Although some people might think that with the growing popularity of social networks, the e-mail era is coming to an end, this service is very valuable for millions of individuals around the world. And many more are starting to use it to communicate with their friends. Its simplicity and speed are very useful for daily tasks and personally, I believe mail is here to stay for a very long time. But when it comes the time to decide which email provider many people ask themselves the same question: which is the best free email service? Today I’m going to review the 5 most popular ones to determine which is the best according to their functionality and their interface.
The popular alternative from Google is a very well organized service combined with some interesting features that turn Gmail into an attractive option. The best from this service is its simplicity: you can order all of your mail using tags, search them with the built-in engine and keep all of your mail conversations in the same message. Other features include growing storage space, integrated chat and IMAP or POP support for accessing the service through any mail program.
Clean and simple interface. Numerous filters for fast searching. Speedy operation. Integration with other Google services. Expandable storage space.
Doesn’t support encrypted mail. Searching isn’t as good as in Google’s search engine.
Windows Live Hotmail
Hotmail made itself a bad reputation based on a slow performance, limited storage space and functionality issues. But all of this can be forgotten when using Windows Live Hotmail: a more organized interface, almost unlimited storage space for your messages and the possibility to assemble rich mails are just a few of its features. Additionally, Windows Live Hotmail tries to put the security first with a series of spam filters and notification advices, although it doesn’t always succeed.
More organized interface. The service allows you to send mails up to 10GB each. POP support and fluent integration with Microsoft Outlook.
Lack of more organizing elements for faster searches. No IMAP support. Poor integration with other services.
This another free mail service that provides unlimited storage space for all of its users. But that’s not the only (or its most remarkable feature): Yahoo! Mail lets you organize your messages with the use of folders (although they aren’t smart); it integrates with Facebook and Windows Live for keeping in touch with all of your friends in the Web; and it has wonderfully simple keyboard shortcuts for a speedier experience.
Combination of email, instant messaging, SMS text and social networking all in one platform. Easy-to-use interface. Unlimited storage space.
Very imprecise spam filter. No smart folders and no possibility to apply multiple tags to messages. No IMAP support. Slow mail delivery.
Zoho mail is a free email service that is very much like Gmail but with some differences. Like the Google platform, it offers unlimited storage space, tagging, POP and IMAP support, chat and integration with Google Docs. Unlike Gmail, Zoho Mail doesn’t display focused ads, which is a relief in this ad-contaminated Web of ours.
No ads. Labels let you organize your messages more efficiently. IMAP and POP support for quick access through desktop programs. Potent search engine.
No self-learning folders. Crowded interface in certain menus. Imprecise spam filter. Integration with Google Docs presents some issues.
GMX Mail is a humble alternative that sports some interesting features but lacks certain key characteristics. Among the functions that can be highlighted you’ll find a rich web interface, the possibility to retrieve mails from other accounts, a very precise self-learning spam filter and powerful built-in virus scans. It does offer a limited storage space, though, and it doesn’t include labels either.
Rich interface with drag and drop support. You can read messages from your other e-mail accounts. POP and IMAP support.
Hard keyboard shortcuts. No labels. Finding an specific message can be pretty annoying. Storage space limited to 5GB.
As you can see, there’s no such thing as the perfect free mail service. Most of them share certain restrictions, especially in the spam and search department. But if I’m to pick the best email service, then I’ve got to say Gmail. This choice doesn’t mean the other alternatives are bad but Gmail has been leading the way for quite a while now and it included the simplicity and the integration with other services we all want. Besides, it’s constantly expanding its features to provide us with a better service. What do you think? Which is the best free mail service?
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