Email flows around the Internet the same way as traditional paper based email. You send out the mail, the mail jumps from location to location, some mail arrives and some is lost. Internet mail travels and arrives or disappears faster than traditional mail but our reliance on that speed creates greater problems than traditional mail.
We know traditional mail sometimes fails to arrive on time and we call people to check if the mail arrives. You have to do the same with email. The timing is a little different. You might send traditional mail then wait three days before calling. With email you wait only one day then call.
You can pay a premium to speed up delivery of traditional mail but there is no equivalent with email. Take the example of sending mail from a bank in Sydney to a friend in a building just five blocks away. I could walk there and back in twenty minutes. If I send the message by Express Post, the mail will be collected from the mail box at 6:00 pm and delivered next day. If I send the message via email at that bank, the mail used to grind through a grossly overloaded mail server, crawl along an undersized data pipe all the way to Europe than halt in a mail server in the head office of the bank. Eventually the mail escaped in to rest of the Internet to battle with the limited bandwidth in some European countries. The email might return to Australia the same day or it might be the next day. Email delays of 4 hours were common and 24 hour delays occurred regularly.
One hour delivery sounds better than three day delivery but neither works if the recipient is on holidays. Email gives you the option of sending a notification if you are away and requesting an acknowledgement from the recipient if you are sending the email. Both are voluntary.
Who remembers to set messages when you are going away? If your home address is public knowledge then sending a holiday message is a quick way of telling thousands of junk mailers that there is no one home guarding your house. The criminal activity of some junk mailers suggests that they would be in frequent contact with lots of burglars.
Call me when you want to discuss best practices for corporate and personal email.
Email requires an email client and the email client can be Web based or an independent email client.
Thunderbird is an example of a reasonable independent client. Microsoft Outlook is an example of an independent email client that is a security risk. Microsoft Outlook Express is an independent email client that is so much of a security risk that I will not install it anywhere, not even to test it.
Web based email clients can be proprietary or open source. The proprietary email clients might be pretty but you cannot check their safety and you usually have to hand over your money before you find out if they are reliable or useful. Open source email clients are free for however long you want to test them. They are also free after you finish testing them. You can look at the code used to create them.
How does open source and proprietary compare? Think about acquiring new clothes. You can make or buy. When you buy, you can buy ready made clothes off the rack or have your clothes made by a tailor. Proprietary software should be like tailor made software in that the proprietary software should fit your needs. In most cases the people selling the proprietary software cannot change the software to fit your needs and tell huge lies about how useful the software will be.
Open source software saves you the trouble of writing your own software but may require some tailoring to fit your needs. You have to make the changes yourself but you get the choice of several starting points because there are usually lots of open source projects when you start. With email there are many open source email clients and most are Web based and most of the Web based email clients are written in PHP which makes changes easier.
There is a lot of work in writing an email reader. Building your own is equivalent to learning to cut clothes and learning to sew and all the other things you would need to learn if you were to make your own business suit. Email is one of the trickier programming tasks. Life will be easier if you start with an open source email client project then modify the project. you might find a project that is completely usable as soon as you finish the download and basic installation steps.