It’s increasingly common to feel the need to be able to access Outlook remotely. Maybe you want to check your mail or do some work from home, or maybe you want to stay in touch while you’re travelling. It’s always frustrating to tell people that Outlook is designed to deliver mail and hold information on a single computer. It takes some planning to make it share nicely.
Small offices can move up to Small Business Server 2003 – click here for my thoughts on September 3. It’s cheap, reliable, and one of its many features is Outlook Web Access, making your Outlook folders available to you wherever you have an Internet browser.
If you have a conventional POP3 e-mail account, it’s possible to download e-mail at two different locations. In Outlook, the advanced settings for an e-mail account permit messages to be left on the server for a number of days, and theoretically the messages can then be downloaded by a second computer or viewed through an ISP’s webmail viewer. Although I know people putting this to good use, I’ve seen it fail as often as not, resulting in missing messages, duplicate deliveries, or overflowing mailboxes on the ISP server.
With broadband connections on both ends, it’s possible to have a very satisfying experience using remote control programs to gain access to an office computer. Here’s an article summarizing the alternatives – web-based access with an expensive subscription to GoToMyPC, the traditional, expensive favorite PCAnywhere, and a couple of others. The article doesn’t mention Remote Desktop, the free technology built into Windows XP Professional, which is similar in many ways to PCAnywhere – difficult to set up for remote access through a firewall but relatively easy to use once it’s configured.