Components, benefits, and uses of electronic mail

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Email is also known as electronic mail. An email is an electronic way of sending a message over a network. It enables a user to send text, images, videos, and documents which are attached to another person who has an email address. The user sending the email needs to know the address of the destination and they should indicate it before sending.

Electronic mail is used by businesses, companies, institutions, and individuals for communications. They are a fast, simple, and cheap way of modern communication. There are many email software used but the main is free webmail. The most common webmail email service providers are Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail among others.

Uses of electronic mail

  1. They are used by business people to carry out business communication, such as forwarding memos, meeting agendas, appointments, and any other business communication documents.
  2. Emails are used in learning institutions to share ideas and used in e-learning to receive and send assignments. They can also be used to share common materials for students in the same class by having a class email etc.
  3. Governments also have email accounts that citizens can use to communicate and get essential services.
  4. Generally, emails are used almost everywhere by everybody for different functions and applications.

Components of an electronic mail (email).

  1. Sender account and address: You cannot send an email if you don’t have an email account. When composing an email it is automatically added.
  2. Recipient address: to be able to send an electronic mail you will require an email account address of the person and or persons you sending to. The address will mostly resemble something like [email protected] The last part after @ will depend on the type of domain that the recipient is using. The front part mostly takes the username or initial of the user or any other character that the user may desire.
  3. Carbon Copy (CC): it creates and sends a copy of the email to the address indicated on the CC part of the email. You can include more than one address to CC when sending to many users.
  4. Blind Carbon Copy (BCC): If you want to send a copy to someone but you don’t want them to know or see all the other people that have received the same mail, you use BCC. When BCC is used the recipient can reply to only the sender without replying to all others. The BCC will send it to all in the group but it will appear as if they are the only ones who received the electronic mail. This should be the best method to use when sending to many people to reduce cases of email spamming.
  5. Subject area: This is the section where you specify the topic or the subject of your email. You answer the question of why are you sending the email.
  6. Text area (Email body): This is the working space where you write the body of your email. It offers a few formatting tools but they are limited. Users can change the setting to include a signature as part of every email sent at the end of every email.
  7. Date and time stamp: it indicates the date and time that electronic mail was sent. It is embedded automatically into the email.
  8. File and media attachments: It allows attaching a file from your computer or other sources such as cloud documents. The file size is limited depending on the provider of email service. Most email provider allows around 30MBS of file size. Also, they limit the type that can be sent to prevent the spread of computer viruses. Mostly “.exe” files are prohibited.
  9. Send button: After you have composed the email you click the send button to forward it to the recipient email. If you want to save and later edit your email, you save it on the draft of your email. Some providers also allow a scheduled send where you can specify the time that the email will be sent.

How electronic mail works

For a mail to be sent both sender and recipient should have an email account. The email account can be from different email service providers. The sender needs to open the email service provider and compose the email by including all the parts of an email. When ready click on the send button.

When the send button is clicked the message move from the source computer to the server that the sender is using. Then it is forwarded to the server that the recipient is using. When the recipient wants to view the mail they log in to their email account and download the mail from the server to their device.

To reply to the mail the recipient will also require the email address of the other person.

Some servers allow users to download the mail completely from the server to their computer with or without leaving a copy.

Advantages of using electronic mail

  1. Easy communication: email has made business and personal communication simple, fast, and convenient by removing the barriers that were in traditional modes of communication like physical mail.
  2. Attachment of files: Email allows users to attach documents, images, programs, and other small files. This means that you can use text to explain something and attach additional material to give more details of the ideal.
  3. Simple to learn and use: learning how to use email (webmail) is simple and one can learn by themselves. Also, navigation is easy because all main buttons are available at a glance. This makes it easy for all users and also it offers the advanced application and setting for the advanced users to customize to their liking.
  4. Cheap mode of communication: Email communication is cheap because you only need internet connectivity to be able to use it. For business purposes, it reduces the cost of communication and also for printing material because you don’t need to print mail anymore.
  5. It can be used to send mail to groups: Email can be used for group communication most conveniently. Colleges can use this property to be able to communicate to students in e-learning-based programs

Disadvantages of using electronic mails

  1. Spam problem: today the main problem with email is junk emails that are sent by companies advertising their product to you without your approval. These emails are not only annoying but also time-wasting deleting or trying to get your important emails from all the junk. The email provider tries their best to filter junk but still, it is a problem that needs another solution.
  2. Attachment file size limited: The size of file that you can attach to one composed email is limited. The size depends on the email service provider some offer higher than others but they are all relatively small. Again not all types of files can be attached because they are filtered to reduce sending viruses. 
  3. For real-time communication both parties need to be login to their account: if users are not frequent users of email accounts then it means email cannot be as convenient as expected. To give an example you send an email to your friend and you want a reply the same day but your friend checks their mail twice per month. By the time they open the email, it will be long overdue. 
  4. You require an email account: to send or receive an email you will require to have an email address and your recipient address as well. If you don’t have the recipient’s address then it is not possible to communicate. Again misspelling the email address may land in the wrong audience.
  5. Viruses: Emails have been used by hackers to spread viruses across the internet. An email is sent with an attachment and when you open it you activate the virus in your computer. They also use phishing emails where they give a fake link disguised as a genuine link. Most webmail emails are scanned for any viruses before it is downloaded to your computer to avoid downloading a virus.

Electronic mail protocols

Protocols are rules and guidelines that are used by devices when they are communicating to send and receive email. 3 common protocols are used with electronic mail.

  1. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP): It is used to transfer email from the source computer/device to the server and from the sender server to the receiver server. Send from source to server and between the two servers. It is termed push protocol because it pushes the message to the destination
  2. Post Office Protocol (POP3): It is a pull protocol that is used to download mail from the server to the client’s computer. POP3 means version 3 of the protocol. The protocol is limited in its functionality and hence IMAP protocol offers what it cannot offer.
  3. Internet Mail Access Protocol (IMAP): Just like POP it is used to access email from the server after it has been sent. It offers more functionality compared to POP. It allows the search of mail and organization.

Free webmail service providers 

Webmails are the type of mail that requires an internet browser to open and they are accessed from a website. They don’t need email software like MS Outlook to open. With an internet connection and a browser, you can access your mail from any device anywhere in the world.

Mostly web-mails are offered free by search engine companies though even other companies can offer. The users are required to create an account with the preferred webmail provide to access their servers. Some of the main web-mail provider and account includes:

1. Gmail:

It is a product owned by Google Corporation. To create a Gmail account you use the address www.gmail.com or you can use the Google home page and click on Gmail to redirect to the email page. All Gmail email addresses have @gmail.com at the end.

gmail email signin

Google also offers paid custom email for companies that may wish to use their cloud server services. It also collaborates with learning institutions and offers them email accounts that are customized to institution needs.

2. Yahoo:

It is a product of the Yahoo search engine and like other webmails, it offers free services. Its address has a @yahoo.com.

yahoomail email account

3. Hotmail moved to Outlook:

It was owned by Microsoft Incorporation. Use the @hotmail.com extension. Currently, Microsoft has moved all Hotmail emails to their outlook platform.

outlook email account

4. Webmail:

webmail