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POP Goes the E-Mail


June 2, 2002

Iagine going to four different mailboxes to pick up all your correspondence. That would be as annoying as a cabbie who won't take a $20 bill. Still, lots of people do virtually the same thing when they log on to get their e-mail. If you have several e-mail addresses and want to receive all your e-mail in one spot, it's time for a POP3 primer.

POP3 is short for Post Office Protocol, third version, and refers to e-mail that is handled by POP3 mail servers. This standard is used by most e-mail carriers, so if you use MSN e-mail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail or Earthlink, you have a POP3 account. When set up the right way, you generally read and manage all your messages in a software program like Outlook Express. But before we explain how to streamline your e-mail, let's cover some basics. Here's how it works: The Internet company stores your e-mail on a dedicated mail server for later retrieval. When you access your e-mail, your computer communicates with the mail server, identifies your messages, sends them to your machine and then deletes them from the server, unless you specify otherwise.

When you use a POP3 software program like Outlook Express, you can organize your incoming mail more efficiently than you can with Web-based e-mail accounts. For example, filtering options are more advanced, you can sort messages into different folders as they are received and mark, or "flag," important messages. You can also read your e-mail offline and save as many as you want since they are being stored on your own hard drive.

The disadvantage of POP3 mail is that some companies are charging for the service. Yahoo! Mail began charging $29.99 for POP3 mail about two months ago. Another drawback is that sometimes you can only access your mail from a computer that has the POP mail software loaded on it. However, there are ways to get around this dilemma. For instance, Hotmail allows you to manage POP3 mail from any browser, though there are storage limits. And, there are other utilities you can use to check your POP3 mail accounts from a browser. For more information on these, visit www.emailaddresses.com/email_checkpop.htm. Be warned: Some of the free POP3 utilities will send advertisements to your mailbox and some won't work with firewalls, so be sure to read the fine print.

Finally, setting up a POP3 account for the first time can be a bit difficult since you have to know information about the servers that handle your e-mail. Fortunately, most ISPs provide step-by-step instructions at their Web sites. In general, however, what you need to know is the incoming mail server or POP server name, outgoing mail server name (called an "SMTP server"), POP user name and POP user password. To find the information, ask your ISP or the company that provided you with the POP3 account, or look in the setup options of your e-mail software. Often, the POP server name follows a simple formula. For instance, for Yahoo! it is "pop.mail.yahoo.com" and the outgoing server name is "smtp.mail.yahoo.com." The POP user name and password are usually what you use for your e-mail account.

To set up a POP account using Hotmail, log in and then click on "POP Mail" in the right panel under Hotmail Services. Type in the information requested. Next, check Leave Messages on the POP Server option. This way, you still have copies of all your mail on the server. Next, select icons to identify mail from your different e-mail accounts. Once you're done, all your e-mail will show up in your Hotmail account. Now that's an Inbox.

By MICHELLE MEGNA. From: Arts and Lifestyle / Technology /Sunday, June 02, 2002


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