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Out Of The Box

Should you store your e-mail on the Web?

Web-based e-mail is coming into its own in '98. The big plus: When your e-mail is stored on a Web site, you can check it from any computer; there's no special software required. That means your e-mail is as close as the nearest "cyber cafe" in any city worldwide. If you're in Singapore and your computer is at home, you can pop into the airport's Internet depot, pay a few dollars to rent a computer, log on to the Web, and read and respond to your mail.

Proof of the growing popularity of Web-based e-mail is that for some months, AOL has been testing NetMail by giving members who are using recent editions of Microsoft Internet Explorer the ability to fetch their mail from a Web site (for more information, go to http://www.aol.com). And Microsoft recently bought Hotmail (http://www.hotmail.com) with the intention of turning the Web-based mail service into a Web-based post office for Microsoft Network (MSN) subscribers.

Don't use MSN or AOL? Don't feel left out. Free Web-based e-mail is easy to find. Excite (http://www.excite.com), Lycos (< a href=http://www.lycos.com>http://www.lycos.com), Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com) and even Entrepreneur (http://mail.entrepreneurmag.com) offer it, and diligent surfers will stumble across many more providers. One tip: In setting up a Web-based e-mail account, look for a stable provider that's been on the Web for many months. E-mail seems simple, but bugs have riddled some systems, and others have suffered from security flaws. So choose wisely when setting up a new mailbox.

To contact Robert McGarvey, visit his Web site at http://members.aol.com/rjmcgarvey

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This article was originally published in the May 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Out Of The Box.

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