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Mail on computer or on server?

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4 replies to this topic

#1 OldPhil



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Posted 25 March 2018 - 08:59 AM

Is the average person safer by using a mail program offered by their provider versus using MS program on their computers.  I have thought that viewing mail on a server is safer as things have not been directly loaded on their computer, looking for others opinions.



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#2 hamluis



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Posted 25 March 2018 - 09:48 AM

I use both...webmail and Thunderbird.  I use the webmail as a filter/screening device for all email sent to my email account...and I delete all the spam from within the webmail account.  I then download only the emails which I want to read/keep to my TBird email client on my system.  The webmail site will stop a minority of the spam that I receive...I do not rely on it and just do a visual screen of all email at the webmail site.


I never consider "safety" when it comes to email, other than declining to click on email/links from appears unlikely to be desired or useful.  I just see no reason to download spam emails to my system and I can conveniently use the webmail account to weed them out..



#3 britechguy


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Posted 25 March 2018 - 10:09 AM

It really doesn't matter with regard to e-mail messages themselves (as opposed to attachments).


Whether you use POP or IMAP you are downloading the message bodies to your computer (and that's in webmail, too, otherwise you couldn't see them).  Depending on how you have things configured in an e-mail client you may or may not download attachments in advance as some can be set to download them only if you select them.


In the end, it really doesn't matter in this day and age if your e-mail provider is doing virus/malware scanning, and many do, and you're using some sort of antivirus/antimalware combination that scans all e-mail messages during download, and that's how most are set up these days.


If something makes it through from an untrusted source then I, like Louis, decline to click on any link or attachment in the message and just delete it.


The vast majority of my access to e-mail is via webmail or a mobile client.


From a non-security perspective, I always recommend that folks who have the option use IMAP access, which keeps all their messages on the server with local copies of the message bodies created in the client for some period of time, which eventually get deleted but will be retrieved again if you want to read them at some distant future time.  Data centers have backup and restore protocols that are a lot more rigorous than most home users ever will and, in addition, IMAP automatically causes all devices that access the same e-mail account(s) to remain in sync with each other.

Edited by britechguy, 25 March 2018 - 10:12 AM.
Added bit about IMAP at the end

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#4 Didier Stevens

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 12:48 PM

Are you asking related to malware or privacy?

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#5 STS-1


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Posted 27 March 2018 - 04:51 PM

IMAP is the way I like to go, it gives you more flexibility

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