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Poll Results: How Do You Email?

Published by Chris Coyier

I drew the chart above with the <canvas> element. So if you can't see it, I guess that means your browser doesn't support it. I didn't do anything fancy at all, just some rectangles, this is literally my first time trying it. The bars represent the different "ways you can email" described in the opening post.

The runaway winner was Pure Cloud, with 53% of people that exclusively use an online mail service, through a browser, like GMail or Yahoo or Hotmail or whatever else. In second place, Localized Cloud, with 21% of people who use an online mail service, but pipe it through a local mail program. 18% said Pure Local, meaning they use a local mail program as well as run their own mail servers on their own domain names. Finally, only 8% said they used a Clouded Local setup, where they run their own domains and mail servers, but use an online mail service to interact with it.

The results actually don't surprise me all that much, but the debate did. I expected a little more heat, with people explaining how their setup was clearly the only way to go when it comes to email. Here are my fake arguments:

Pure Cloud

  • The browser email experience is far superior to the desktop client!
  • I can access my email from any computer in the world and have it be exactly the same experience as if I was at home!
  • My email is safe from computer failure!
  • The spam filtering is second to none!
  • Not running my own mail servers saves precious server resources!

Localized Cloud

  • Web applications do not run as smoothly and reliably as desktop apps!
  • I get all the benefits of browser based email with a superior client!
  • My email is backed up offline!
  • (Services like) Google go down a far less often than personal servers do!

Pure Local

  • There is no middle man reading my email!
  • No companies are gathering information on me!
  • My email is 100% under my control!
  • I laugh at you clouded people when your email goes down and there is nothing you can do about it!

Clouded Local

  • I get all the benefits of having my email be totally under my control WITH the benefits of having a consistent online email platform!
  • I have a fallback when online mail goes down!

But anyway... I guess the point is there are advantages and disadvantages to any of the different ways to go. Personally I'm Pure Cloud. 98% of the time I'm as happy as can be and I sing the praises of GMail. Then it goes down and I whine and whine.

New poll will go up sometime soonish. Gonna be an interesting one again I think.


  1. Permalink to comment#

    The canvas element seems so like it has so much potential! What are the odds of Microsoft giving in and ditching VML…

  2. Permalink to comment#

    I used to be a 100% Outlook and Exchange user, until recently. Strangely enough, with the failure of my Windows Mobile phone, and adoption of an Android phone, I was also convinced, converted over to the daily use of Gmail. I actually just started writing about this conversion, the why’s and what more is needed for everyone else in my latest article…


    Jeremy Horn
    The Product Guy

  3. imma
    Permalink to comment#

    > So if you can’t see it
    heh, my browser supports it, but not my feed reader ;-)

    I go with cloud (localized for phone) as I don’t actually have a server/desktop pc – only have laptop & phone computers

  4. Permalink to comment#

    hhm, still missing Localized Cloud / pure local mix ^-^

    i really would not like it if any couldy enterprise like google could read my business e-mails. of cause privacy is to discuss, if you don’t use pgp or such, but still… for the same reason i d never use googledocs or such. mine is mine is mine ^-^
    for private mails, i m fine with google and love the storage (D’oh! i’m kinda inconsequent ^-^)

    anyhow, i am pretty scared of a “pure cloud os” – future, in other words: chrome os — should get a big brother award ^-^ (ok, just kidding! [for now!])

  5. Permalink to comment#

    I couldn’t live without:

    – the general speed of my local (osx) mail client (multiple imap accounts)
    – the way I can handle attachements
    – fast spotlight search (+ adv. filtersettings) from within and outside of my mail client
    – local addressbook management

  6. Permalink to comment#

    Probably the only issue I have with my 100% cloud solution is the attachment handling, though it’s something I could see Google really improving in the future.

    Beyond that, the cloud is it for me.

  7. Permalink to comment#

    How interesting.. Both the poll and that Opera supports it in the browse window but not in the reader…

    Hmm that said, it is probably actually the javascript req that is making it die. Can you do anything with canvas that does not req javascript?

  8. Dan
    Permalink to comment#

    There is no middle man reading my email!

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Anyone who thinks that they completely control every aspect of their own email data is fooling themselves. Email is a very un-secure method of message transport. It’s like sending a readable postcard that leaves copies of itself laying around as it passes through each post office along the way. Every server it passes through is a “middleman” and a security risk to your data. That’s just the nature of email.

  9. Joakin
    Permalink to comment#

    I use safari 4 and i see the chart, but there only are coloured bars in there.
    Is it supposed to have any kind of label?

  10. I actually use GMail through a Fluid application with Google Gears installed. I have my mail backed up offline, get the best (and worst) of the “GMail Experience”, and have a dedicated application for it.

  11. Permalink to comment#

    I wanted to take part in this poll but I use a combination of Pure Cloud (gmail) for webby stuff if I’m leaving comments/signing up for stuff etc and my email addy might be shown/passed on and Pure Local (Thunderbird, for my pop/smtp – friend & family personal and business email accounts).

    There wasn’t really a category for me to vote in 1005 honestly but I can’t say I am at all surprised to see the results as pure cloud way ahead of the rest.

    I would be pure cloud by now if I didn’t have so many saved emails and after having a load of reminders vanish from my Google Reminders not so long ago I am still a little wary of trusting pure cloud for important stuff. A local backup is always nice to have in my opinion.

  12. Todd
    Permalink to comment#

    I use Gmail, which I access using my personal laptop or when I am on my computer at work. However, on my XP desktop computer at home (which I am using right now) I still use the Thunderbird e-mail client to download the e-mails to my computer. I was reading the CSS Tricks e-mail this morning via Thunderbird, clicked on the link whick brought me here. It always opens up by default using IE 6 (need to fix that). By the way, browsing the CSS Tricks site in IE 6, the avitars (pics) in the responses area are floating on top of the text.

  13. Permalink to comment#

    I belong to the 8% :D

  14. Maggie Wolfe Riley
    Permalink to comment#

    You are so funny :) I love the “fake arguments” and the last sentence. One advantage you didn’t mention to using the “localized cloud” set up is access to email when offline. In our always connected world, that seems to be rare, but sometimes before a trip, I’ll get all my email and then read it at my leisure in the car (while my husband is driving!)

  15. Permalink to comment#

    Pure local rules. ;)

    I can see the chart. Clever Safari, you are indeed a fantastic browser.

  16. I think I got confused – I use Google Apps with my own domain name (purely through my browser) – is that Pure Cloud or Clouded Local?

  17. rolfsf
    Permalink to comment#

    for canvas support in IE, try loading the excanvas script in your page:

  18. anonymous
    Permalink to comment#

    canvas isn’t part of XHMTL, so you can’t blame browsers for not supporting it if XHTML is the doctype you’re serving.

  19. Permalink to comment#

    I use my own mail server with because I like to check multiple email accounts at once, and I also get notified by a sound when I get new email which is nice.

    I like to use my own mail server because I can create email accounts easily when I want and its personalized

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