Advantages & Disadvantages of Webmail

By Beth Winston

Webmail can be a convenient alternative to a traditional desktop email service where the software runs and messages are stored on your own computer. But webmail also has a few drawbacks that you might want to consider before signing up for an account.

Advantages: Convenience

If you travel frequently and work from remote locations, this can be the most crucial advantage of webmail. You can access and use it from any computer with an Internet connection. That includes public access terminals such as those in libraries and hotels. All your messages will remain centrally stored, so no matter where you access your account, you can get all your messages.


Basic webmail services from the big providers are usually free. Some providers offer premium services for a fee.

Retain Your Address

Even if you change Internet providers, you'll still get to keep your old email address. This means you don't have to worry about all your contacts remembering your latest address when they're trying to get in touch with you.

Large Storage

The big webmail providers offer you unlimited storage, or storage in gigabytes, so you effectively never have to delete messages to save space--even ones with large attachments. This also means you don't have to keep all that data on your own computer, freeing up space for other things.

Disadvantages: Personal Name

Because webmail has such a large customer base, you will often find that you can't create an address using your own name, or the name you had in mind, because it's already taken. It can take some creativity to come up with a memorable and simple email address that's still available. If you're using your webmail for a business, this can also be a disadvantage because some people perceive webmail addresses as unprofessional.


Because you aren't paying for the service, webmail providers have to get their revenue from advertisers. This means you'll have to put up with banners and even personalized advertising, something traditional email services don't carry.

More Spam

Spammers tend to target webmail services more than traditional providers simply because of their large customer base. So even if you're careful not to sign up for commercial services, the spammer will still find your address and bombard you. On the plus side, spam filters are becoming more and more sophisticated.

No Offline Working

As reliable broadband becomes more available, this is less of an issue; but you do have to be online both to view your messages and to write and send new ones. This means you can't just download your new messages, disconnect and look at them offline, and you can't look at old emails without being on the Internet. Similarly you can't compose a message offline and then connect and send it.