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Free e-mail

Nothing like a freebie to get a surfer's attention, and free e-mail services can help avoid hassles if you change providers.

www.MailExcite.com

Getting free mail couldn't be easier and, of all the services I tried, this one's the fastest. Registration was blissfully easy, and I could get in during peak hours. Mail left and arrived in good time. The best bit is the whole thing works through your Web browser, so it won't eat up precious space on your hard disc.

www.hotmail.com

Again, this mail service is browser-based, but it's not quite as slick as Mail Excite. It's much more advertising driven than the others. In addition to the banner ads during your mail reading, it wants to fill your mailbox with other content. I get enough unsolicited e-mail as it is, thank you very much.

www.mailcity.com

It is identical in features and almost identical in look to Mail Excite as it probably is using the same mail server software. It could be using different physical mail servers as I couldn't get in during peak periods.

mail.yahoo.com

This e-mail service is branded as an extension to the quite useful My Yahoo! (my.yahoo.com) personal news page. If you're a new user, it asks you the same demographic questions as setting up my.yahoo.com and if you're an existing user, it already knows about you and makes registration much quicker.

www.iname.com

When you register your iName e-mail account, the other side of the symbol can be myself.com, writeme.com, cyberdude.com, cybergal.com or a bunch of others. While this service can be browser-based for $23.95 per year, the free option forwards e-mail from its mail servers to your existing e-mail account with your ISP or online service provider such as AOL, CompuServe or the Microsoft Network.

_ Compiled by Times correspondent Jules Allen, director of interactive services for Best Software in St. Petersburg. Send suggestions by e-mail to techtimessptimes.com or to P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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