Free email services remain the center of web activity, driving communication for work and personal use. From social networking update alerts to the sending and receiving of documents, email has truly become a necessity for modern correspondence.
Most of us have been using the same email service for the past decade when multiple companies like Yahoo, Google, and Hotmail first launched such services. But recent developments for email providers indicate an upcoming push towards innovative updates, making this a great time to compare free email services.
In the list below we’ve reviewed over ten of the best free email services ranging from the four major providers to smaller niche/business email services. These are not in any specific order of rankings other than the most popular four are listed at the top and all the others are randomly positioned beneath. We will continue to update this article as new email services become available. Thus, if you believe we’ve left any important free email services out, please leave a comment and we’ll add it to the review.
Gmail – Arguably the best free email services available to date. Gmail is heavily integrated with its Google applications and the Gmail Labs team is constantly adding new features that enhance its service. While newer than most other free email services, Google was an established tech company prior to launching its email service and already had other applications with which it could be integrated. This resolve to provide access to cloud computing through cross-app cooperation gives Gmail a bit of an edge over Hotmail, as Microsoft began its cloud computing initiatives much later than Google.
The easy integration for add-ons and the powerful Google search right in your inbox gives Gmail an advantage over most other free email services. Google is clearly looking to make Gmail a hub for the bulk of users’ web activity, indicating that there will always be something new to check out on Gmail. Security is outstanding on Gmail as the spam filters get rid of most emails we don’t want to see. Import and export options as well as multiple account options means Gmail can be pretty well integrated across the board.
Gmail’s free email service plan currently offers over 7 GB of storage space, an attachment size limit of 20 MB, text messaging, voice chat and video chat, filters, labels, email forwarding, auto responders, POP3/IMAP access, offline access and mobile access, and many more new email features. The Google Labs team ensures that new technologies like Google Android and exciting new features are added frequently to seamlessly integrate with the email service. If you have your own website and you’re dissatisfied with the default email service provided by your domain registrar, you can easily add Google Gmail to your own domain via Google Apps.
Yahoo Mail – Yahoo Mail search is one of the most useful features when it comes to tracking down messages. Automatic filters help you sift through search results, giving one-click access to documents, senders, and more. Yahoo is also looking to make its email service more socially aware to allow you to better connect with other Yahoo users via your email inbox. Connected with many of Yahoo’s other applications, your email persona can be tied with much of your other Yahoo activity which could ultimately spread across the social web. Other tools for speedy organization and inbox skimming have been introduced with recent Yahoo Mail updates giving users more professional ways in which to use Yahoo for their emailing needs.
Yahoo Mail’s free email service accommodates an unlimited amount of storage space, a maximum attachment size of 25 MB, calendar reminders, chat, SMS, birthday reminders, drag and drop functionality, slideshows, mobile phone access, virus protection, SpamGuard, phishing protection, and integration with various apps. If you upgrade to Yahoo Mail Plus ($19.99/year), you’ll gain more filters, get POP access, live customer care, email forwarding, no account expiration, no graphical ads, and AddressGuard. If you want to run Yahoo! Mail on your own domain or business email, Yahoo! Zimbra is available for a fee.
Hotmail – Acquired by Microsoft, it has undergone several updates since it first emerged on the scene. As such, it features integration with other landmark Microsoft products such as Outlook. Security and anti-spam measures ensure that messages are only accepted from known senders. This leaves a good amount of manual management from the user however, as they need to confirm messages from new senders.
Integration with Microsoft products also means that Hotmail is limiting in some senses. Certain features only work with Internet Explorer, or on Windows operating systems. Other limitations include a lack of support for POP and IMAP, though there are workarounds for this if you are dedicated to using Hotmail.
Hotmail’s free email service offers 5 GB of storage space, a 10 MB limit on attachments, chat, calendars, instant messaging via Live Messenger, and much more. Hotmail seemlessly integrates with all of the Windows Live services to add even more functionality. For example, SkyDrive gives you 25 GB of free storage to accommodate your photos and files and share them with your friends. Windows Live Hotmail Plus paid email service ($19.99/year) adds the following: an upgrade to 10 GB of storage, 20 MB file attachments, more custom filters, larger group lists, no risk of account expiration, 250 more safe addresses, mail forwarding, and removal of advertisements.
