In the modern world, almost everyone has an email address. In fact, a lot of aspects of society, especially when it comes to technology, basically require you to have one. For instance, you can’t have a Facebook without an email address, and most business communication these days is done through email instead of over the phone. Basically, if you’re looking to stay connected to the world, you’re going to need an email address. Luckily, getting an email address is incredibly quick and easy, not to mention free. If you need a free email address, you’re going to want to stick mainly to the big 3, which are Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook.
Gmail is undoubtedly the biggest and best free email service on the market today. Owned by Google, which is connected to basically everything on the internet, Gmail gives you 15Gb of free email storage and offers some of the best security that you’ll ever need when it comes to your email. Security features include HTTPS, phishing and malware protection and an excellent anti-spam shield. In fact, the service is smart enough to compartmentalize emails for you by blocking spam and then sorting everything else into “Primary,” “Social” and “Promotional” tabs.
When it comes to productivity, Gmail can’t be beat. It is connected to Google Drive, which allows you to send attachments of up to 10Gb and work simultaneously with other people on the same project. In order to download apps on your Android phone, you have to have a Gmail address anyway, so there really is no downside to this free email service.
One of the original big free email services, Yahoo blows Gmail’s storage out of the water by offering 1Tb (1000Gb) of space for your emails. Yahoo messenger is just about the only IM service still being used, and it’s integrated right into Yahoo mail for your convenience. The anti-spam features are also quite excellent, and Yahoo’s integration with Flickr makes sharing photos with friends quick and easy. Unlike Gmail, you can pay $5 a month to get rid of the sidebar ads on your page (though this kind of disqualifies Yahoo from being “free.”
Aside from storage, the one other area that Yahoo shines is in organization. Gmail’s methods are very streamlined and simple, which is fine for most users but may be underwhelming for someone receiving mass amounts of important emails every day and no way to organize them exactly how they want to. Yahoo lets you set up a massive variety of folders that are easily accessible and navigable, and you’re free to label and organize them however you like.
Formerly known as Hotmail, Outlook is the most popular email service for businesses. Since it is owned and run by Microsoft, one of its biggest features is that fact that it integrates so well with Microsoft Office and other services like Skype. Rather than limiting your storage, Outlook gives you near unlimited space for your your emails and data, and its security is top-notch. Organization is almost as good as Gmail, although Outlook uses folders to help you manage your stream of emails. One useful feature known as “clutter” sifts through your inbox and removes everything not deemed important, storing them in a separate clutter folder.
The Rules function comes in handy, as well. When you read an email, you can assign “Rules” to it that will then filter any future emails like it. To top it all off, Outlook features a number of add-ins that can customize your email experience even further. One that I find particularly useful is the “Boomerang” add-in, which lets you ignore an email for now but will bring it back to your attention a few days later. This is helpful when you don’t have the information or time to reply to an email right away but don’t want to forget about the message, either.