Are you a desktop or Web-based e-mail person?

The debate is an old one: Are Web-based e-mail services such as Gmail the best choice? Or do savvy computer users go with desktop e-mail clients such as Sparrow or Postbox? Just as with many other long-running technology debates, this one doesn’t have a definitive answer. As a recent Lifehacker story points out, different e-mail systems are more effective for different users. So if you’re deciding whether or not to install a desktop e-mail client on your pc or rely on the cloud and a Web-based e-mail provider, your first step is simple: You need to determine what type of computer user you are.

The desktop client

The Lifehacker story does a good job identifying which computer users are right for which kind of system. For instance, Lifehacker recommends that you choose a desktop e-mail client if you frequently find yourself accessing e-mail messages when you’re offline. For obvious reasons, you can’t do that with a Web-based e-mail system. A desktop system might make more sense, too, if you own several different e-mail addresses with several different domains. Finally, if you utilize security measures – such as encryption or digital signing – or if you plan to filter your e-mail messages by subject header, sender or keywords, a desktop client might be the better option for you.

When Web-based is best

Lifehacker supplies a list, too, that will help you decide if a Web-based e-mail system would be the better choice for you. First, if you prefer a single inbox for all of your e-mail, Web-based e-mail will make more sense in your case. Secondly, if you only keep a few e-mail addresses, you can choose Web-based e-mail. This type of e-mail is practical, too, if you do much of your work at the office or at school. Often, your employer or school won’t let you download and install a desktop e-mail client on their computers.

Plenty of choices

Here is the best news of all: Whether you go with a desktop e-mail client or simply a Web-based service, take comfort in the knowledge that you have lots of excellent choices to help you manage and organize your e-mail messages. Desktop services like Sparrow and Postbox give you a wide range of organizing features. On the Web, the tried-and-true Gmail continues to be one of the strongest e-mail clients, whether desktop or Web-based, available for people who use computers.