Software

Configuring your mobile E-mail for an overseas trip

Blogger Paul Mah gives some suggestions on how to configure your push-mail enabled Smartphone in order to minimize data usage when on an overseas trip.

Going on an overseas business trip? An excellent way to stay in the loop when traveling is to tap into the world of mobile E-mail and have new E-mails instantly pushed to your Smartphone.

With overseas data rates at a premium, what are some settings or adjustments that you can make in order to minimize your mobile bill? I recently came back from a trip Down Under myself, and here is a list of what I did.

  • Unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters
This is especially pertinent when going for a longer trip. While it is entirely plausible that these newsletters are actually useful, the chances dip next to zero when you're vacationing or when you have an intense schedule. Why fret over overseas data charges when you can simply eliminate the bulk of your E-mails in the first place? So unsubscribe from those unnecessary newsletters now, and be merciless about it.
  • Have a proper spam filtering in place
Not only does it waste your time, but spam pushed to you via mobile E-mail consumes precious data bits. So it makes sense to have a robust server-side spam filter in place. I personally tap on Gmail as my spam filter. What about you?
  • Disable HTML E-mail
This one is a real killer. Those beautiful HTML-ed E-mails easily cost you many more times the data compared to plain text ones, and it's worse if they contain embedded pictures. The major platforms such as Windows Mobile and BlackBerry smartphones allow you to select Plain Text directly from your mobile device, so be sure to do that before you even board the plane.
  • Limit the length of message downloaded
This is useful when dealing with organizations that insist on tacking on multiple legal disclaimers to every E-mail they send, especially if it is done at the server. After a few rounds of replies, it is not unusual to have E-mails with only one or two lines of useful text and maybe half a dozen repeated disclaimers.

By default, BlackBerry devices download only the first chunk of new E-mails. However, BlackBerry users will want to disable Auto More from Options within the Message applet. This will ensure that the rest of the E-mail is not automatically downloaded upon opening the E-mail.

Windows Mobile users have more options available under their ActiveSync Email Settings, and depending on whether HTML E-mail is disabled, have various selections ranging from 0.5 KB to 50 KB or the entire message.

  • Download headers only

Sure, this is an extreme measure, but it will probably come in useful if you find yourself getting a sudden large influx of E-mails — from the exhibitors of the trade show you are attending, for example. Based on the sender and the content of the E-mail headers, you can decide whether or not to download the rest of the E-mail.

BlackBerry users on BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) can configure a filter to this effect on the BIS configuration page. Window Mobile users can do this by choosing Headers Only from the ActiveSync Email Settings.

I hope that the above tips will help you the next time you travel. In the meantime, feel free to share any suggestions that you may have on configuring your mobile E-mail for an overseas trip.

About Paul Mah

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox