Email: one more time client vs. email provider

I’m going to once again address an issue that seems to inspire never-ending confusion.  (Sort of like me trying to understand how to play Euchre.)

A reader had a question about OE classic, the email client I suggested as an alternative for the now-discontinued Outlook Express.

 “I have a question about OE Classic. I’ve downloaded it and installed it. I was hoping for a new email address. Am I supposed to tie it into the ISP’s address or something?”

OE Classic is an email client. That means it’s a program that downloads copies of emails from your email provider’s server. You can usually use it with any email provider you like, you just need to add an account. We covered that process for OE express in a previous article. Click here to read. 

But you don’t necessarily have to tie it to an address associated with your ISP. You could use an, Yahoo address, Gmail, or any other mail service.  I’m going to go over the basic terms again and provide some examples.

ISP – Internet Service Provider. This is the company that provides your connection to the Internet. Some of them also offer email service with an email address. You don’t have to use that service if you don’t want to. In fact, I’d suggest not, because you might have to end up changing your email address if you switch services.

Email client:  This is a program that downloads copies of your email messages from your email service. You need to set it up and tell it where to download the messages from by entering your email provider, email address, and password. It cannot create a new email address for you.  Most often, these programs need to be downloaded and installed on your PC. Some examples of an email client are:

  • Windows 10 Mail app (it comes pre-installed in Windows 10)
  • Windows Live Mail
  • Outlook
  • Thunderbird
  • Outlook Express
  • OE Classic

Email service:  There are a number of services you can use for email. The big names all offer free accounts and free email address that are simple to sign up for. Popular email services include:

  • – (your email address ends in,,, or
  • Yahoo –  (your email ends in
  • (your email address ends in
  • (your email address ends in

Any of the above services can be used with any Internet Service Provider. Your ISP may offer an email address.  It would end in something like,,  I prefer using a service like Outlook or Yahoo because you can keep that address even if you change ISPs. If you switch from Comcast to ATT, you’ll lose that Comcast email address.

You don’t need an email client to access your messages. Your messages are almost always available by going to a website where you can log in and view your inbox. If you open a web browser and go to,, etc… , you can read, send, and receive mail.  But no copies of the messages are downloaded to your device, so you couldn’t view offline. If you use an email service provided by your ISP, they will give you the address of the website.

ISP – Internet Service Provider – the company that connects you to the Internet.

Email Service – The company that provides your email address. (, gmail etc…)

Email Client – A program installed on your PC or phone that downloads copies of your messages.

Does it make sense to you now?  If you still find it confusing, his me up in the comments or email me at and I’ll see if I can’t clarify.

One thought on “Email: one more time client vs. email provider

  1. Cyn, what is the advantage of using an email client? My ISP is Xfinity/Comcast and my email provider is AOL. I can access my email on any device by logging into Why have an email client?

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