Web Based Email Services Computer Science Essay

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Since 80's decade, there have many web-based e-mail service company has developed, such as Yahoo Company, Hotmail Company, Google Company and other else. They not merely provide webmail service; they also improve their product by investigating and developing different internal service to attract more users to enjoy their product. For example, those companies provide online chatting service, blogging service, online sharing service, calendar and contract. Those feathers cause their product more competitive in the market. However, the most recommend product still is the email service and another features simply are the additional features to make user more favor in using their product.

Electronic mail has come as long ways since the advent of the Internet with billions of mails being received and sent each day. Around our life, we discover that most people browse the website but actually there have more people use email service than browse the website because email can simply to communicate other person in anytime. As the Internet has no distance issues, it is simply, cheaper and quicker to send an email to anyone around the world than send a traditional letter. It is mean that the traditional letter has replaced by email since Internet become general in our daily life because emails become the way to communicate more efficiently, quickly and cheaply. So, it is easy to send the emails to different peoples around the world.

Due to Internet has no distance issue, many corporation starting use email as the main communicate ways to complete the discussion of trade transactions. Another reason is by using latest technology there has nearly zero mistakes compare with traditional writing. Besides that, when the corporations consult the trade detail by email, they can archive the mail or message as a backup in their own storage system and there also have record inside mailbox. For the corporation, there has double insurance. The corporation also can use lesser paper and reduce the space to store paper document. By using technological storage system, corporation can research and show the document easily and use lesser time. So, email is more reliable in collecting and rummaging compare with traditional letter.


Electronic mail, commonly calls email is a method of exchange digital massage across the Internet or other computer networks. Originally, email was transmitted directly from one user to another user when both sides are online at the same time. Today email's system is based on store-and-forward model. Email servers accept, forward, deliver and store messages. User no longer need to online at the same time and just connect to the email server, it will send or receive the message from the email server. (Wikipedia,-)

An email can be simply some text sent from one user to another or include attachments such as pictures or documents. It can be a mail elaborate daily detailing or an encrypted message sent between government organizations containing classified information. Emails become many use and becoming mature, feather-rich method of communication that appears complicated, but has an underlying technology that is very simple. (Becta, 2004)

An email message consists of two components, the message header and the message body which is the contents of the message. The message header contains control information, including organizer's email address, recipient address, subject and size of the message and the sending time. The additional information is subject header field. Those information usually display to the user as bold text before they view the fully message. There will display as icons within the email when the mail include attachment. When the mail exist picture, normally there will automatically embed it into the message body. (Wikipedia,-, Becta, 2004)


The Client

Email is based on a client-server model.

The client carries out the user's interactions with the email server. Client can appear in:

Application based- these are installed application onto the machines include Microsoft Outlook and the freely available Outlook Express and Eudora.

Web based- these appear in a web browser's window include Hotmail, yahoo and Outlook web Client

When using the program to send or receive the mail, the program will directly communicate onto email server. When received an email, the program uses POP3 (Post Office Protocol) server to check the new income message and download it into our machine and delete from the server. To send an email, it uses SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) to send the outgoing message to the server, which delivers it to the recipient's email server. (Simplimation, 2009) The advantage of the email program is it is safety to store at our own computer. The disadvantage is to open the email we should use our own computer.

When using the web-based email, it is using Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) that we are not composed or stored the mail in our computer, we are access an email provider's Website. (Simplimation, 2009) When we send a message to another, the Web browser sends the message to the email server which will deliver the message to recipient's email server. The income message will store at email server, when we display the email by web browser. We no need to download it to our computer and it still store in the email server. The advantage is we can display the message in any computer and no need update the software. The disadvantage is the message is not at our computer.

Those client's functions have greatly different but the provide basic function to their user, there are ability to create new emails, display and store the received emails, hold the address and other function that help organize the user's working day. Client deploy account name or information and IP address of the email server that it can be sent or received emails to every user with no error. (Becta, 2004)

The server

Email server is a combination of processes running on server with large storage capacity. It has ability to receive, send and store the email or attachment by process automatically at scheduled times. When the client connects to the email server, it can received or check the new email. Sometimes it may be permanently connected to the server to allow access to shared address books or calendar information. (Becta, 2004)


How Email Appears to Work

How email really works

From the user standing point, sending an email is simply. We just need to select the recipient' email address, type the context and send it. But in reality, there have a few of process when we send an email to another.

The diagram is sender send an email to someone at different company. Following the diagram, there have six steps to send an email to another.

