One of the simplest definitions of email is, a mail that is sent electronically. The email was first used in 1965, facilitating users over a computer network to communicate with each other. SDC's Q32 and MIT's CTSS were the first computer systems to use email for communication. In 1966, this mailing service was introduced to the public.
What is an Email?
The abbreviated form of electronic mail is 'email'. Email is a system used for creating, sending/receiving and storing data in a digital format over a network of computers. Earlier, the email system was based on Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), a protocol used to send mails from one server to another. Today's email technology uses the store-and-forward model. In this model, users send and receive information on their computer terminals. However, the computer is used only to connect to the email architecture. The creation, transmission and storage of email takes place only when connection with an email architecture is established.
Advantages of Email
There are a number of benefits of using an email service. The benefits are listed in a manner that readers should find them easy to understand.
Easy to Use
Sending an email frees us from the tedious work of managing huge chunks of data. An email service helps manage our contacts, allows us to send mails quickly, helps maintain our mailing history and provides sufficient storage space. An email can be sent from any terminal (computer) in the world with Internet access.
Mails sent by postal service make use of paper. Thus, electronic mail prevents a large number of trees from getting axed. Using the electronic mailing service also saves the fuel that is consumed in the process of transporting letters.
An email can be delivered instantly and almost anywhere across the globe. No other mailing service matches the email in terms of speed. You can send a message/mail simultaneously to multiple users; thus, email service saves a lot of time.
Informal and Conversational
Generally, the language used in emails is simple. It makes the process of communication informal. The process of sending and receiving emails doesn't require much time. Therefore, it can be used as a tool for conversing, just like chatting.
The email service providers offer their customers/users with enough space for storage of data. Also, the process of sorting and arranging mails, as per the subject or other criteria (date, sender, etc.), is made easier for users.
Provision of Attachments
The feature of attachment allows users to send huge chunks of data in a single mail. Also, sending attachments with emails doesn't raise cost as in postal service.
Easier for Reference
When a person has to reply to an email, he/she can use the provision of attaching previously sent/received mails. Such mails can be used for the purpose of reference in the communication process. It helps the recipient understand what he/she is reading.
It is possible to send automated emails with the help of specialized programs like autoresponders. Autoresponders reply only to those messages with a generalized, pre-written text.
Easy to Prioritize
Emails come with a subject line. Therefore, it becomes easy to prioritize them and ignore the ones that are unwanted. Thus, users can easily sort and filter the mails in their inbox.
Reliable and Secure
Constant efforts are taken to improve the security needed for using an electronic mailing service. Today, electronic mailing service is considered as one of the most secure ways of communicating online.
Use of Graphics
Users can send colorful greeting cards and interesting pictures through emails. This provision adds great value to the email service.
Nowadays, many individuals and business organizations are using the email service to advertise their products, services, etc. Thus, email can also be used as a marketing tool.
The expenses incurred in using an email service are lesser in comparison to that in the traditional mailing service. However, the expenses also depend on whether you have an Internet connection at home or not. Those who don't have access to Internet at home can avail the services offered by internet cafes.
Advantages of Technological Development
Development in computer technology has enabled users to send emails not only from their desktop computers, but also smartphones and other such devices. Thus, a user can send and receive emails even while he/she is traveling.
Disadvantages of Email
The email service, although has many benefits to offer, it also has certain limitations. Disadvantages of the email service are listed below.
Emails when used to send unsolicited messages and unwanted advertisements create nuisance and are termed as spam. The activity of checking and deleting unwanted mails may consume a lot of user's time. Therefore, it has become necessary to block or filter unwanted emails through spam filters.
Generally, spamming is practiced by sending hoax emails. Email spoofing is another practice which is commonly used for spamming. The act of spoofing involves deceiving a recipient by altering email headers or addresses from which a mail is sent.
The act of breaking into computer security is termed as hacking. In this form of security breach, emails are intercepted by hackers. An email, before it is delivered to the recipient, "bounces" between servers located in different parts of the world; which is why email accounts are vulnerable to hacking by professional hackers.
Not Suited for Business
Many a time, business documents go unnoticed amidst large number of mails which get accumulated in the inbox. Thus, urgent transactions and especially those which require signatures cannot be easily managed through emails.
Viruses are computer programs which have the potential to harm computer systems. Viruses are known to copy themselves and further infect the computer system in question. Recipients are required to scan their mails because, viruses can be transmitted through them.
The email inbox tends to get crowded with mails after a certain period of time. Thus, it becomes difficult for users to manage huge chunks of emails. Such kind of information overload often repels users from using the email service.
Lacking that Personal Touch
Even in today's digital age, there are many who feel comfortable reading the handwritten word. Emails lack that personal touch.
Internet Access is Required
There are many parts in the world where people don't have access to Internet. The email service doesn't serve any purpose in such areas.
One has to be careful while posting content through an email. If typed in a hurry, the matter can be misinterpreted by readers.
If a mail is too long or not drafted properly by the sender, the reader may lose interest; he/she may not read the mail till the end.
Checking the Inbox Regularly
In order to stay updated, one has to check his/her email account regularly. If a person, due to his/her busy daily routine, does not check the inbox, he/she can miss out on some of the important and urgent messages.
Every new technology which enters the social world has its share of advantages and limitations. Different people interpret and utilize technology in different ways. In order to make the most of the available technology, users should try to understand both, the positive and negative aspects of the tools they use.