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E-mail, e-mail, email, (short for "electronic mail" from the time before fibre-optic cables) is a method of sending letters between computers. It has various and disadvantages versus the Post (p-mail). Unlike the telephone, which can ring and the expectation is that it is so important that you are compelled to answer it, e-mail is a civilised medium which you can answer when (and if) you want. Literacy and cultural erudition are advantageous. The ability to type helps, but it's not essential.

E-mail is very inexpensive, and costs no more to send to anywhere in the world, ie long-distance e-mails cost the same as e-mailing next-door. But the disadvantages include the fact that the recipient pays rather than just the sender, so some businesses use SPAM (unsolicited bulk e-mail) to push whatever it is they are selling. (This can be got around by various methods including the spam-policy detailed here. Also see How to Hide Your e-mail address!). You can be forewarned of common scams by having a sacrificial email address in addition to your actual email address.

When sending e-mail, you send it FROM your own e-mail address (which the recipient can see), and send it TO the recipient. You can also CC ("carbon copy") the message to a set of other people, and you can BCC ("blind carbon copy") the message to another set of people. BCC is a feature which quite a lot of people don't know about!

One of the problems of e-mail is that some very dodgy things may arrive. Viruses, for example. But you can get around that by the methods detailed in this page: anti-virus measures

There are a few examples of rogue e-mails in the e-mail rogues gallery

As well as ROGUE e-mails, where it's suspected that the sender has deliberate bad intentions, there are also problems from inadvertent bad practice, for example lack of consideration for other people's download speed and/or assumptions about proprietary file types etc. A guide to good and bad practice can be seen here: e-mail guide

Senders of bulk junk e-mail (spam) often fake-up the "FROM" field of the message to someone else gets framed for sending it. This is known as spoofing

Scamsters often use drop-boxes to try to evade capture, but this is often their undoing.

The program in your computer that deals with e-mail is known as an "e-mail client". Typically Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, or Pegasus Mail, but there is a wide choice, especially in Linux operating systems. A good list of e-mail clients can be seen at Xyroth's e-mail clients page

e-mail can be sent/received on your own computer or by e-mail systems on servers. e-mail system providers include Squirrelmail which you could get at V21.co.uk (gone), and the Australian spam-free backpacking e-mail SwagMail, and also spam/virus-censoring system Avecho

When sending files to other people by e-mail, don't use .DOC

If you would like an e-mail address it's a good idea to read the guide to choice of email address. Also see good practice in email

If you would like to send an e-mail to this website, you may send via the contact page. Incidentally, this e-mail postbox is available as a shareware icon:e-mail by clicking here