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Ask The Pro: Which email client is best?

By Keith Klein | Ask the Pro

Jan 01

An email client is a program on your computer that can download email from an account, allowing the user to read, send and store emails. While some email service providers offer a web-based email program, as we do at www.onyourmark.com/email, an email client usually offers more robust features for email management. Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Calypso, Courier and Thunderbird are some of the most popular email clients on the market today. In this edition of Ask the Pro, we’ll look at the pros and cons of these email clients.

Outlook/Outlook Express– www.microsoft.com/outlook

Microsoft’s email clients, Outlook and Outlook Express, are included with all Windows installs. Outlook Express is a basic email client. The full version of Outlook includes the Outlook Express email client, along with contact management and calendar tools. Outlook interfaces with many applications, including advanced contact management software like ACT!. It also supports SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), the most popular protocol for transferring email on the Internet.

Outlook is often affected by many security flaws. Because Outlook is such a popular email program, many viruses are created to tamper with Outlook. Outlook does not have the ability to turn off HTML email, a format often used by spammers and hackers to transport malicious content. The user interface and email setup procedures change with every version, making upgrades to new versions more time consuming. These constant changes force tech support personnel to learn and troubleshoot many different versions of the same program. Outlook also causes problems for Systems Administrators when email backups are needed.

Eudora – www.eudora.com

Named after Eudora Welty, author of “Why I Live at the P.O.,” the Eudora email client has been available since 1990. It is available for download on the Eudora website. The “Light” mode of Eudora is the most basic version and includes the least amount of features. An upgrade to the “Sponsored” mode features ads but includes most features of the “Paid” mode. For $49.95, the “Paid” version includes spam filtering, tech support and 12 months of upgrades.

Eudora is a very stable and versatile email client. Backups and upgrades are easy to implement. The built-in spam filtering and the ability to turn off HTML viewing offer additional protection against virus invasion. Eudora allows users to enable personal filters, and also color-codes messages to make them easy to find. However, Eudora’s interface may be a bit confusing at first if a user is more familiar with Outlook.

Calypso– www.rosecitysoftware.com/calypso
Courier– www.rosecitysoftware.com/courier

Calypso is a free email client; Courier is the upgraded, paid version available for $29.95. Calypso/Courier mailboxes are contained in one file, making backups simple. Calypso/Courier offers a neat “locking” feature. Users can leave their email program running on their computer and “lock” the program with a password. If another user sits down at the computer, they cannot open the email program without knowing the password. The Calypso/Courier interface is very similar to Eudora.

The distinguishing “locking” feature of Calypso/Courier can also be it’s biggest drawback. If you forget the password to unlock your mailbox, getting back in to your email is an ordeal. You may have to create an entirely new mailbox from backups! The free version, Calypso, does not support SMTP authentication.

Thunderbird– www.mozilla.org/thunderbird

Thunderbird is a relatively new email client from the Mozilla Foundation. The Mozilla Foundation is a network of developers that create open source software. All Mozilla products are available for free download. If inclined, users can choose to donate to the foundation financially or with programming contributions.

Thunderbird features a very simple user interface, which may attract Outlook users. The spam filtering within Thunderbird allows users to “train” the program to know which emails are spam and which are not. Users can view “threads” of messages, helpful when tracking the responses on a long string of emails. Thunderbird also offers extensions, or small add-ons, that enhance the client’s features.

One con with open source software is that end-user documentation is not always comprehensive. Because the developers working on Thunderbird are volunteers, upgrades and new features may lag. Thunderbird can import email from most email clients, but cannot import Calypso email boxes.

With all the email clients available today, you no longer need to use the client bundled with your operating system. Most email clients support imports of messages from others, so changing programs is usually an option. Don’t feel that you must use Outlook because it came with Windows. Many of the new email programs have been developed specifically to include features that Outlook does not. Some contact management tools, such as ACT! and NetSuite include built-in email clients. Experiment to see which email client is best for you!

Links Mentioned in this Article:

– www.onyourmark.com/email
– www.act.com
– www.microsoft.com/outlook
– www.eudora.com
– www.rosecitysoftware.com/calypso
– www.rosecitysoftware.com/courier
– www.mozilla.org/thunderbird
– www.mozilla.org
– www.netsuite.com

What would you like to ask the pro? Email your questions to askthepro@OnYourMark.com!

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