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Issue #114: September 27, 2009

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Q: Is there an email client that I can run so I can download (pop) email from the various servers I use and then access the emails from another computer on my home network?  My primary ISP account limits my storage so I would prefer to download the mail.

– Terry P.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla

A: I’ve often thought about doing this on my own home network, Terry, but I have yet to find a suitable client-based solution.  One thing I tried was to put the offline mail files on shared storage (see my answer to Mira N. in It’s Geek to Me Issue #111, Sep 6th for more information on sharing storage space on a home network).  This sort-of works, but I routinely run into failures accessing the Outlook .PST file from the network drive, and once it fails, Outlook just sort-of gives up, and has to be re-started (thanks, Bill).  I’ve also had collisions when two computers are accessing the e-mail server simultaneously, and both try to download new e-mail.

However, take heart, Terry!  I do have a solution for you.  Although it may not be ideal, it works for me, and it supports exactly what you want to do, with no collisions.  Many of the free web-based e-mail services allow you to configure them to download e-mail from multiple POP3 servers.  Two of them that I have direct experience with are Gmail, and Inbox.com. Both of them also allow you the option of either leaving the mail on the server, or deleting it after the download.  Once properly configured, you can use the web-based solution from any computer, not just on your home network, but from anywhere in the world and you get single-point access to all your e-mail accounts.  As for limited storage, there are limitations on the web-based e-mail too, but they are measured in gigabytes, and, at least with Inbox.com, you can purchase more storage if the free space is not enough.

 

WACKY MESSAGE OF THE WEEK: I’m introducing this as a new periodic feature for the column.  Much like the “Tip of the Week”, it won’t be in every column – just when I have a really good one, or when I need to fill space and don’t have room to answer another question.   I was tempted to call this the “Windows Wacky Message of the Week” since that’s where most of the oddball messages I see tend to come from, but I don’t want to shut-out any good column fodder.  So if you run across an error dialog or other message that you think qualifies as wacky, send it along, and watch for it here in the column.

I was setting up a brand new laptop when I encountered this week’s Wacky Message.  To ensure the system had the latest of everything, I ran Windows Update.  The system immediately popped up a dialog that said “To check for updates, you must first install an update for Windows Update.  Your automatic updating settings will not change.  To install the update, Windows Update will automatically close and re-open.”  Maybe it’s just me, but probably the last thing I expect to have to update, is the Windows Update software!  Thanks again, Bill!

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