Emails: where do they live and how do they work?
Emails can be tricky business, especially if youre changing location or provider. Or perhaps you’re now looking at getting your emails working across multiple providers? Here’s how your emails work, and what they can do (read my article on servers and the cloud to get a bit more context on some of these terms).
This is the most common type of email. This kind of email works like a post office box. You go to the post office, and you collect everything in the box, and bring it home with you.
It’s the same for your email. Each time a device connects to the email server, it takes out whatever is in the mailbox and downloads it to your computer. But if you want any other devices (e.g. your phone or tablet) to get the same email, you have to tell your device to put a copy back! Also, it won’t synchronise any changes. If you read or delete an email, that’s only your local copy. It won’t change it on anyone else’s device.
This is the other common type. This one does synchronise, but only emails! So if you read, move or delete an email, anyone else connected to this email will get the same change. This one is great if you want your emails on your computer and phone at the same time; its much more reliable, but needs a pretty constant internet connection to work well. Also, because all of your emails live on your server and not on your computer, its particularly important to do backups, and also be aware it might run slowly if you have years and years worth of emails.
This one only comes from Microsoft servers; so you need a local Exchange server or some form of Office 365 to do this. It synchronises everything. It will synchronise your email, mark whether you’ve replied or forwarded the message, synchronise your calendars, your contacts, etc. If you have multiple people sharing the same email address, or need to synchronise your calendars and contacts (particularly if you’re a business) this one is the best one for you.
POP and IMAP normally come with your webhosting. If you have a website, there’s a good chance you can already have these emails at little or no cost to you. ActiveSync capable emails cost a bit more per month, but deliver far more features.