What is Email?

A basic overview of email, also known as 'electronic mail'

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Email has become one of the most prevalent forms of communication. In the digital age, people use written communication far more than ever before. In fact, email communication is not only used in lieu of letter writing, it has also replaced telephone calls in many social situations and in professional environments. 

Email Basics

  • The email message - Instead of using a pen to write a letter on paper, you're using your keyboard to type an email message in an email program on your computer.
  • Sending the email - When the email is finished and has been addressed to the recipient's email address, press the Send button  to allow the email message to reach the intended recipient.
  • Email transport - Email servers transmit messages from sender to recipient.
  • Fetching new mail - If you've got new mail in your mailbox, you simply have to click on it and open it.

Benefits of Using Email

It's advantageous to use email rather than write a letter, send a text or make a telephone call for the following reasons:

  • Convenience - Emails are quicker in some instances than making a phone call, where you might be left on hold for an extended period of time or forced to engage in lengthy conversations. Instead, if you have a quick question for someone, sometimes it's easier to shoot off an email that can be answered at a speedy pace.
  • Speed - Emails typically arrive within seconds or minutes.
  • Attachments - You can attach any file on your computer to an email message. It's as easy to send a long master's thesis around the world as it is to email a spreadsheet, a report or pictures.
  • Accessibility - Emails can be stored conveniently in your email program. Good programs make it easy to organize, archive and search your emails, so any information contained in an email is always readily accessible.
  • A Record - Email provides a record of a conversation that you don't have if communicating verbally.
  • Unlimited space -- Unlike texting, you have unlimited space to write as much as you want in an email.

Email Flaws

Unfortunately, email's big problem is unsolicited mail, more commonly known as spam.

With hundreds of these junk emails in your inbox, the occasional good email can get lost. Fortunately, though, sophisticated filters exist that go through your new messages and sort out the unwanted ones automatically.

To report spam correctly, do the following:

  • Identify the real source of the message.
  • Find the ISP responsible for the part of the net where the message originated.
  • Identify the correct person to contact at that ISP.
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