My mother is reasonably computer-literate, and is fairly careful with keeping backups of important data and things like that. However, recently, her main computer suffered a hard drive crash resulting in the loss of the majority of her recieved emails. In a modern Web 2.0 world, this wouldnt be a problem, however my family has long used the Telus-provided email address that comes with the internet subscription. We discovered very early-on that it has limited storage capacity, so we were unable to keep a copy of recieved messages on the main server, and instead had to rely on our own archiving and backup solutions.
After the drive failure, I decided there had to be a better way to manage all these emails, without having to copy large archive files on her computer. My own experience with Gmail has been very good, and I've been using the web-based email account since the first couple weeks it was in beta. In this instance, the attraction was the massive storage that is available (and continuing to increase).
For my mother's new email solution, we needed to achieve the following:
- Large storage capacity.
- Ability to recieve mail from the old account (by default)
- Ability to send mail from the old address (by default)
- Needed to be able to use Outlook for all email work.
- Access from anywhere, for vacations and mobile work.
Naturally, I knew that Gmail could achieve goals 1, 3, and 5. I use gmail's ability to send from multiple addresses for work, and for educational purposes (school emails are just irritating). As for 2 and 4, I forsaw complications. However, Gmail (and Outlook) proved remarkably easy to set up, and I'll show you how its done!
Step One: Make your Gmail account
Google makes it easy to create your new email account! Simply visit Gmail.com and follow the steps.
Step Two: Set up Outlook to work with Gmail
The first part of our Outlook configuration is fairly straight-forward. Gmail offers guidance on setting up POP3 from the "Forwarding and IMAP/POP" tab of the Settings. We want to leave a copy in Gmail's inbox, for future web-access, and we want ALL mail to be available via POP. After these settings are applied, follow the configuration instructions for your client (link is at the bottom of the POP section of that tab).
Step Three: Set up Gmail to retrieve mail from current address
At this point, we can send and recieve messages from our Gmail account, using the Gmail address that we set up. This satisfies goals 1, 4, and 5. Now to achieve number 2!
By going to the "Accounts" tab in the Settings section, you will see a section where you can add a POP3 account to Gmail. This will allow Gmail to download the emails from that account, delete them from the remote server, and hold its own copy in the inbox. Click on the "add another mail account" link, and follow the instructions. Remember, we dont want Gmail to leave a copy on the old server. Gmail seems pretty good at figuring out all the POP and SMTP server information, so it shouldnt be too much trouble.
If there is a point in the configuration of this where it asks if you want to be able to send mail using your old address, DO IT. This will allow for you to email (from the web-gui of Gmail) using your old email address.
Step Four: Outlook Finalization
Currently, your Outlook setup will be configured to send/recieve email from Gmail AND from your old account. This is no good! We need to disable the RECIEVING of mail from your old account, and disable the SENDING of mail from Gmail. (Essentially, using Gmail's POP setup, you can only send using the Gmail address, even if you've configured others inside the webUI) To do this, we're going to go into Tools->Send/Recieve->Send/Recieve Settings. We're going to "Define Send/Recieve Groups". In this dialog, we can choose which accounts are Send Only, and which are Recieve Only. We want the Gmail account to only Recieve, and your old address to only Send.
As a final step, in the Tools->Accounts dialog, we need to set (if not already) the old account to be the default account.
Step Five: Gmail WebUI Tweaks
Since the overall goal of this excersize is simply to use Gmail as a storage solution for email (and an emergency mobile mail client), we should make sure that you can send mail from the WebUI using the old address. In the Settings section, go to the Accounts tab. From there, you should see a "Send Mail As" section. If your old email address is listed, then its a simple matter to set it as the default. If its not listed, we need to add it using the on-screen instructions.
What we've essentially done at this point is created a gmail account for the purposes of storage, and nothing else. The people sending you mail, and the ones recieving mail from you, should never even notice that you have a gmail account in between you. It might take a few send/recieves in Outlook to get everything all synced up, but my mother has had no issues at all since I first set this up the week before Christmas. Best of all, she'll never have to worry about storage or archiving again!