Personally, I am happy to give my entire online existence over to Google. They have my email, my Analytics data, my search history, my mobile device, my credit card information, and the list goes on. Some people may not feel that this is the smartest thing to do, and I don’t blame them. Those same people may still want to reap the benefits of web mail (in contrast to plain old desktop email, powered by Thunderbird and its ilk).
Free Email Providers
So I’ve gathered up a list of several popular free email providers that you might want to take for a spin if Gmail or Yahoo are not your thing.
Microsoft’s webmail offering underwent a somewhat similar cycle to its Web browser: Like Internet Explorer, Hotmail used to be a dominant force in webmail. Then Gmail came along, and Hotmail lost its spot in the limelight. But just like Microsoft didn’t give up on Internet Explorer and kept working on it until they had something great with IE10, so they persisted with their webmail offering, until today we have Outlook.com.
This thoroughly modern webmail service gives Gmail a serious fight in terms of polish and features. Unlike Gmail, Outlook.com doesn’t scan the contents of your email in an attempt to target ads to your messages. It’s also tightly integrated with Office Web Apps, and uses the service to let you view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint attachments. Its “sweep” feature lets you file away scads of email at once, keeping your inbox neat and tidy.
Even if you’re perfectly happy with your current webmail provider, Outlook.com is well worth a look. With tens of millions of active users, Microsoft seems to be doing something right.
If you feel that your email domain name is the most important part of the address, you should definitely check out Mail.com. Its default domain name (@mail.com) is cool enough, and is even one letter shorter than you-know-who. But if you’re looking for something more specific, Mail.com offers an enormous list of alternative domains for you to pick from, such as “Engineer.com”, “Muslim.com“, and even “Secretary.net“.
It also boasts unlimited email storage, drag-and-drop labels, and more.
Yandex is primarily known as the leading search engine in Russia (where it’s more popular than Google), but it also operates a free webmail service, Yandex Mail. While the service’s native tongue is Russian, it is also offered in an English version. Yandex Mail includes features you won’t find on Gmail, including an automated follow-up feature that will remind you if you haven’t received a reply to your email within five days. This is an invaluable feature that’s long overdue on Gmail, so it’s nice to see Yandex stepping up to the challenge and surpassing Gmail on this front.
The service also includes a built-in option for deferred sending, so you can compose an email and schedule it to be send later on. Both of these features can be added to Gmail using external add-on services like Boomerang, but these cost money.
Another nice Yandex feature is that it lets you use your Google account for authentication, so you don’t have to remember another password to log into your email provider.
Hushmail is a bit more of an esoteric service. Their main claim to fame is that fact they provide “private, secure” free email accounts. Why the quote marks, you ask? Because Hushmail (quite famously) betrayed user trust in 2007 by providing email correspondence to federal agencies, complying to a Canadian court order. You can read a complete analysis of the incident in Wired’s Threat Level column of the time.
In brief, what you should know is that Hushmail’s mechanisms are not completely secure, although they are still significantly more secure than those offered by other free email providers. Conversely, their free option only includes a paltry 25MB of storage – a far cry from the unlimited space offered by some of the other vendors on the list.
If privacy is a key concern for you, check out Hushmail, but don’t blindly trust them. Configure your own settings, and don’t give them your encryption key at any stage of the process.
Zoho makes a complete suite of online productivity tools, including a spreadsheet, a Wiki service, and more. Zoho Mail is their free email offering, and it looks quite spiffy. If you already use Zoho, that means you have a Zoho Mail account. One of its distinctive feature is that it is 100% ad free – not a single banner in sight.
Did I miss an important free email provider? Are you using an unknown provider that is absolutely awesome, and are dying to tell the world about it? Share it all in the comments!
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