The first step is sender creates and sends an email. The sender creates an email in their Mail User Agent (MUA) and click "Send". Mail User Agent is application for the sender to compose and read email or is a generic term email delivery applications. It manages mail delivery mail between Mail User Agent (MUA) and Mail Transfer Agent (MTA). (Kavi,-)

The second step is sender's Mail Delivery Agents (MDA)/ Mail transfer Agents (MTA) routes the email. The MUA transfer the email into MDA. MDA accept email and transfer to local mailbox or forward it if it is not locally address. From the diagram, we find that after that MDA will enter a "network clouds" called "Company Network" cloud. (Kavi,-)

The third step is network cloud. In this step, email can encounter a network cloud. The network clouds include mail server, DNS server, router and other devices. When processing a usually heavy load, these will affect the speed and some time will unable to receive an email when taken down for service. Sometimes systems cannot identify themselves properly to the Internet through the Domain Name System (DNS), so MTA in network cloud are unable to received mail from the address. The device under protect by firewall or some mail dictation, it will reject or even delete an email. When the mail deleted by this kind of software, there will not give any notice for the sender for the delivery failure. Email service provider and those companies have their own private network cloud. These companies have multiple mail servers and redistribute the mail to whichever MTA is available by through central gate server (such as, email hub). (Kavi,-)

The fourth step is email queue. From the diagram addressed someone send the mail to another company, so the mail enters an email queue with other outgoing emails. If there have mail many or the mail volume is too large, the mail will delay in the queue until MTA process the message. (Kavi,-)

The fifth step is from MTA to MTA transfer. When transferring an email, MTA will handles all matter of the mail until the massage is accepted or rejected by MTA. As an email clears the queue, it enters the Internet network cloud where it is routed along a host-to-host chain of servers. (Kavi,-) Each MTA in the Internet network cloud needs to "stop and ask directions" from the Domain Name System (DNS) to recognize the next MTA in the delivery chain. The exact router is depending on server availability and MTA can accept email from domain address. Most email is take the path depend on the server availability. (Kavi,-) So if the message is in same host and address, there can send email by other ways. To find the recipient's IP address and mailbox, MTA must though over DNS because DNS include a set of servers distributed across the Internet. (Kavi,-)

There has 13 root of server serving the top-level domains (e.g., .org, .com, .edu, .gov, .net, etc.). Those servers handle the request for the TLD but at practice, it is seldom necessary. MTA can skip this step because it has already known which domain server are process the requests. (Kavi,-) MTA will ask for the suitable server which Mail Exchange (MX) servers have knowledge of the sub domain or local host in the email address. MX holds different job title with MTA. (Kavi,-) To the DNS server, the server that accepts messages is an MX server. When is transferring messages, it is called an MTA. MTA connect to MX server on the MX record in order of priority until it finds the host for the address domain. After that, the MTA will ask for the host to accept message for the recipient's username at that domain and transfers the message. (Kavi,-)

The final step is firewalls, spam and virus filters. Before the message reach to the destination, the message will pass over a least one firewall. After pass by the spam and virus blocker, the mail will accept for delivery by receiver' MTA. This MTA called as local MDA, will transfer the delivery mail into correct mailbox. (Kavi,-)


Most email service is running by two separate processes on a same machine. One process is the Post Office protocol 3 (POP3) server. It holds emails in a queue and delivers email to the client when they are requested. Another is Simple Mail transfer Protocol (SMTP) server. It receives outgoing email from clients and sends or receives the email to another SMTP server. These two processes are linked for internal mail delivery that the mail can move between POP3 and SMTP servers. It will connect to the server on certain TCP/IP port when the client called for sending or checking for mail. (Becta, 2004)

The picture below shows the relationship between clients, email servers and the Internet.

Most email server run on web server platform is provided email services installed and possibly other service. Each server has one or more distinct Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) address. There have many port attach to TCP/IP address, there range is from 0 to 65,535. TCP/IP use different port to distribute jobs and service. The server will listen for client or application to directly call the port for getting the requirement service. (Becta, 2004)

The figure shows an example of a web server with the TCP/IP address of It carries out different mission such as website hosting, and File Transfer Protocol (FTP). For each request which make for client to requesting information, there will connect to the specified port to ask for the information. TCP/IP uses different port for each requests so that there can distinguish what each request processed easily. Emails usually use port 25 for SMTP and port 110 for POP3. (Becta, 2004)


Email address compose by two part, email account and domain name. Email account is the actual user's account and domain account is the Internet registration name of the organization. These two part separate by "@" symbol. (Becta, 2004)

The email account names normally have certain format, the most popular being "forename.lastname" or "forename_lastname". The following is the @ symbol show the end of the email account and start of the domain name. (Becta, 2004)

The domain name usually is the company registered address on the Internet and placing "www". Before the domain name should give the organization' website and the email address have not space in it. (Becta, 2004)


Microsoft Outlook previously a call Microsoft Office Outlook is a Personal Information Manager (PIM) from Microsoft or is a separate part of the Microsoft Office Suite. The objectives of PIM are record, track and manage certain type of personal information. Microsoft Office is an office suite of interrelated desktop applications, servers and services for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. (Wikipedia, 2010) The current version of Microsoft Outlook is Microsoft Outlook 2010.

