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How accessible are your emails? Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Outlook and Outlook Express are email clients, that is, software on your PC that handles your emails, in contrast to webmail, where you access your email using a web browser, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox. Email clients are used by a lot of people and they have two major failings:

Firstly they all have the ability to save your email passwords, saving you the bother of typing your password every time you want to read your emails. Unfortunately this also saves you the bother of remembering what that password is, often for years, until something happens to stop Outlook Express working. Best case a password reset, which takes time and often occurs at the most inconvenient moment, worst case, you lose access to all your emails completely and have to sign up for a new account with a different email address.

Secondly, as a rule they all take emails from a very secure email server and place them on your very not secure personal computer. This is a very risky situation, unless you have your email client set to "leave a copy of messages on the server", then you risk losing all of your historical emails if your computer fails.

As time moves on, emails are becoming legally important documents and records of online transactions. Buy anti-virus software online and the licence key is often sent to you in the purchase confirmation email, book a flight online and the boarding pass is sometimes emailed to you to print and take with you to the airport.

So you can see, as we begin to use email for more and more important communications, it becomes more important to ensure that we can gain reliable and secure access to our emails from more than one PC, I recall when a free email account would offer 10MB of storage, I believe that Google's Gmail now offers 7GB (7000MB) and Microsoft's Hotmail offers 5GB initially, but if it detects you are getting close to that limit it automatically increases available space, so subject to a fair use policy, the storage is effectively unlimited. The look and feel of Gmail and Hotmail (to name but two) is now very similar to an email client and offers more capabilities.

This means that there is no longer any reason to use an email client in favour of webmail (accessing your emails using a browser) and my advice to you is to switch to webmail as soon as you can and don't set your browser to save your password, it's a pain to begin with, but the more you use it, the easier it is to remember.



If you have received my previous newsletters you may already have read my advice regarding backups, but from time to time I still encounter that horrid moment when I have established that the hard drive is dead and the customer admits they have not made a backup of their data.

Modern hard drives are extremely reliable and this lulls us into a false sense of security, thinking that nothing can go wrong with our PCs, but it can and once it does, there is often nothing that can be done to recover the data, short of a specialised "clean room" repair, costing several thousand pounds.

Very recently solid state hard drives are starting to appear on the market, they have no moving parts and are very fast, they work on the same principle of flash memory that you put in your camera. This makes them less susceptible to damage through being dropped, but they are not immune as I found to my cost when a flash drive failed in my camera. I sent it to a specialist company, but they were unable to recover my pictures. I hadn't dropped it, it simply stopped working when I turned on my camera.

So in a nutshell, if you have any data such as pictures or documents, which hold financial or emotional value for you, ensure that you have at least two copies of it and if you only have two copies, make sure one copy is remote from the PC, as two copies of a picture on a hard drive that then fails is just as lost as fifteen copies.

I am happy to offer advice on the method that would be the most cost-effective for your specific needs, just give me a call, most solutions cost less than £100, some a great deal less than that, but think of the cost of losing years of family photos that you only saved on your PC.