How to Read Email – Online Or Offline, the Choice is Yours

Most people think pretty carefully about which email messages they choose to read. And many folks decide when and how often to read incoming mail. But few take the time to consider HOW they actually read the mail. Maybe you didn’t even realize that you had choices about how to read your email. Your options will vary, depending upon who your email provider is.

Suppose you use a cable modem and you have Internet access through Comcast. Mail that gets sent is physically stored on a mail server that’s maintained by Comcast, You have a password that gives you access to the account. You can fire up your computer, open the browser (e.g.Internet Explorer), navigate to the page, and login with your email name and password. You’ll be able to see your mail, read it, sort it, reply to it, and delete it, all from the browser.

You actually perform all these functions while you’re on-line. You can disconnect when you’re done. Using this method, you’ve not downloaded anything to your local computer, so you’ve not used up any hard disk storage space. And as long as you haven’t opened any attachments, you probably haven’t exposed your computer to any threats from viruses, trojans, or other “ bad guys“ (the official term is malware). Whatever messages you didn’t delete after reading will stay on the Comcast server, where you can return to read them again. You might consider this your on line backup storage for emails.

If you’d rather retrieve the messages and store them at your location, you have the option to use an email client like Outlook Express, Eudora, Incredimail, or Pegasus to perform that process for you. It requires a bit of set up, but once it’s properly configured, it’s pretty easy to use on an ongoing basis. You can use both these methods at different times. If you’re out of town, you can check your email anywhere you have Internet access. Then you can download the messages you want to save when you return to your computer. Pretty slick.

Many of the popular free services like Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo mail were originally designed for reading email on-line. With a little bit of work (and sometimes an add-on product which is also free) you can set these up so that you can download messages to your computer to read off line as well.

What about business email that gets sent to your web site? Most web hosting companies provide email service that allows you to choose whether you want to read it on line (this is often referred to generically as „webmail“) or whether you want to have it automatically forwarded somewhere else (like your Comcast account).

You can also choose to have some of it forwarded to one place, and some of it to another. You might have different email addresses set up for your business and you want email addressed to [email protected] to get forwarded to you, and everything else to go to your assistant. Note that if you choose the webmail option, you can always choose to forward individual messages after you open them. Remember, if you read and deal with your email while you’re connected to the Internet, you won’t be using up any storage space on your local computer.

The choices are yours. Look at the volume of mail you receive, think about who needs to deal with it (and where and when), and work with it the way that works best in your particular situation.

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