Moving Email

Dear Computer Lady,

We are moving in with my in-laws and therefore will be cancelling our current internet service and using my in-laws’ service (which is the same company we’ve been using).

We were told by the internet service provider that we probably already have in place an “email client” that will save our contacts and the contents of our inbox, etc.

How do I know if we indeed have that and how do I access all my saved info once we move and set up new accounts thru my in-laws’ service? We have Windows XP and use Windows Live Hotmail for our email.

Thanks for your help!

Sincerely, Heather


Dear Heather,

The first thing you need to do, is determine where your email messages and contacts are stored, then we can figure out if you need to save your information, or if it will be available to you without you needing to take any steps.

There are two basic ways to access your email.

If you have an online email account like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or others and you open your web browser to access your e-mail, then you have what we call web-based e-mail and your messages and contacts are stored online, not on your computer.

If you have an email account through your internet service provider, and you open a program on your computer like, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Eudora, Thunderbird, or Outlook, then you are using an email client and your messages are stored on your computer.

Sometimes, you can choose whether you want to access your email online through a web-based interface, or download your messages and read them in your email client software. Let me give you a couple of examples.

My Internet service provider is Time Warner Cable. Through them I have the ability to download my messages to a client email program, or access the messages on the Time Warner Cable website on their web mail page. I have chosen to download the messages to Microsoft Outlook on my computer.
I also have an email address with Google’s e-mail program, Gmail. Most people use Gmail’s web-based interface, but Gmail also offers you the option of downloading your messages to your email client software.

This might all sound complicated, but all you really need to do is ask yourself one question: Do I go on the internet to access my email and contacts, or do I open an email program to access my messages and contacts?

If you open your web browser (Internet Explorer for example) to access your email, then your information is stored online and you will be able to access your messages and contacts from any computer that is connected to the internet.

If you open an e-mail program on your computer (like Outlook Express or Windows Mail) to access your e-mail, then your information is stored on your computer.

If you are bringing your computer to your in-laws house and using it there, you will not need to do anything. Either you will still be accessing your messages online, or using the same e-mail program which will still contain your contacts and messages.

If you are going to be using a different computer at your in-laws, and you are using an e-mail program instead of web-based e-mail, then you will have to save your information and import it to the new computer. Windows Live Hotmail can be accessed both ways, but I would need to know what program you are using to give you exact directions.


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