This is the first in a series of older articles I will be publishing in my blog. Please let me know what you think. I've updated some of the service information to be current. RM
On The Road and Feeling Blue:
Getting E-mail from Anywhere
by Ron Miller
Originally Published on Accelepoint, 2000, Updated October, 2005
Freelancers are often on the road working at client sites or trying to drum up new business. When you are away from your computer, it means you are separated from your e-mail account and that means you could be missing important correspondence from a current client or a request for information regarding new business.
This article explores ways to get e-mail from the road. For most people, a free, web-based solution will probably work best, but if you find yourself on the road frequently, you may want to consider one of the phone-based solutions currently available.
Your Internet Service Provider Web Site
The simplest way to get e-mail on the road, assuming you have access to a PC or a laptop with a wireless connection, is to use the web mail interface from your ISP. If your ISP offers such a service (and most do), it makes it incredibly convenient to get your e-mail from anywhere there is a PC. Simply access your ISP's web site, click the mail link, enter your user name and password and read your mail. Typically, you can configure the web e-mail reader, so e-mail stays on the server, allowing you to retrieve it and save it in your regular e-mail program at your home or office.
Keep in mind that if you use this method to be sure to log off when you're done to prevent anyone else who uses the machine from possibly accessing any of your e-mail.
Get a Free E-Mail Account
If your ISP doesn't offer web-based e-mail, you can get a free e-mail account from a provider such as Yahoo! or GMail and use this service to retrieve your mail from a Post Office Protocol (POP3) mail account (which is generally the type of account most ISPs offer). With Yahoo!, for example, you can set up a free e-mail account, then link your account to up to three other mail accounts. You can then retrieve your mail using the Yahoo! mail interface from any computer that has web access.
Let Your Fingers Do the Retrieving
What do you do if you need to check your e-mail and you don't have access to a computer? Simple, use the phone. That's right, there are services that allow you to retrieve your voice mail and your e-mail using a phone.
One such service is Yahoo! by Phone which allows you to access your e-mail from any phone (cell or regular) from anywhere. You set up an account, dial in from your phone, enter your user name and password and Yahoo! by Phone retrieves your e-mail from the e-mail server and uses an electronic voice to read it to you. Prices start as little as $4.95 per month.
It's a Cell Phone, It's an E-mail Reader
With the proliferation of web-enabled phones and wireless services, you can access your e-mail directly from your cell phone. You need to have a web-ready cell phone and wireless service. The wireless provider typically charges a fee for accessing e-mail over and above your regular calling plan fee. Check with your wireless provider for details.
Whether you use a web or a phone-based solution, you can access your e-mail when you're away from your computer in a variety of ways. Look at the different options, compare prices and services and decide which method works best for you and your work style. Whichever method you choose, you will never again have to feel isolated from your e-mail when you're on the road.
2000 - 2005 Copyright Ron Miller.
About the Author
Ron Miller has been a freelance techonolgy writer since 1988. He is the Random Access Columnist for Business Week Small Biz and a contributing editor at EContent Magazine. He has also written for eWeek, EMedia, CMP Linux Pipeline, Internetnews.com, Federal Computer Week, PC Magazine Online and many more. In addition, he has written documentation and developed online help and classroom and online training materials for companies large and small. You can learn more by visiting his Web site www.ronsmiller.com.