Emailing from the Road
Grabbing your email when you're on the road should be a simple matter—and it can be, if you prepare in advance.
Configuring Your Email Program
The first thing you need to do is configure the email program on your notebook with the Internet addresses of your ISP's or company's incoming and outgoing email servers. You can obtain this information directly from your ISP or company tech support department, or just look in the options or setup dialog box of your email program.
For example, in Microsoft Outlook 2007, you add a new email account by selecting Tools, Account Settings. When the Account Settings window appears, select the Email tab and click New. You're now asked to choose the type of service (typically the first option: Microsoft Exchange, POP3, IMAP, or HTTP) and are then prompted for your name, email address, and password. Outlook will then attempt to find your email server and enter the correct information; if it can't do this automatically, you're prompted to manually enter your settings, as shown in Figure 15.9.
Figure 15.9 Setting up your email account in Microsoft Outlook.
Saving Email Messages on Your Server
If your notebook isn't your main PC, you may want to configure your email program to not delete the original messages on your email server. This way the messages will still be available to download to your desktop PC when you get back to the office.
In Microsoft Outlook 2007, you do this by selecting Tools, Account Settings to open the Account Settings window. Double-click the name of your email account; when the Change E-Mail Account window appears, click More Settings. When the Internet E-Mail Settings dialog box appears, select the Advanced tab, as shown in Figure 15.10. Check the Leave a Copy of Messages on the Server option and then click OK.
Figure 15.10 Configuring your email to leave a copy of all messages on your main server.
Using a Web-Based Email Service
Instead of trying to configure your normal email program for on-the-road access, you can instead open a free web-based email account at Gmail (mail.google.com), Windows Live Hotmail (mail.live.com), or Yahoo! Mail (mail.yahoo.com). This is a particularly good option if you're not technically astute, because you don't have to do any configuring at all. Just use your web browser—from any location anywhere in the world—to access the Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail website, and then read and write email to your heart's content. You can even, with a little work, configure these services to retrieve messages from your normal email account while you're on the road.
Dealing with Blocked Outgoing Email
Although you might use your email program to access your normal email inbox to retrieve new messages, you may have trouble sending email from some remote locations. That's because many companies and some ISPs block access to their outgoing mail servers from users connecting from outside their networks. (It's a security matter, to keep spammers and crackers out of the system.) You'll know this is an issue if you can receive email messages but get an error message when you try to send a message.
A good workaround is to use Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! Mail for your traveling email, as just discussed. You can also configure your normal email program to use one of these web-based services for all your outbound messages. You do this by creating a new email account for the web-based email service and using that account to send all your messages from your email program. You still receive messages using your standard account.
You may not need to go to that trouble, however, if your ISP offers its own web-based email service. If available, this service lets you use your web browser (not your normal email program) to access your email inbox and send outgoing messages. Check with your ISP to see whether this service is available.
Some hotel-based Internet services work around the blocked outgoing mail problem by automatically routing your outbound email through their own outgoing mail servers. You don't have to reconfigure anything; any messages you send from your notebook are routed to the service's mail server and sent from there over the Internet. Incoming messages still arrive through your normal mail server.
Note that similar issues apply if you try to connect to your company's internal network or virtual private network (VPN) through a hotel or wireless network. For security reasons, some VPNs may not allow access from the Internet outside their network; you may be required to use a dedicated dial-up connection instead. Consult with your company's technical support staff for specific instructions.