Email, e-mail or Electronic Mail has been around for decades and has evolved from it’s humbling beginnings that pre-date the internet. Starting with the AUTODIN network that provided service between 1,350 terminals supported by 18 switches. Initially email was exchanged on the ARPANET in extensions to FTP (File Transfer Protocol) but are now delivered via SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) and other protocols like POP3 (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol).
What we have today are HTML Email, like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail. While those may be the names that come to mind the moment someone thinks of email there are many other services out there. Today we will go over some of them to offer you an unbiased means to choose a service that works for you. We went over 5 services for you and here they are, we also included a comparison at the end for easier decision-making. Keep in mind that each service will fit differently for each person’s needs so while Gmail is best for me, it may not be best for you. Keep in mind we won’t be touching on every single feature, just what stands out.
Gmail is at the top of the game as the email service also comes with a host of bells and whistles thanks to Google’s integration program. Google Hangouts is one of it’s top features as it allows you to video chat with up to 9 people as long as they have it installed on their computer as well, you can also make phone calls and send instant messages right from your inbox. To take your mail with you, there is an iOS and Android client. As far as customizations, Gmail also comes ready with a host of themes for you to make your account yours, you can also create filters, labels, assign colors to your messages and more. One pitfall is that they killed off their RSS reader. You do however get 10GB of inbox storage with a max attachment size of 20MB and an additional 5GB cloud storage using Google Drive for free; the benefit with Drive? You now have Google Docs fully integrated so you can edit your existing documents and create new ones right inside your Google account. The service is also available in a host of languages.
My favorite feature of Gmail is the conversation interface, no longer do you have to track emails you’ve sent to a person on a topic because google sets up your back and firths as an actual conversation and if you have a contact picture it shows in the conversation as well. Filters is another one of my favorite features, you can create folders and filters to further customize how your email account functions. Let’s say for example, you sign up to receive emails from your favorite site, you can create a filter that automatically assigns all those messages to a certain folder. You can also set importance, you can star messages and with filters you can auto delete or forward messages.
As for security, Gmail is the ultimate. The serve includes spam, virus and phasing protection built-in that automatically scans your messages for you. Messages that fit known criteria are flagged with a big red banner at the top, messages know as spam are filtered into the spam folder where you can check for false positives. Together with that, you can report messages that get past the auto filters so they get filtered next time something similar comes in. In addition automatic downloads are restricted just in case an infected email is opened, we all know we never do that right? 😉 They also use HTTPS to secure your email from wondering eyes and snoopers with the same technology banks use for their connections.
Outlook.com, formerly hotmail.com has grown up to an actual email service as far as I’m concerned. Opening an account give you unlimited inbox storage right out of the box with an additional 7GB of cloud storage via Skydrive and an allowed attachment size up to 300MB. With outlook.com you can add other email accounts and send messages from those accounts directly from your outlook sign in, eliminating the need to sign out and into another account to send from it. Outlook allows you to link your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter Accounts so you can follow feeds and message your friends. Similar to Google, they offer Office 365 bundled with Skydrive. As well you can create filters to manage your mail. Following suite with Gmail, the once huge distracting ads of the past are gone and you now get a thin bar on the right with neutral text only ads. One feature that caught my attention was the unsubscribe button that lets you automatically send a notice to newsletters; you know those sites you sign up for something and they offer you to subscribe and sometimes they are discreet about it and it get’s by. 🙂
Yahoo is one of the oldest services around and has had time to mature nicely, while they have done that; in out opinion the have missed some things and have had to play catch up for the most part. One of the first things that got me was the ability to use your Google or Facebook account to sign into Yahoo which eliminates one extra password you have to remember; however if your account is hacked so is your Facebook or google account. One added bonus to Yahoo is that their main page also gives you access to other things, like news, weather, games and more. They do have a mobile app that features messenger, games and more. As with Gmail and Outlook, you have access to mail filters that allows you to organize your messages as well as spam and antivirus filters for your security. Yahoo has teamed up with Norton for anti-virus
Mail.com is basic but has features worthy of mentioning. Your home page is filled with news from around the world covering a range of topics. They filter known spammers and phishers and they also offer the ability to customize filters. One nice thing about this service is that it allows you more options for your domain (firstname.lastname@example.org), they have over 200 choices including @techie.com, madonnafan.com, myself.com and @doglover.com. Another great feature they offer is mail collector, their way of converging your other accounts into your mail.com account from which you can send and receive mail.
While Zoho is primarily a business mail service they do have a free personal mail service. The problem is that the option is hidden good, you will find it on the second or third step. Once you have signed up tho they offer a clean interface with no ads, none. The only draw back is that the additional features are only for paying customers which is understandable.
Lycos went from being one of the largest search engines to a lesser used engine after Google but the are still around and one of their offerings is email. They provide service similar to other big names and their interface is easy to use. Of note is that there is no POP support nor is there a mobile app; there is also no social media integration or chat features.
Hushmail touts themselves on their security and they are secure but they lack in features that other services offer. You do have the ability to create list of allowed senders and blocked senders. They do offer POP access which allows you to access your email from other services like from the email app on your phone, however, they do not have their own mail app tho you can use their mobile site. Where they falter is that they do not have a spell checker nor a markup editor, both of which have become fundamental features.
Now for the feature comparison chart….
|Inbox Storage (GB)||10||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||5||3||25 MB|
|Max Attachment Size (MB)||20||300||10||50||10||10||10|
|Plain Text Composer||*||*||*||*||*||*||*|
|External Mail Collection||*||*||*||*||*|
|Social Media Feeds||*|
In house we use Gmail because of the features it offers; but while we make recommendations, keep in mind that the choice you make should be the one that fits your needs best. For example:
- if you must have video chat, then Gmail should be your choice
- if social media is important, then Outlook.com should be your choice.
If you found this article informative, please share and remember to leave a comment below with your thoughts. Also, leave us a note about your email service of choice, why do you use it?