There are many sites that offer free e-mail/Web mail services, where anyone can get a free e-mail account. However, the service and features vary between providers.
Web mail is stored on the World Wide Web and is retrieved using any Web browsing software such as Internet Explorer, Netscape, Lynx, etc.
This means you can check your e-mail at the public library, at work (if you have Internet access), at some convenience stores (which costs money) and, with the right technology, at home though your TV.
Web mail providers offer enhanced security and mail screening features that are more sophisticated than those on many commercial accounts.
For example, I receive no advertising in two of my Web mail accounts and very selected ads in the other two accounts. In contrast, I receive five or six unsolicited ads per day in my commercial account. Additionally, I have one Web mail account set to receive only mail from people I've sent mail to.
Web e-mail benefits
With a free Web-based e-mail account, you can keep the same address forever, even when you switch Internet providers. This makes it much easier to keep in contact with people, mailing lists and newsletters, and you won't have to transfer your address book next time you move.
Another advantage to Web-based e-mail accounts is that you can read your e-mail and send e-mail from any computer from home, from work or even on vacation.
To be sure that the e-mail provider you select will be around forever, I've included only the largest free e-mail services for comparison purposes.
Cool Web mail accounts
ICQMail@icqmail.com This service is fully integrated with the ICQ package, with a "new mail" indication appearing inside ICQ when you receive messages in ICQMail. Along with the usual features (such as folders, filtering and address books), ICQMail offers a spell checker. You can check up to five other e-mail accounts via this service.
Jahoopa@jahoopa.com Free Web-based e-mail service with a raft of extras, including optional e-mail screening for obscene language. You can set up address lists, distribution groups, sort your mail into folders, add attachments and graphics to outgoing mail and more.
Popular sites Some of the most popular accounts are: hotmail.com, yahoo.com and excite.com. Those sites can follow you around wherever you can sign on to the Internet. They're popular among people who use multiple computers. The only drawback is that you often get junk mail when signing up for these free services.
Anonymous e-mail. Sending e-mail on the Net as privately as possible is often a good idea unless you use it for bad purposes.
Three sites for setting up those are at anonymizer.com, anonmail.net and mailanon.com.
Be careful of attachments. Never open an e-mail attachment that you are not expecting to be sent to you.
E-mail attachments are a common way of infecting your computer with a virus. Viruses such as "happy99.exe" and "explorer.zip" are just two of the more recent examples of destructive attachments sent by the ignorant and the malicious.
Online editor Devin W. Walker can be reached at 832-7222.