Understanding Emails and how to use them on multiple devices.

A large part of my work involves troubleshooting email issues, and with Telstra’s email server change over in recent months, I thought it timely to explain a little about how email works.

I find many people nowadays have at least two email addresses, one is usually from the internet service provider (ISP) they use like Bigpond, Optusnet, Westnet, or IiNet, another is a free account from one of the large web companies, like Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo.

There are two ways to check your email; one is through a web browser, where you log into your email account online and check and send your emails, this is called Webmail. The second is where you use an email client program like Outlook or Thunderbird on a computer or a Mail or Email app on your tablet or mobile phone.

These email clients are set up with specific server settings so they can connect securely to the email server online. They then communicate between the device and the email server generally using a POP or IMAP protocol.

POP (Post Office Protocol) creates local copies of emails on each device you use, much like Popping a copy on each device. The advantage is that you get an email copy on each of your devices, the downside is that you have to deal with the same copy on each of your devices.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is a service that keeps the message on the server and synchronises your Mail Client with the server on regular intervals. This is quite popular, because if you have read an email on one device and deleted it, when you check your email on another device it won’t be there so you don’t have to delete it a second time.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is the protocol used for sending your email outbound.

These days your Webmail account not only houses your emails but they also may house your Contacts, Calendar, Reminders and photos utilising the Cloud, which then synchronises across all your devices.

If you find you are having email issues;

  1. Determine if you are using Webmail or a Mail client
  2. If you are using a Mail client, then see if you are using POP or IMAP
  3. Go online to your service provider and see your email settings match theirs.

Email service providers are constantly tweaking their email settings to offer more security or provide a more convenient service, but on many occasions, it results in your mail client no longer connecting to their server. If you find you are still having issues, you may need to call your service provider to troubleshoot over the phone. If you are using an email from one of these large Webmail companies, they generally don’t have phone support, so it may be best to call your local computer technician.

I hope this provides you some information that give you a place to start.


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