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Webmail vs Email Clients

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  • Last Updated : 06 Jul, 2022
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Communication is an important part of human existence and as time has passed the need for communicating has increased. Initially, letters/mails were written to carry out communication between large distances but this mode of communication required a lot of time. Therefore, as time passed humans devised different methods to reduce the time gap in communication.


To understand the difference between Webmail and email client, we first need to get familiar with their proper definition but before that with mail. So a simple google search reveals that mail is nothing but “the system for collecting and sending letters and packages” meaning it is a form of communication. When we involve the internet in this system of communication it becomes E-mail or Electronic mail, simply because the transfer of information now takes place electronically.


Webmail is a more advanced technology that allows the user to manage emails without having to install fancy and huge software on their computer machine, they achieve this by hosting their service on the cloud. Webmail is provided by many companies and ISPs. Since they are hosted on the cloud they require an internet connection, also the emails cannot be downloaded or modified in the offline mode. This necessity for an internet connection constitutes the disadvantage of using webmail.

Email Clients

Also known as an email reader, Message User Agent (MUA) is a software program that proves to be a beneficial tool for the user to manage and access his/her emails, even if it is a hardware part with its main aim being email management then also it might be called as an email client. It works by communicating with a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) for the receipt and storage of the client’s email. The MTA loads the messages on the user storage via some Mail Delivery Agent (MDA). The emails have to be manually downloaded for them to be available on the user’s computer.

A user’s mailbox can be accessed in two ways:

  1. Post Office Protocol (POP): It is an early technology with a simple protocol allowing it to just download the messages from the inbox to the local computer. Here at a time, the emails can be accessed from one device only.
  2. Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP): allows the user to manage emails while they are on the server itself, also the emails can be accessed from multiple devices.

Now coming to the difference between Webmail and Email, it is mainly due to their working platform.



Email Client

Definition Webmail is a cloud-based service provided by certain companies and ISPs. Email client is a program(software) that allows users access to their emails on a desktop computer
Internet Requirements Webmail uses the web browser therefore we require an internet connection to access emails with regards to webmail. Emails in Email clients are available without an internet connection
Backup Webmail the emails are backed up by the email service provider as they are hosted on the cloud Emails on Email clients need to back up manually and in case of a desktop crash or system crash it might be hard or even impossible to back the emails up
Security In the case of webmail, the emails are automatically scanned for viruses by the service provider Emails in Email clients have access to the desktop they can infect the system with a virus or any other malicious activity can be performed as they have access to the system, requiring the latest antivirus software installation cost and configuration time



Webmail is hosted on the cloud so its memory requirements are taken care of by the service provider. Email clients are softwares that are installed on the computer therefore they consume memory space and configuration time
Ease of Access Webmail can be accessed from any public computer, however, this is not advised because this poses threat to the account security. Email client operates on a specific system which reduces the ease of access
Updates With webmail, you can literally update every second provided you have an internet connection. Email clients can consume a lot of time when it comes to updates

Distractions / 


Webmail because it is free is filled with advertisements resulting in increased screen time and decreased concentration span. Email clients don’t bother or irritate you with advertisements
Examples AOL Mail, Gmail, GMX Mail, Mailfence. Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird and IBM Lotus Notes

So which is better and what might be preferred?

Email client and webmail both have their own benefits and shortcomings and therefore it depends on an individual’s requirements as to what might suit him/her the best.

  • If a person has a job that requires a lot of travelling or staying in the outskirts that has poor to no internet connection then an Email client works like a saviour in this situation because emails on Email clients can be downloaded and accessed offline, and the choice of webmail will put forward a lot of hardship.
  • If a person prefers a life of exaggerated privacy or his job is prone to threats and attacks then obviously the choice of the Email client is much better as compared to Webmail.

Hence, as a conclusion, both have their own pros and cons but the lifestyle of a person might prefer one over the other, but in general scenario, webmail seems like a much better option because of ease of access, setup and time. 

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