We went out looking for the best free email services and came up with three that leave the rest in the dust.
There are three world leaders, all of them tried, tested and secure. You will know their names for sure.
Pick the one that suits your own personal or business needs.
So what do you look for when choosing which free email service to use?
Tip: Choose one service and keep it as your one email address. This saves you having to sign in an out of accounts. Also you will get to know the ins and outs of your service well, allowing you to work quickly and efficiently.
What the Best Free Email Services Offer
The main reason for having an email account is so you can communicate instantly with friends, family, business associates and colleagues.
But a personal email account is also essential for logging into many online services including social media networks, online stores and banks.
Most of the free email services provide additional features to attract users, including
- address books
- search functions
- the ability to add your personal signature
- video chat
- social media feeds, and
- free instant messaging apps so that you can use email on a smartphone.
Of course they all have composition tools, but those of the best free email services are better than others, for instance a spell check is invaluable, and it’s nice to be able to choose which font and tab (or indentation) setting to use.
Attachment size limitations are important too, especially if you often use email to send high quality photographs or video clips.
Storage is another important factor, unless you don’t archive many of your emails. Certainly if you use email for any form of business, a decent sized archival system can be a boon. The best free email services have lots of free storage space.
Privacy and Security
You might think that you are of no interest to cybercriminals, but consider how much sensitive data may potentially passes through you email box every day.
Things like bank statements and bank account numbers, tax returns, social security data and so on can be at risk if security isn’t good.
Spam emails are another reality of life, and the best free email services help their customer filter out spam and phishing emails quickly and easily.Secure login facilities encrypt email passwords and protect them from abuse, while image blocking and automatic download restrictions help to prevent images with viruses being downloaded.
Of course help and support is also important, because when things go wrong (which is inevitable even with the very best online and email services) you want your problems to be sorted out quickly and efficiently.
The Leading Free Email Services
Online reviews of the current available free email services show the industry leaders to be Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo Mail.
Launched to the public in 2007, Gmail is Google’s email service. Available in 72 languages, it currently has more than 1 billion users.
While the basic plan is free, paid Gmail plans offer additional services, including the ability to increase storage up to 30 TB. No device or email program is required to access Gmail.
Originally launched as Hotmail in 1996, and purchased by Microsoft the following year, Outlook.com is available in 106 languages.
Relaunched by Microsoft as Outlook.com mid-2012, as of 2014 the free email service reportedly had between 500 and 600 million users – at a time when more than 1.1 billion people were using Microsoft Office.
Launched in 1997, and upgraded along the way, Yahoo Mail boasted at least 273 million users in 2014.
In addition to the free email service offered, Yahoo Mail has a paid business plan.
Comparison of Gmail, Outlook.com and Yahoo Mail
To compare the three leading free email service providers, we studied several published reviews and decided to look at what each of them offers in terms of:
- Composition tools
- Help and support
Features Including Storage
While Outlook.com offers unlimited inbox storage, Yahoo Mail offers 1 TB and Gmail only 15 GB.
All three services offer a wealth of features including an address book and calendar, search function, the ability to create folders, add a personal signature, use instant messaging and create custom themes, as well as external mail collection and a mobile app. In addition, they all offer both POP and IMAP support.
Both Gmail and Outlook.com incorporate video chat and allow social media feeds. Gmail and Yahoo Mail both allow aliases, while only Yahoo Mail has an RSS Reader facility.
It’s not just about quantity (in terms of storage), on an overall score of 10, Gmail rates 9.38 compared to Outlook.com 9.15 and Yahoo Mail 8.75.
There is not much competition between the composition tools provided by these three free email service providers. They all have a plain text composer, rich text editor, spell check, conversation view and the ability to view attachments, as well as a pop-out window. Only Yahoo Mail does not provide an auto replay.
All three peg the maximum size of attachments at 25 MG, although Yahoo Mail has an Attach Large Files app that enables users to send attachments up to 100 MB.
Top marks for both Gmail and Outlook.com, with Yahoo Mail lagging with an 8.75 score.
All three of these email services have good security features including secure sign-in, virus scanning, a phishing filter and image blocking, as well as a spam filter. They all report spam, restrict automatic downloads, and offer account recovery.
Only Gmail has a “suspicious activity” check.
All three of the email services have historically had security issues. While still functioning as Hotmail, in 1999 the now Outlook.com was the victim of what was called the “most widespread security incident in the history of the Web,” when hackers infiltrated the service and exposed millions of accounts. In its Hotmail guise, it was frequently also used by spammers. Yahoo Mail was exposed to a major spam and phishing attack in New Zealand in 2013, and it has also had its fair share of hacking problems both real and threatened.
Gmail’s worst security issues seem to have been around 2007, but there was little impact. Now if there is suspicious activity in an account it can be subject to a lockdown that could last as long as 24 hours.
Gmail rates 10 out of 10 for security with the other two email services only a little behind with scores of 9.38.
Help and Support
When it comes to help and support, you will find there are active forums where users share their experiences and help each other solve problems for the specific services. All three also have their own frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages that give advice and offers solutions. Both Gmail and Outlook.com have help and support specifically for email.
Another full score (10) for Gmail and Outlook.com, with Yahoo Mail lagging down the ladder with only 7.50
So clearly Gmail is the winner!
Ultimately one of the most telling factors in this comparison is the number of users each of the three top free email services has – with Gmail leading the pack by a long way (more than 1 billion). In our view it is the winner of the Best Free Email Services conest.
In other words, even without the reviews, its popularity shows that Gmail really is the superior free email service overall.
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