This month, I’m going to focus on the different ways to get your email.

Your email provider receives email on your behalf and you have two basic choices for how to view it: via app or via browser.

App: email apps (also called email clients) exist in Windows, OS X, Android, iOS, and Linux. They go by names like Outlook, Thunderbird, and Mail. At a minimum, they need to be configured with your email address, email password, and email server name, but sometimes you also need to know protocol (described below), encryption, and port numbers. They are easy to use once they are set up.

Browser: you can receive your email via any browser, as long as you know your email address, password, and webmail address. There is basically no setup, but it can be a bit more cumbersome to use.

A third approach is emerging for those who depend heavily on their email: configure a NAS or server to get your email, then use an app or browser to view it from there or directly from your provider. This way you have a consistent backup of all your email history, and multiple ways to view and organize it.

The common incoming email protocols are POP, IMAP, and Exchange. POP is pretty simple: it downloads email to your computer and optionally deletes it from the server after a given time (immediately, or delayed). IMAP and Exchange are a bit more complex because they leave all email on the server and just synchronize the local copy with it (which is handy if you are getting your email on multiple devices).

Check with your email provider to see which protocols they support, their server names/settings, AND how much email storage they offer. In many cases, you can combine these different approaches … it’s always good to know more than one way to do anything technical.

In my next article, I will list some email clients and a couple of email server approaches.