One of the most common frustrations among professionals who rely heavily on email is the inability to easily check email from multiple locations. Usually the problem is stated along the lines of: "I can't seem to download email from my home office" although sometimes the situation is reversed.

As irritating as this situation can be, it's usually quite easy to overcome, once you understand a few basic email conventions.

The first thing you need to realize is that the default installation for most email software clients includes a setting that directs the program to remove messages from your email server after they are retrieved. This makes perfect sense for anyone using just one computer to send and receive email.

However, using this default setting also means that once you have downloaded your email to one system, it is no longer available on your email server for downloading to any other computers. For the user who wishes to work with email on more than one computer, it is this default "delete from server" that setting creates the problem.

The solution, naturally, is to modify your email software's settings on each system so that they will leave your messages on the server, even after they have been downloaded.

The result of making this change is that your messages can then be downloaded to any of your machines, and that they will remain available for downloading to your other computers as well.

However, leaving email on your server can create its own problems as eventually these messages will consume however much space your email provider allows for email storage. After this happens, incoming messages will begin to bounce back to the sender with an "email account over quota" error message.

Fortunately, better email programs will allow for more advanced settings, such as the ability to automatically delete messages from the server after a user-specified period of time, or when messages are emptied from your Trash-box.

Configuring these preferences will enable you make your messages available to more than one computer, but without overwhelming your server with old messages in the process.

For instance, configuring your email software to delete email after five days would allow you to retrieve any email received within the last five days from any number of your systems. Of course, this means that if you regularly work on two computers, you will end up downloading almost all of your email twice.

Because of this, the "delete when emptied from Trash" option may be your best choice. Using this setting, messages that you both delete, and then empty from your Trash-box, will be removed from your server and need not be downloaded again from your others systems.

It's important to note that each email program has different menu options, but a quick review of your Help menu will tell you what options are available within your software, as well as the appropriate steps necessary to make these changes.

One final note point to remember is that you will need to make these modifications on all of your computers, though they do not need to be running the same email software.

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale