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Often a difficult one, that. 
Email uses two different methods for sending and receiving email.  It receives email using POP (the Post Office Protocol), often now known as POP3.  This is a reasonably secure method requiring login and password, and connects you through to your own provider's email server. 
Sending email is often less secure, and uses SMTP, the Simple Mail Transport Protocol.  In your email program you will need to set the parameters for each method, though often SMTP doesn't need a password and usually by default will connect to the same server as POP.  But you can change it if you want.  It used to be that SMTP servers were shareable and useable by everyone.  I.e. the POP server was definitely the one on your provider's server, but SMTP services on different servers were open to all and sundry.  But that has started to change and some email providers "require" you to be connected to them directly before using their SMTP.

So, the trick is to find an SMTP server that doesn't require you to be connected to their server.  If you can find one, then you can change just this setting in your email setup and Bob's your uncle.  There is a www.smtp.com that provides the service at £2.50 a month but it annoys me to have to pay for a service that should be free with your email account.  I would ask friends who have different email providers for their SMTP address (get it in their email setup) and try it out.  In most cases, it doesn't matter who is using any particular SMTP server.  Normally there is no charge... just like providing red post boxes on the street corner.

Or you could do what I did... buy your own domain name with someone like www.freeparking.co.uk for £5 per year.  For example, go to the above address, make up a domain name like madge.co.uk or whatever and do a search.  If it is available, you can buy it and after 2 days of automated DNS updates this will automatically give you www.madge.co.uk in case you want a web page in the future, and 2 free POP email addresses, one of which could be don@madge.co.uk if you like.  This is your own email server (Sort of! It's really a small corner of freeparking.co.uk) and gives seamless POP and SMTP access from anywhere in the world.  Additionally, you would then automatically have webmail.madge.co.uk which is browser access to your email.

Freeparking also offer a whole lot of extras such as web forwarding.  And if you already have lots of people who know your original email address, just keep it intact and you should have an ability on your provider's pages to "redirect your email", so point your email to don@madge.co.uk.  Except for the domain name registration of £5, this is all free, no gimics.  And for small extra cost you can have 10 email addresses, and lots more.

Of course, you probably wouldn't choose "madge" as your domain, but something more fun and representative.  Remember, this is your domain forever.  And will be your email server and your email address long after you change from your current internet provider to another one.

Hope this helps?

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Can I add my thanks to all contributors - this is fascinating stuff for those of us who don't know a thing about the subject. As they say, it is easy when you know how but some of us need the very simple (x 10) explanations. Roy.
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For information: Hymer offer a very user friendly free webmail service called "myhymer" that operates like Hotmail. Clearly a service for motorhomers, enabling you to send mail wherever you find an internet connection. For those that cant send emails by their usual provider, just collect your emails in the normal way but reply using the MyHymer web account. The easiest way to do this if your connected via your personal computer is to first set up the myhymer account details, as an additional account on Outlook Express and when replying to incoming mail from other servers just ensure you change the "from" boxe's dropdown to "myhymer". To get a free account visit the hymer.com web site and hunt about for a link to this service or go directly to this link.http://www.hymer.com/eu/1124_myhymer.html [When setting up Outlook Express use "mail.myhymer.com" for both "incoming mail" and "outgoing mail" server data ] I find it a very good service and am very grateful for such thoughtfulness on Hymers part
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