Webmail: What is an email client? where do my emails ‘live’?

An email client is a program that lives on your computer and lets you send or receive emails. Typical examples include Outlook and Windows Live Mail.

We don’t recommend using email clients – they’re less future-proof than accessing your emails through a browser or app via webmail. Support for email clients is dwindling, too – Microsoft is winding down its support of the Outlook program for desktops, and for Windows Live Mail.

With an email client, the emails themselves are stored on your computer’s hard drive as small files.

You won’t be able to check all your emails from a different computer if you use an email client.

Email client:

  • A program on your PC
  • Saves your emails as files to your computer
  • Often used when you have an email account from your broadband provider
  • Limits you to accessing your emails from just one computer

Email clients vs webmail

This is different to a webmail system such as Gmail or Outlook.com (formerly called Hotmail).

With these webmail services, the emails live online in the cloud, and you can access them from any computer, using a web browser.You simply need to log in to your account.

We recommend using webmail rather than email clients, as it’s much more flexible in what it lets you do.


  • A free email service
  • You access your account by logging into it in a web browser
  • You can log in from any computer anywhere in the world
  • Works well with smartphones and tablets
  • Frees you up to switch broadband providers as you can always keep your email address

where do my emails ‘live’?

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