Difference Between Email and Webmail

Email vs Webmail

Electronic mail, more commonly known as email is an inseparable part of modern day lifestyle. Our communication in personal life and business has become so much easier and accessible to a great majority on earth because of email. Literally, email is a method of sending or receiving text, images or other material in electronic format via a computer network. 

More about Email

Basic email system appears in the computer network ARAPANET in the 1970`s which evolved into the sophisticated tool we see today by contributions through many other sources. Our understanding of the structure of email is important in understanding the differences in conventional email and webmail.

Even though the modern email systems use the Internet to send and receive emails, email can be implemented on any computer network. Email starts its journey on a user’s computer connected to a network. The user compiles the email on a specific software more formally known as a Mail User Agent (MUA).

 An email usually has two components, a Header and a Body. The header contains the sender`s address, the recipients` addresses and other information about the email. The body contains the actual message content in text format. Once the user click on the SEND button, the email is sent to a Mail Submission Agent (MSA), which is operated by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the user, through the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). When an email is sent or transferred from one server to another, this protocol is used.  Then the MSA looks up for the mail exchange servers for the recipient`s addresses using the Domain Name System (DNS) Services, which is simply a process to identify where to send the email. Mail exchange server also formally known as a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) which is a software that transfers emails from one computer to another. Usually the MTA`s also operated by ISPs. There can be many transfers from one MTA to another MTA in an email`s journey. Finally, the email is received by a Mail Delivery Agent (MDA), which delivers the email to the recipient`s mailbox. MDA is a software that is responsible for delivering the incoming mail of each recipient to their respective mailboxes. Mailboxes, in reality, are storage spaces allocated on a server for each individual user. When the recipient click on the Get Email button, recipient`s MUA moves the email from the mailbox to the Inbox in the recipient`s computer. For receiving emails, MUA`s use POP3 (Post Office Protocol) or IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol).

More about WebMail

A Mail User Agent implemented as a web application which is accessed through a web browser is known as a Webmail program. More commonly, Webmail refers to an email service based on the web, such as Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and AOL Mail.   

Operation of Webmail is similar to the conventional email, except MUA is a web application working on a web browser rather than a particular software running on the user’s computer. The mailboxes (Outbox, Inbox, etc.) of a user are located in the webmail provider’s server. As an additional feature with most of the webmail services, users can receive the email to a MUA on the user`s computer. Webmail services use the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) for mail transfer.  

Main advantage given by webmail is that users can access their emails through a web browser from anywhere in the world, not only on the user’s workstation or personal computer.


What is the difference between Email and Webmail?

• MUA (Mail User Agent or Email Client) of conventional email is a software installed and working on the user`s computer and MUA of Webmail is a web application working on a web browser.

• Conventional Email allows access to email from a single computer, while webmail allows access from any computer with an Internet connection and a supported web browser.

• Storage spaces (mail boxes) for an email account is provided at the ISP server and the User`s computer, but Webmail storage is with the email service provider’s servers.

• Conventional email uses the SMTP, POP3 and IMAP protocols at different phases of mail delivery, while webmail primarily uses the HTTP.