Access Your Outlook Inbox Remotely -- Without Outlook

Last Updated May 6, 2010 1:04 PM EDT

Folks who work for large companies usually retrieve their e-mail via an Exchange server or something like it. But if you run a small or home-based business, accessing your inbox remotely poses something of a challenge -- especially if it's an Outlook inbox.

Fortunately, there's an affordable solution. MailRelayer provides remote access to your Outlook inbox via your smartphone or a Web browser.

TechRepublic has a full review of MailRelayer, but I think this excerpt says it best:

If your company already has some sort of central email system that provides external access (like Exchange, Zimbra, etc.) and Outlook is simply used to manipulate data on the server, MailRelayer is not for you. But, if you are someone who keeps all of your email is PST files on your local PC, and you do not want a scenario where some of your email is on a remote PC or device and some is on your main PC, MailRelayer is the solution you have been looking for.
One of the things I particularly like about MailRelayer is that it provides access to all your stored messages, not just new mail. That's what makes it better than simply configuring your smartphone to access your e-mail IMAP server directly (which is what I do currently).

If you're wondering how MailRelayer actually works, the developer offers a terrific plain-English explanation. That's another thing I admire about the product: The site that promotes it is refreshingly easy to understand. (E-mail servers and all that can be tough to wrap your brain around, but reading about MailRelayer is like getting an education .)

The software requires the 32-bit version of Outlook 2003, 2007, or 2010, plus any modern smartphone (support for IMAP is the only real requirement).

MailRelayer costs $39 -- a steal, IMHO -- but there's a 30-day trial available so you can make sure it does what you need it to do.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.