Download emails to both your notebook and desktop computers
Q Is there a way of synchronising the email inboxes between my desktop and notebook computers?
I have two computers at home and I download my mail to both of them from the same account.
This results in two different inboxes and it’s difficult to remember which messages are on which computer.
Is there a way of either keeping them both synchronised or, if not, viewing
the inbox on one computer from the other using my home network?
A It’s possible to do this, but it’s not very elegant. When you download email to one PC, the ISP can be told to keep the mail on its server.
Then, when the second PC downloads the email, it can pick up all the same messages. Don’t worry, the two computers will remember what they’ve each downloaded, so you won’t start seeing duplicates.
To set this up, open Outlook Express and click the Tools menu, then Accounts.
Double-click your email account, then choose the Advanced tab. Tick the box marked ‘Leave a copy of messages on server’, and tick ‘Remove from server when deleted from ‘Deleted Items’’, then click OK, and Close. Do the same on the other PC.
If you use Outlook, the same options are to be found by clicking the Tools menu, then E-mail Accounts. Click Next, then double-click your account name, click More Settings and choose the Advanced tab.
Most ISPs offer a webmail service so you can read your emails online in an internet browser without needing email software.
Sometimes this includes extra features including calendar and to do lists. The disadvantage is that the emails are not downloaded to the computer so they are harder to backup.
The best solution is to use Outlook Express on one computer with the setting described above and use the webmail on the other computer.
If you are not sure about the address for webmail, an alternative is www.mail2web.com.
A much better answer is to use a mail technology called Imap, in which all your email sits on a server, rather than being downloaded to the hard disk.
That means you can log in from any computer, or a web browser, and you’ll always see the same email. All common email programs support it.
We recommend Fastmail which offers this as standard on its free account.
However, this will mean changing your email address or setting up your current email address to forward emails automatically.
Whether an ISP will let you do this and the setup process varies, so contact you ISP for more information. Imap emails are downloaded to the computer when they are read so you can read them again when not connected to the internet.
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