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What are the Disadvantages of Push Email?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Email is a system for sending and receiving virtual text messages through the Internet or other computer networks, and there are at least three ways that email recipients can read their email. For one thing, recipients can use a client to pull their email from the server at their ISP (Internet Service Provider) or other server location where it lands. In this system, called “pull email,” the user can set the client to poll the server at a desired interval or simply poll when they wish to, and any email available when the server is checked is downloaded. Alternatively, they may choose to go online, either through their ISP or other service website and read their email there, not downloading it to a desktop or laptop machine. Finally, they may decide to employ push email, which — like every system — has its disadvantages.

Push email is email that is received once, either on a server or on a desktop, and then forwarded to a laptop, PDA, or other portable device. Push email is an example of a “push technology.” Push technology is automated from the sending end; pull technology is automated or directed from the receiving end.

For some people and in some professions the difference between pull and push can be crucial: messages have to be received as instantaneously as possible. For many people, however, it is worth considering the disadvantages of push email and making a considered decision between push email and pull email.

For one thing, disadvantages can arise from push systems that are really pull systems in disguise. This happens because in these services, rather than simply pushing the email, the server sends text messages to tell the PDA, smartphone, or laptop to pull mail from the server and the texts may be included in the text message count. This can add up. This is dependent on the email client, the email server, and the particular device being used.

Another issue is that some users claim that push email uses up more battery life than pull email because email is transferred more times. In addition, not everyone has the same access to push technology, so the sender may assume receipt when it hasn’t actually happened. In situations such as these, it is possible that a text message would have been more effective and a choice the user could have made, had he or she known. Finally, smartphones and other devices that receive push mail may have a built-in function to let the user know with an alert. Some people receive so many emails that being notified every time one is received is impractical and annoying.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth , Writer
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for WiseGeek, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.

Discussion Comments

By anon95650 — On Jul 13, 2010

> Another issue is that some users claim that push

> email uses up more battery life than pull

How can that be? If 10 messages are pushed to me, instead of me polling 100 times (90 times for no reason) how can that ever kill your battery faster?

Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth


Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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