may make a lot more sense.
Webmail is convenient in the sense that you can log on from any computer via a web browser. Your stuff is always there to access as long as you can get online. You have your addresses and your old mail when you need it. But you give up some great email features in the process.
Speed: Using any application that is web-based (hosted on a web server and accessed from your computer via a web browser) is limited by the speed of the connection. You send a command out to the web to show you your email and then it has to post it to the display. It’s just not as fast as having the email sitting on your hard drive. where you can zip through them much more quickly.
Functionality: Browser-based webmail has become much more feature rich, but it doesn’t match an email application on your computer. Viewing options and connectivity with other applications on your computer aren’t as seamless. Saving image files to your hard drive becomes a 2 step process instead of saving directly to your photo program. The reverse holds true as well. Many applications allow you to email a document or photo with a single command instead of saving out the file somewhere and attaching it as a separate step.
Portability: Sooner or later you will probably want to change your email address only to be faced with the task of migrating all your saved emails and contact lists to another online service or your computer. Unfortunately, although it’s pretty easy to upload your contacts to a web service, getting them back can be a real challenge. AOL is particularly tough in this respect.
On the other hand, using the email application on your computer gives you control of the data. Your master contact list can be accessed from all your applications to generate such things as letters, labels, and mailing lists. Email applications can handle multiple email accounts in one mail view. And the good news is that they can still sync with your webmail account to give you more convenience and functionality.