ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Which email service? (K2 #7)

Question of the Week
Which email service do you recommend?
-- Yeshey, Thimphu

Back in the Internet's middle ages (about 15 years ago) most people used an email client, such as Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, to manage their email. When using an email client, received messages are downloaded from a server and then stored on your computer's hard disk. Copies of messages that you send are also stored on your computer. Since all messages are stored on your computer, if your hard disk crashes, all your old messages are lost. This is a major drawback to email clients. Also, it is impossible to access your email from other computers.

While many people around the world - including Bhutan - still use email clients, there exists a fantastic alternative called web-based email, also known as webmail. The idea is that all your email is stored on a server somewhere on the web, and using a web browser (such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome) you can view your received messages as well as send new ones. You can access your email from any computer that has access to the Internet, and you never lose your messages if your computer breaks.

There are many webmail services. The most popular are the "big three": Yahoo! Mail (, Microsoft Hotmail ( and Google's Gmail ( They are all free. All of them provide ample storage for messages and attachments and similar have features, including automatic detection and removal of junk mail. Which is the best service? While all are adequate, I recommend Google's Gmail service. Hotmail will deactivate your account if you don't log in within 90 days (it's 9 months with Gmail), and with Yahoo! Mail you will need to upgrade to a paid version if you require automatic forwarding (it's free with Gmail). Google's service also has a built-in chat, voice calls and many other clever features, including a priority inbox and automatic translation of non-English messages to English.

To sign up for a free Gmail account, go to, and click "Create a new account". Even if you already have a work email provided by your office or a DrukNet mail account, it is still worth considering having a personal web-based email.

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