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While it is downloading your email, put your time to good use and set up a new Hotmail or Gmail account. You can of course use another service, or create your own domain and run it in the cloud -- or set up your own private system at home. You may already have an account for which you can use this also.
As long as you have somewhere else (another email address -- old or new) to move your old email items, then you are good to go.
To read more on this gallery, visit the iGeneration column, where you can read more about migrating your email to Hotmail or Gmail.