HomeHome : Help Center : Question

Is it possible to read my email on another computer besides my own?

Answer: Usually, yes. But it depends on the way your email account is set up. Most email servers today use the IMAP protocol, which stores messages on the mail server. This allows you to access your email from multiple computers and portable devices, such as smartphones. Since the messages are all stored in a centralized location, the same messages are available no matter where you access your email.

Some email accounts, however, may be set up using the POP3 protocol. This method downloads new messages to your computer when you access your mail and then removes them from the server. (Some email clients delay the removal of messages several days or weeks after you have downloaded them.) If your email is set up as a POP3 account, when you check your mail from multiple locations, you may see different messages in your inbox. Therefore, downloading messages from a POP3 account on multiple systems is generally a bad idea.

If you plan on checking your email from multiple locations, make sure you choose "IMAP" as the account type if you are given the option. Fortunately, most webmail systems like Gmail and Hotmail use IMAP as the default setting.

Important: If you can access your mail from multiple locations, anyone who knows (or guesses) your email login information can access your mail as well. Since many people already know your email username (your email address), it is especially important to choose a secure password for your email account.

Published: February 16, 2011 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center