PC Doctor December 30, 2016

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Dear PC Doctor:

My sister lives in another town and she wants to e-mail with me.  I don’t have a computer or phone.  I’ve never had e-mail.  Is it hard?  What does it cost?  How do I do it?


Thank you,


Dear Ben:

That’s great that your sister wants to be in touch!  E-mail can seem confusing at first but, once you get used to things, it will not be hard.

First, email can be free or e-mail can cost money.  You can sign up to have internet service in your home, which costs money, and you can set up an e-mail account with a provider.  The benefits of this method include being able to use your e-mail from home and not having any advertisements added to your outgoing messages.  Free e-mail providers are also up front about the fact that they use automated services to trawl your messages and then offer you targeted advertising, etc.  Free providers also sometimes sell their mailing lists and other information. 

However, if you just want to try out e-mail and see if you like it, free services are an easy way to go.  There are many companies you can use:  Gmail, yahoo, outlook, mail.com – and there are more!

To get started, go somewhere where you can use an internet connected computer.  Do you have a friend who has internet?  You can also go to your public library.  Staff there will be happy to help you set up an account.  If you call the Athol Library, you can make an appointment to have someone walk you through the steps.  Be sure to bring a notebook so you can write down instructions and your password!  Depending on your comfort and skill level, it may take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to complete. 

If you decide you like using e-mail, you may want to invest in a device you can use – a laptop, tablet, etc.  Then, you will be able to check your e-mail anywhere that has wifi.  Many public places provide it now, including restaurants, museums, and, of course, the library!

I hope this helps!
Until next time,
Happy computing!

   PC Doctor