Look beyond Gmail

Tags: Knowledge
A Gmail account is more or less ubiquitous these days. And, indeed, with good reason—with storage space of up to 15 GB for free, portability across virtually any device capable of accessing the Net, POP3 and IMAP protocols, integration of chat, calendar and other services, various plug-ins in the form for Google Labs, and so on, Gmail ends up being much more than just a receptacle to store email. But that’s no reason not to check out some worthy competition.

Yahoo Mail

After Gmail and Outlook (earlier Hotmail), Yahoo was the most popular free mail service provider of choice by the end of 2012, say independent figures. Yahoo Mail has been around for longer than Gmail, but for the longest time didn’t have some of the features that won over Gmail enthusiasts. At present, though, a conversation view and an intuitive—though sometimes buggy—Ajax-based interface, among other features, makes Yahoo a very decent webmail option.

Yahoo’s 1TB email storage is quite generous compared to some other webmail providers, and it also provides free IMAP and POP access (though third-party apps like YPops! may be needed). Yahoo Mail also has Facebook and chat integration, and a special “large attachments” features allows file attachments of up to 100 MB. There are email filters, contact management, calendar, notepad, anti-virus filters , and the ability to add other emails in a single Yahoo account. Yahoo Mail’s free version is ad-supported, but you can buy premium features, such as getting rid of ads or getting unlimited space.

Microsoft Outlook

Outlook.com is the new avatar of Hotmail. On its part, Hotmail was a trailblazer in being one of the first Web-based email services, but it has come a long way from there to Outlook. You can sign in to your Outlook account using your Microsoft account—and can also add other accounts (known as email aliases). It integrates with SkyDrive, Calendar and Office Web Apps. It can integrate with Skype, Linkedin and Facebook as well. Outlook provides “virtually unlimited” storage space, plus a slew of organisational tools, optional reading and conversation views, POP access and more. It also doesn’t display targeted ads based on email content. For those of us who moved away from Hotmail dissatisfied all those years ago, a new look at Outlook is very much warranted.


GMX Mail is one that we may not have heard about, but it has some surprisingly interesting features. Like the others, it is free and ad-supported, but has a feature called Mail Collector that lets you manage all your email accounts from a central location. It has unlimited mail storage, 1 GB file storage space, POP/IMAP, and various productivity tools like an address book and organiser.


Mail.com perhaps lags in the race to the top spots since it doesn’t offer an interface as slick as the big webmail providers, but it is still an option worth considering. You can sign up for a @mail.com ID or choose from about 200 other domain options, including those related to jobs, hobbies, places and so on. You can also have your other mail delivered here. The free (ad-supported) webmail service gives you unlimited mail storage plus 2 GB cloud storage for files. There is a built-in organiser as well. Mail.com is a solid email provider if you’re not looking for bells and whistles such as social media integration.

There are dozens of others, such as Rediffmail with free unlimited storage, and Hushmail with PGP encryption (but only 25 MB free space), among others. But remember that “free” means “ad-supported”, almost without exception, and in some cases the ads may be based on your email content. Those who need more privacy might want to consider upgrading to a premium service, but that will have to be a subject for another day.

(The author is a freelance

technology writer)

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