E-mail (Electronic Mail)

Subject: Computer Science

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This note helps to make clear about the concept of email an its different types. Electronic mail (email) is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more persons. Email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Many people sign up for internet services just so that they can send and receive e-mail messages. It is probably the most used feature of the web.
E-mail (Electronic Mail)


Commonly known as email or e-mail, electronic mail is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more persons. Email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Email is an electronic mail for sending, receiving and storing of our electronic messages. Email has gained popularity with the spread of the Internet. Today, email is the preferred method of communication.


Fig: E-mail


The email system is based on store and forward model in which email server computer system accepts, forwards, delivers and stores the messages on behalf of users to send and receive email messages. Email consists of two parts: the message header and the message body. The header contains the information like one or more sender's address, receiver's address, data, content, length, etc. whereas the body part contains the actual message which the sender has sent to the receiver.

It is one of the most frequently used features of the internet. Many people sign up for internet services so that they can send and receive e-mail messages. The internet is now the world’s largest electronic mail system. More than 30 million people are directly connected to the internet and can send and receive electronic mails.

Uses of Email:

  • Email enables individuals and groups to communicate with one another.
  • Group of people can work on the same topic through email and generate one common document together.
  • Through email, we can stay in touch with our family, relatives and friends who are away from us.
  • It is the convenient way of sending job application, sending valuable documents, important images and videos.
  • The use of email is essential in today's business culture for communication purpose. Businesses of all sizes, places and types can use email for multiple purposes effectively.
  • It is the most efficient and certain way to communicate with management, colleagues, clients and vendors.
  • Email is used when colleagues of the same or different departments need to send and receive information about projects.
  • Clients and vendors use email to order products and services
  • Employees can receive dates and times for meetings, conferences and mandatory training sessions via email.


  • Fast: It can relay our message to the recipient in a matter of minutes or seconds. Many systems also let us check to see if the receiver has seen our message or not.
  • Fun: International electronic mail system enables us to find ‘pen pals’ all over the world.
  • Easy: When we open our email box, we see a list of the message we have received. First, we read the message and then decide how to respond. We can reply to the message if we like or just delete if it requires no reply. We can save it or print it. We can even forward the message to the others.
  • Cheap: We can send messages to others through email around the world cheaply in comparison to the charge we are paying for telephone services.
  • Flexible: We can send a message to more than one person if we like.

  • Convenient: Because it’s written, we can compose and review our message before sending which helps in any inconvenience.
  • Word wide presence: We can check our emails from any computer in the world while on vacation in other countries or from transportation vehicles, etc.


  • Threat of viruses:Emails may carry viruses. These are small programs that harm your computer system. They can read out your email address book and send themselves to a number of people around the world.
  • Spam:Having to deal with spam and spoofs is one of the worst avoidable time wasters online. Use some anti spam software.

  • Misunderstandings:Emails from people who don’t take the time to read what they write before clicking ‘send’. Time is wasted, either to clarify or, worse, acting on a misinterpretation of the message.
  • No guarantee the mail will be read until the user logs on and checks their email.
  • Need of internet:The recipient needs access to the Internet to receive email.

(Shrestha & Khanal, 2013)


Email is probably the most used feature of the web. With this technology, we can not only send text messages but also digital files like images, audio, video, etc. attached to the email message. There are mainly 2 major email types: POP email and Web-based email.

1) POP email account

Fig: POP email account
Fig: POP email account

This type of email account requires a client application installed on the user's computers. The user has to get the service from the email service provider for free or by paying some amount. The user then gets user id and password along with the POP mail server configuration that is required to setup the email client. The popular email clients are Microsoft Outlook, Opera Mail etc. To send the mail, a user composes the mail using the email client and posts the mail to the email server. The email server then sends the mail to the destination address.

2) Web-based email account:


Web-based email accounts can be accessed using a web browser (yes, the same program that we use for surfing the web) from which we can compose, reply, send, forward and organize email.
To gain access to our account, we use a web browser to visit the home page of the email service and enter our login details. All of our messages and address book (contact list) are stored on web servers owned by the respective companies. We need an active internet connection to log on to our account and check our emails. For instance, the sign in page for Yahoo is located at www.yahoo.com and to log in at our Hotmail account, we need to enter our full email address and our password.

Advantages of Web-based email:

  • No need of third party software to view it. The simple web browser can access it.
  • Most of the webmail services are free on the web.
  • The email inbox can be accessed from all around the globe with an internet connection and computer.
  • It can be accessed from the different computer platform i.e. can be accessed through Window, Mac, Linux, etc.

Disadvantages of Web-based email:

  • Webmail is slow to access because every email should be accessed and downloaded from the server to view it.
  • Webmail does not have off-line messaging services. For that, we need an internet connection.
  • Webmail consists of a large number of advertisers and spam emails.
  • Size on the webmail server for one user account is limited. For large spaces, we need to buy spaces.

Some other sub-types of email accounts are:

1) Email accounts provided by the ISP:
ISPs generally provide an email account for free with the internet connection. If we don't get one from our ISP, we should seriously consider shifting to another provider. Anyway, the main advantage of using an email account provided by the ISP is the support we receive; we can either call the ISP or refer the extended documentation (usually) provided in their manual.

ISPs know that many users would be new to the web and so have a helpful and patient staff to help troubleshoot problems. This is in direct contrast to web-based email service providers such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! Mail where, unless we take the paid version, the support is sadly missing. However, there is one major drawback in having our ISP account as our primary email address for online correspondence. If we change our service provider or shift to a new location where our old ISP has no service, we might lose the email address; else we have to keep paying for it.

2) Website email accounts:
Do we own a website? Depending on our hosting package, we can create email accounts on the websites for ourselves or our staff. Most web hosting companies let us access emails through a web-based interface or download the messages using email programs such as Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, etc.

3) Email accounts from institutions, schools, colleges etc:
Our schools or institutions can also provide us with email accounts. Typically, we need to contact the IT department that provides the email id and password required for the email service .This type of email account is not recommended to be used as our primary email account. It's good for internal purposes in school and colleges because it helps in being updated about things going around in school. This email account is unusable once we leave the institution or the school.

4) Email account from our company:
If we work in a medium-sized or a large company, they would probably have their own email servers. Generally, we get our own email address a few days after joining the company. This would be our business email ID. It is better to keep this type of email account away from personal correspondence.

(Karn & Pudasaini, 2015)


Karn, M. K., & Pudasaini, D. (2015). Computer Science I. Anamnagar, Kathmandu: Buddha Publication.

Shrestha, P. R., & Khanal, R. (2013). Computer Essentials I. Putalisadak, Kathmandu: Asmita's Publication.

Things to remember
  • Email enables individuals and groups to communicate with one another.
  • POP email ad web-based email are two major e-mail types.
  • Advantages of email: fast, easy, cheap, flexible, convenient and world wide available.
  • Sub types of email: Email account provided by ISP, Website email account, Email account for institute, schools, colleges, etc and for company
  • It includes every relationship which established among the people.
  • There can be more than one community in a society. Community smaller than society.
  • It is a network of social relationships which cannot see or touched.
  • common interests and common objectives are not necessary for society.

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