Accessing Outlook E-mail from Remote Locations
For many of us, Outlook is our central information management program: we have our e-mails from multiple accounts, we have our calendars –personal and shared–, tasks, notes and possibly many other things. As everything in life, there are two sides of the coin: you can conveniently access your e-mail from one application but you cannot access it from everywhere.
There are many solutions available to solve the problem, but we will choose the one which is more convenient and which requires fewer steps. Our solution requires three steps to complete, which will at the end give you access to your Outlook email from remote locations:
- A static IP address: Some Internet Service Providers (ISP) assign static IP addresses to their customers for a very low cost. Speak to your ISP and see if you can get one. If not, there is a workaround, which you can walk step by step using the information in Dyn Dns. Follow the instructions on the Dyn Dns website to configure your computer.
- Configure your firewall and router: Make sure that your firewall permits TCP communications on port 143 (IMAP) or port 110 (POP3). Make sure that you have forwarded the relevant port your router (PortForward is possibly the only website that you will need).
- Install Mail Relayer: This is a commercial program (priced at USD 39) that will enable us to provide remote access to Outlook. Mail Relayer is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7 operating systems and Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010. I have tested the program on an Outlook 2007 release running on Windows 7 64-bit Professional.
The hardest part of the configuration – if any – is to follow the instructions on Dyn Dns website. Then, we will install Mail Relayer.
The installation is quite straightforward, simply follow the wizard. After the configuration, you will be able to access your Outlook information from remote locations. At this point, I’d like to emphasize the security features embedded in the product: the connections are secured with SSL encryption and you can set different users and passwords to set different access levels. The logging is also as they should be: for both troubleshooting and connection monitoring.
There are some considerations with the program as well. For example, one of the requirements we have discussed above, which involves opening up a port, means that you are opening one more incoming traffic port to your computer. Second, the major difficulty in my working with the program is the program’s ability to work with only one PST file. This means that you will not be able to access your archived folders. This was very unexpected for me, but it was true. And finally, if you do not see your configuration changes implemented, you need to restart Mail Relayer.
The bottomline is, Mail Relayer is the simplest way you can access your Outlook email from remote locations. Unfortunately, you cannot access your calendar, tasks and other personal information. The best thing is you can access your e-mails from any web browser, even your smart phone’s.