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.