The first mail service is joined in The Microsoft Office for Windows 1.5. Now, Microsoft Outlook provides Calendar, Task Manager, Contact Manager, note taking, a journal and web browsing service. It can be a stand-alone application or work with Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server for multiple users in an organization. Those servers are provided sharing service, sharing calendar, public folder and meeting schedules. Outlook also provides Internet communication service like Skype. (Wikipedia, 2010)

Outlook use POP3 and IMAP server on the email service and include lightweight fax application. The first version out Outlook was developed at 1997 and replace Microsoft's previous mail program, schedule and Exchange Client such as Outlook MS-DOS, Outlook for Window 3.1x and Outlook for Macintosh. (Wikipedia, 2010)


Window Live Hotmail previously called MSN hotmail and now commonly refers as Hotmail which is free web-based email service. It is provided by Window live Group which is under Microsoft and is the first web-based email service provider. The founders are Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith and launch in July 1996 as "hotmail" and the fund support are Draper Fisher Jurvetson. It acquired by Microsoft at 1997 and rebrand as "MSN Hotmail". Current version called "Window Live Hotmail", officially announces at 2005 and release to world at 2007. (Wikipedia, 2010)

Window Live Hotmail has unlimited storage and the security measure has been applied for patents. Window Live Hotmail, Ajax technology (it is web application, can retrieve data from the server), Windows Live Messenger, Spaces, Calendar, SkyDrive and Contacts are integrates. According ComScor (August), Window Live Hotmail is the world's largest web-based email service provider and has 364 millions of users. (Wikipedia, 2010)

The feature of the Window Live Hotmail is similar with other webmail service company. Hotmail using latest Ajax programming techniques, support Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome. Hotmail Active View can directly show the attach pictures or lines inside the email. Quick View use are allow users perk all email in the folder by document attachments, photo attachments, flagged messages, or shipping updates. One-click filters allow user to filter the specific folder based on unread message, from Window Live Contract list, Window Live Group or social networking website. (Wikipedia, 2010)

Hotmail can edit and view the Microsoft Office (Microsoft Power Point, Microsoft word excel) files with Office Web Application. Users can open the attach office documents with web browser and store at Window Live Skydrive. Users can send the file to Window Live Skydrive and share it which each document no large than 50MB (total can send and share 10GB). (Wikipedia, 2010)

Besides that, Hotmail also provides conversation threading. It can send and receive the email from a same conversation to same conversation. Users can turn on or off this feature by their own preference. (Wikipedia, 2010)

Hotmail supply "virtual broom" which allow user move or delete email form the folder. When the "sweep" action performs, user can choose the same sweep setting to move or delete the email from the same sender in advance. (Wikipedia, 2010)

When make a registration, user can choose their favor Hotmail domain address with the format xxx@hotmail.com or xxx@live.com. (Wikipedia, 2010)


Gmail provide by Google, is web-based and advertising support email service and it support POP3 and IMAP. The beta release of Gmail service is on 1 April 2004 and it becomes general on 7 February 2007. (Wikipedia, 2010)

Gmail provide 7.5GB of storage for their users and the users can rent additional storage by paying money. Gmail labs feature allow users bookmark the important message, custom keyboard-shortcuts and game. Users can enable or disable to use this Gmail labs feature on their preference. (Wikipedia, 2010)

Gmail spam filter feature use is when a user mark a mail as spam, in the future system will auto indentifies the same message. Gmail also provide sharing service, it called Google Buzz. It allows users share lines, media or status update. Google also offer telephone service in Gmail Google Chat interface. This service allows users make free call from their Gmail account to U.S. and Canada. This service recorded over 1 million calls in 24 hours on 26 August 2010. (Wikipedia, 2010)

Gmail service is accessed in mobile phone and support different language. Users allow editing, sending, viewing and replying message by phone. Iphone and Ipod are supported this service at 2009. (Wikipedia, 2010)





Number of Users

364 million

191 million

Storage space


7.2GB and expanding

Attachments size



Email forwarding

Yes, but only hotmail and live.com account


POP3 access

Yes, but just few countries started to use it


IMAP access



Email downloaded

Yes, by Window Live mail or Hotmail on Outlook Express

Yes, by popular email client

Auto reply



Contract list



Custom folder creation



Deactivation if not in use

90 days

9 months

Spell checker



Anti-virus for scanning income message



Language supported



Email search



Interface layout


Basic and clear

Name of service

Window Live Mail


Blogging service

Yes, Space (name)

Yes, Google Buzz (name)

Integrated web IM and SMS



Mobile access

Yes, but more is just provide chatting service


Ease of use




From the research, I find that web-based email service is better than application-based email service due on the extra features and convenience. However, web-based email service is lack on the security because it stored at server. If the server invaded by someone, the users information will lose and inflow to another person. On the contrary, application based- email service store the email in our personal machine, if coordinate the latest anti-virus it more safe.

Since email service and sharing service developed, we no longer store the photo or document in our own computer and will store it at the server because by store at server, it can save our computer's space and it not so easy lose the photo and document. Beside that we also can use email service as a backup. We upload the attachments and send back the email to our own mailbox to reduce de security.

Following the higher requirements of humans, those email service providers exploit more useful function on their own service. For example, the original email services just provide email service and now they provide blogging service and online chatting service. Despite these, they also improve their webmail service by participle filter service and expand the storage of email. It means in the future those email service will evolutes into more function and maybe will replace traditional telephone service, fully becomes a part of our life.