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The Basics of Email

We used to send a letter by postal mail, and we're required to have the sender's name and address, the letter inside the envelope, and the recipient's name and address where the postal service can deliver. Electronic mail (or Email) has the same requirements with the added benefit of delivering it instantly. The FROM name and address are not required (or forged), but this is needed to bounce back if the recipient cannot be found. The MESSAGE can have text, attachments, or even left blank just like the postal mail. The TO address must be globally unique for a mailman to deliver the mail to the correct person. The SUBJET is a bonus only available on an email where you can glance, and organize it for immediate or later read.

In today's busy world, we often utilize email to exchange messages between parties, and it has become one of the important communication tools used within the workplace. It is hard to find anyone without a single email address in the developed countries, and more often than not we have more than 1 email address: one for business and multiple for personal use. We often use email to keep a record of our conversations for later viewing or keep it as evidence of our communication with someone. However, this often fails because we send and receive so many emails daily.

Email is one of the very first services provided by the Internet dating back to 1971. It is the best attempt service and does not guarantee delivery much like the postal mail. As long as the recipient's email address is valid, and the mail servers providing services to both sender and receiver are functional, there is a good chance the email will be delivered to the recipient. There are, however, many reasons why the delivery of email may fail to arrive at the recipient's inbox.

Email Advantages

Email plays important role in our daily lives, and we simply cannot live with it. The following are the benefits we get out of using emails.

  • Productive Tool: Email is one of the most popular communication tools used today and integrates well with the Address Book, Calendar, and Task managers to manage our daily tasks.
  • Identifier: In traditional systems, we often used a username to identify ourselves, but email address replaces username in most systems including Facebook, Amazon, and Google.
  • Instant: As compared to the postal mail, the delivery of email is almost instant. Depending on the mail server's load, you may notice a couple of minutes of delay, but most mail servers deliver your email instantly within a few seconds.
  • Reproducible: You may send an email to a single person, or multiple persons without restrictions. You can also forward an email to another person with a click of a button. You may reproduce the same email as often as you can and wherever you are as long as you have access to the Internet.
  • Not Disruptive: Unlike a telephone or instant messenger, you do not have to respond to the email instantly. You can read your email at your convenient time, and respond whenever you're available.

Email Disadvantages

Although there are so many benefits of using email, there are also disadvantages.

  • Not guaranteed: Email is the best attempt service and does not guarantee delivery although most emails will be delivered. There are times when the sender's mail server, recipient's mail server, or DNS has issues; email may not be delivered. Most mail servers make multiple attempts at delivery before bouncing back to the sender. This often occurs when the domain name expires or has an issue with DNS.
  • Junk Email: Anyone with your email address can send you an email without your permission. There are too many commercial emails with advertisements and unwanted emails arriving in your inbox. Many mail service providers implement various filters to allow you to control your emails, and if used properly can manage your email efficiently.
  • Difficult to Organize: We often use emails to keep track of our tasks and refer them back when needed, but due to the overwhelming number of emails we receive, it's difficult to use email as a record keeper. There are tools available to search your email for a particular phrase, but email is not a medium to keeping track of your tasks or schedules.
  • Phishing: Anyone can forge their FROM address and pretend to be another person, and email is often used for scamming and phishing purposes. We have the trace email tool available to trace an email to verify the source of an email to the one who claims to be. Also, you may view email header to identify if an email if from the reputable source.

Email Clients

The software you use to manage emails is called "Email Client", and popular applications like Outlook, Thunderbird, and Gmail are most often used. Email clients connect to the mail server where your email is hosted, retrieve them, and also allow you to send a new email. The protocols used to retrieve email are POP3 and IMAP, and to send SMTP is often used. All those mail protocols are the services provided within the TCP/IP, the building block of the Internet. Some email providers offer you a webmail client, and you can just use the web browser to login into your email account and manage your emails.


Email is an important productivity tool we use daily, and we often have multiple email addresses. With the advent of other Internet services like Instant Messengers, Schedulers, and Task Managers; some of the activities we used to do with email can be offloaded to those applications. Understanding the pros and cons of using emails, and know other productivity tools will help organize our daily tasks better.

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