AOL – This wasn’t always free, but it is now. As a long-standing company in the email business, AOL has a lot of familiarity and experience in dealing with email. Its ability to keep up however, still falls short. On the organization side, AOL could use a little innovation to improve features like folders and labels.
Preventative measures to stop viruses and spammers are adequate. If you’d would rather not give up your long-standing AOL name, support for IMAP and POP means that you can still interact with AOL email content from another email client. This reflects AOL’s larger strategy to merely integrate better with other products and services, as we’ve seen this become a company-wide tactic in dealing with the changing trends.
AOL’s free email service includes unlimited storage, 16 MB file attachment size limit, the ability to create folders and lists, filters, address book, search, auto reply, drag-n-drop functionality, spell checker, IMAP access, calendars, notes, mobile access, multiple language support, games, RSS reader, online support, chat via AIM, customized addresses, plugins, text messaging, and much more. AOL Mail is supported through advertisements but unlike most email services a non-ad supported upgrade isn’t currently available.
Inbox – This is a solid free email service that comes with a lot of features and 5GB of storage space. Security is good but it lacks a phishing filter and access via IMAP is not available. Other features include typical standards such as calendar, notes, and notifications but the service also comes with games and ecards. Unlike most free email services Inbox.com doesn’t display advertisements while viewing your email.
Fastmail – Their free email service is ad-supported, comes with 10MB of storage, a maximum file size of 10MB, and a mail storage quota of 10MB. Their free account doesn’t include email forwarding, POP3 access, and the address book storage is limited to 100 contacts. Upgraded email plans include more storage space, greater access, and no advertisements.
Mail – A free email service that includes unlimited storage space, great security and spam protection, and the ability to access your email messages from your mobile phone. You can choose from over 250 different personal email address domains, customize the look of your inbox with various skins as well add email apps. The free email plan also comes with a calendar, address book, and online chat interface but does not offer IMAP or POP3 access. Paid email plans offer more features and access minus the hassle of annoying advertisements. If you noticed in the image at the top of this article Dora Mail was to be reviewed but DoraMail.com now redirects to Mail.com.
Lycos Mail – Used to be a free email service provider but now charges $19.95 per year to give users 5GB of storage, POP3 and IMAP access, spam filtering, and anti-virus support. Other notable features include domain and address blocking abilities and no ads.
Care2 – An environmentally conscious business that provides free email service as well as other things. Care2 donates 5% of its earnings to various nonprofit organizations. Their free email plan comes with 5GB of storage space, 10MB maximum file size for attachments, anti-spam and anti-virus filters, POP3 access, auto-replies, spell-check, address book for contacts, and personalized webmail names.
Zenbe – A next generation email service that integrates the social web and collaboration tools to take plain old email to the next level. They offer a 30-day free trial for all email service plans and access to their ShareFlow collaboration service that allows you to connect and share files and comments with your team. Zenbe Mail comes with calendars, Postini spam and virus protection, and it allows you to use your own domain.
GMX – Another free email service pushing the envelope of innovation to improve stale email. GMX Mail features include drag & drop functionality, a modern design, the ability to manage all your email accounts (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) in one place, track personal appointments, and create reminders. You can access your GMX email account via POP3/IMAP access, your web browser, or mobile phone. Security and spam protection is exceptional and GMX prides itself on not scanning your emails for advertising purposes unlike others do. The GMX free email service comes with 5GB of email storage and a maximum attachment size of 50MB.
Gawab – Provides free email services that include POP and IMAP access, 10GB of storage, virus protection, email forwarding, filters and folders, drag and drop functionality, contact manager, and a max email attachment size of 50MB. The main disadvantages of their free plan includes account expiration and advertisements. If you upgrade to one of their paid email plans you can avoid the advertisements, prevent your account from expiring, and get SMS notifications.If you liked this article, please take this time to share it with your Facebook friends using the Facebook button (see Facebook post button to the left) or retweet it using Twitter (see retweet button to the left). You may also want to follow us or subscribe to the site to stay up-to-date with this article. If you'd rather follow us from your Facebook account, join our Facebook fan page or subscribe to our NetworkedBlogs profile.
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