From the Kenosha News on 12-11-05

Use free, web-based e-mail from anywhere

E-mail is likely the most popular use of a computer on the internet. Many internet providers give subscribers one or more free e-mail accounts with their service. While these may be useful, I recommend using a web-based e-mail service not tied to your ISP (internet service provider.) There are several free services available, including Yahoo, Hotmail, MSN, AOL, Netscape, and Gmail.

There are two primary benefits of a web-based e-mail service. First, they use a browser rather than an e-mail client like Outlook or Outlook Express. Since a browser requires no configuration, you can read your e-mail from any computer anywhere. If you use a service with a client, you must configure the client with your user ID, SMTP, and POP server info. You won't want to do this on a computer in a library, school, or internet café, so you'll likely be limited to only reading your e-mail at home.

The second benefit is that you can keep the same e-mail address even if your ISP changes. For example, if you have SBC as an ISP and e-mail provider and you switch to RoadRunner, you'll need to change your e-mail address, notify all your contacts, re-do your address book, and so on.

The e-mail service I use is Yahoo mail. They give me 1Gb of space, of which I have only used 4%. I find the interface very easy to use, and they make some attempt to filter spam into a separate mailbox. They also filter out viruses on incoming and outgoing mail. To get an account or to login, go to http://mail.yahoo.com. I also use Yahoo to host my web site - http://www.sabbarpublications.com, and doing both with one provider simplifies things.

Hotmail is a very popular free e-mail provider. One of my sons uses it. He gets 250Mb of space and can decide what is spam by sender. MSN and Hotmail use the same servers to host both hotmail.com and msn.com addresses. Go to http://hotmail.com or http://hotmail.msn.com to login to either one.

You need not use AOL as your ISP in order to have an aol.com e-mail address. In fact, if you use AOL instant messenger (AIM), you will use your screen name and password to login to AOL mail. You can set up an account or login at http://webmail.aol.com. AOL provides 2Gb of e-mail storage and reportedly do spam and virus filtering. Netscape also provides e-mail addresses using the same servers as AOL. You can use your AOL screen name as a Netscape e-mail address as well. Go to http://mail.netscape.com to login or activate your e-mail with Netscape.

Real computer nerds (like my older son) prefer Gmail, provided by Google. To get a Gmail account, you must be invited by someone who already has one or you can sign up using your cellular phone. Go to http://gmail.com or http://mail.google.com to login or read more about it. They provide 2.5Gb of space.

All of the above are free, but your "payment" is having to look at ads – from smallish to about half the screen. You'll also get e-mail from the businesses affiliated with your provider.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 12-11-05