You’ve decided that you are tired of using webmail and want to use a desktop-based email client instead. You are certainly not alone; it is often the preferred method of reading email. However, finding a free client which is reliable and has decent support can be a little bit on the daunting side.
So let us take a walk together through the world of free Windows-based email clients and see what is out there and what features are available. We will take a look at four different free clients within this article.
This is perhaps one of the two most used email programs and offers a good deal of functionality. It handles both email protocols (IMAP and POP) as well as having its own calendar and easily integrates Hotmail as a part of its services.
The spam and phishing filters with this program are pretty strong and do a decent job of protecting you from harmful content within your email. It also will integrate Windows Live Messenger and will track your RSS feeds.
On the downside, the search option could be a bit stronger since the ability to organize mail via labels is missing. There is also very little integration between your email and the calendar, making sending invites a bit cumbersome.
If you want an email program that will help you organize your mail effectively then Mozilla Thunderbird is your client: it is the second of the two most popular packages we mentioned above. If offers email labeling as well as a smart foldering scheme. Thunderbird has support for both email protocols (POP and IMAP) as well as the ability to access your favorite RSS feeds as if you were reading an email discussion.
The spam filtering on this program can be a little bit aggressive, and you might need to check your junk email folder quite often for false positives. On the other hand, it boasts a “learning” junk mail system, so after taking out the emails that you want to read a few times from the junk mail folder you shouldn’t have to again.
Thunderbird, however, is not all that great when it comes to showing related messages, attachments or documents, and the RSS reader can be a little bit confusing for those who may not have used one before.
Those two clients above account for the bulk of email client popularity, but they aren’t the only packages available. Next up is Incredimail, an email client with a specific set of people in mind. If you want to be able to add a lot of emoticons, stationary, glittery text and handwritten signatures into your email, then Incredimail was made with you personally in mind. A flashy email program that allows for both email protocols, with spam and junk filters that work OK, and a lightning fast search option, many users adore this package.
Incredimail could certainly offer a bit more when it comes it comes to productivity, as well as either getting rid of its paid protection features or beginning to include them within the program for free. It does not offer encrypted email messaging, meaning overall that if you are looking for a client to use for professional reasons, this isn’t it.
In exchange for offering only support for POP email protocol, Dreammail allows the ability to correlate other data from your email box quickly and correctly by showing related messages, documents and attachments that may be present. This program also allows you to work with templates and stationary easily, allowing you to create good looking emails as well as just being informative. The RSS feeder that comes with Dreammail is also one of the most powerful available. It handles RSS feeds quickly and quietly, making them available for reading in an ordered manner and by the rules that you set down.
However, if you want to converse in a language other than English with your email partner you will want to look elsewhere. Dreammail does not handle other language codecs at all. It has also been reported that Dreammail could be a lot more effective when it comes to spam filtering.
Now some words of Advice
As you can see, there are many options available for just about every type of email user out there. It all depends on the features that you seek as to what email client you will eventually choose to go with. Now we close with some words of advice.
If you are uncertain of an email client’s ability to filter out spam, phishing, remote images (Which can use a privacy issue) or other risks, make certain that your antivirus program is up to date and remains so. Most antivirus programs now offer email scanning as a part of their services, giving you the ability to go with one of the less security conscious clients if you so choose. Remember, though, that two filters are still better than one.
Also, even though it’s been said a million times, we’ll make it a million and one: do not share private or sensitive information about yourself, or passwords by email. Some websites and services will send you your password through email when you initially sign up. Either print those out, write them down or otherwise have them in a secure place that is not within your computer and delete the email.
If your antivirus program offers email shredding, use the shredder. This may sound paranoid or repetitive. However, a good deal of people only uses one or two passwords in their lives, ever. This means that if someone were to get one of those passwords that you use on a regular basis from your email (by being left in a conversation that was not cleaned up before replying or by downright phishing) that hacker could possibly have your online banking password. From there, just let your paranoia run wild. Be safe out there, kids, and it shouldn’t matter what client you use.