What’s better: A desktop e-mail client or Web-based e-mail?

It’s an issue all computer users face: Would it be preferable to download a desktop e-mail client like Sparrow or Postbox or is Web-based e-mail like Gmail the better choice? Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a clear winner. For many users a high-end desktop e-mail client is the better choice. For as many other folks, Web-based e-mail makes more sense. Fortuitously, the Lifehacker Web site recently ran a story identifying which computer users are better suited to desktop e-mail and which should consider using Web-based e-mail. Their list, though in no way definitive, certainly helps answer the desktop-vs.-Web-based e-mail dilemma.

Is a Desktop e-mail client right for you?

How do you know if you’re a good fit for a desktop e-mail system? Lifehacker provides this checklist: First, you manage several different e-mail accounts with different domains. Secondly, you frequently have to access your e-mail messages even when you’re not online. Third, you use advanced filtering, filtering your e-mail messages and assigning folders depending on the sender, subject header and certain keywords. Finally, you’re an e-mail security buff, relying on security measures such as digital signing and encryption when sending and receiving e-mail messages.

When Web-based is best

Lifehacker supplies a list, too, to help you decide if a Web-based e-mail system is the better option for you. First, if you prefer a single inbox for all of your e-mail, Web-based e-mail might make more sense for you. Secondly, if you only maintain a few e-mail addresses, you might choose Web-based e-mail. This kind of e-mail is practical, too, if you do much of your work at the office or at school. Often, your employer or school won’t let you download and install a desktop e-mail client on their computers.

The good news

Here is the best news of all: Whether you decide to go with a desktop e-mail client or simply a Web-based service, take comfort knowing that you’ve got lots of outstanding choices to help you manage and organize your e-mail messages. Desktop services like Sparrow and Postbox give you a wide range of organizing features. On the Web, the tried-and-true Gmail remains one of the strongest e-mail clients, whether desktop or Web-based, available to people who use computers.

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