Taking care of e-mail

For nearly two weeks now, I’ve been participating in a test of Google’s new e-mail system and I must say I’m pretty impressed so far.

I did hesitate to devote a column to a service which is not yet generally available but I decided to go ahead anyway, and give you something to look forward to. Gmail was first brought to my attention by reader who responded to one of the previous FishNet columns.

It turned out that new users of the system are each allowed to invite a limited number of others to participate in the test, and so I managed to get an account through a pal in New Zealand, who already had one.

Gmail is free and users are each given 2Gb of storage space with the idea being that you store all the messages you receive and use the powerful built-in search facility to find messages that you later want to refer to. The amount of space available to you increases regularly and I’ve got now got 2763Mb.

My e-mail arrives in my usual mailbox, as it always has, but it is now automatically forwarded to my Gmail box. The Gmail system sorts the mail and puts the messages it thinks are Spam into a special folder, with the rest going in the Inbox.

I then have access to the messages from any computer with an internet connection and, when I get home, I can download the messages in the Inbox with Outlook Express, just as before. Gmail does not delete the messages I’ve downloaded but archives them so that they’re still available to me over the Internet.

I mentioned that Google filters out Spam and I must say that it does so fantastically well. In the first three days I had a Gmail account, I received 218 Spam messages and the system correctly identified 192 of them and placed them in the Spam folder.

Some Spam messages do manage to slip by but you just report them as such. The system learns by this, and the numbers getting through seem to become less over time.

Messages in the Spam folder are deleted automatically after 30 days, giving you a chance to run your eye over them to check that they are all really Spam. The really good news is that not a single real message has so far been put into my Spam folder.

The only slight downside to Gmail is that it places small text adverts next to your messages when viewing them in a web browser. I don’t even notice them any more and my advice to you is to give Gmail a try as soon as you can.

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