The 5 Best Free Email Providers for 2019
Looking for a new free email address? There are literally hundreds to choose from, but it’s worth sticking to the most popular options that that will be around in years to come. Here’s our rundown of the five most popular providers and the special features each offers. We have included the most notable pros and cons of each service to help you easily choose the one best suited to your needs.
Gmail is currently the most popular free email service around. It’s also one part of a large ecosystem of free and paid Google software services.
Several aspects are different from older free email platforms like AOL, Hotmail/Outlook, and Yahoo Mail. To get the most out of Gmail, you’ll need to spend a little more time getting to know it. However, the time spent is well worth it in terms of boosted productivity. For example, messages can be labelled in Gmail, rather than just placed in different subfolders.
With a Gmail address you will also have access to Google Drive (a cloud storage service), Docs (an online program similar to Microsoft Word), Sheets (comparable to Excel) and Slides (similar to PowerPoint). While each of these may not be as robust as their Microsoft equivalents, they are free and perfectly adequate for most user’s needs.There are also other apps for photos, videos, and instant chat.
You can use the Gmail infrastructure with your own domain email address for a fee. This means you can use one inbox for personal emails on a Gmail address and business emails on another address.
- Gives you access to all the other Google Programs.
- Can be configured with free IMAP and POP access to synch with other devices.
- Excellent for managing multiple email addresses in one inbox.
- If you put in the time to learn how to use Gmail properly it provides a major productivity boost.
- A learning curve if you are used to older webmail services.
- Gmail’s free storage is combined with other Google applications. So, if you have a lot of photos in your drive, you may run out of storage in your inbox.
Outlook is the successor to Hotmail – in fact @hotmail, @msn and @live accounts all now fall under Outlook. Outlook can be a little confusing because outlook.com, the free browser-based email service, and Outlook, the Microsoft email client, are different products. In this case we are talking about the free email service, though one of its biggest selling points is the way it integrates with Outlook and Office 365.
Outlook is a very standard email service and hasn’t actually changed very much over the years. However, it’s very reliable and easy to integrate with mobile apps and other Microsoft products.
Outlook is a safe and reliable choice, though the stand-alone email product doesn’t offer much in terms of new or exciting features.
- Syncs very well with Outlook and the Office 365 ecosystem.
- Also synchs well with mobile devices.
- Not very easy to organize message threads into conversations.
- Simpler layout, especially for those familiar with older email providers.
- The spam filter is clumsy and not easily customizable.
- Outlook is not always the most intuitive option, and Microsoft frequently makes odd changes to the layout.
Yahoo Mail is a legacy free email service, and for a while, was arguably the most popular email platform. However, given Yahoo’s financial troubles in recent years, the company actually sold most of its assets, including Yahoo Mail, to Verizon.
Yahoo Mail remains a core product for Verizon and a number of upgrades have been made over the past few years. The platform remains an option to consider for those users who like a simple product that integrates with social media and instant messaging accounts. In order to regain market share, Yahoo mail now offers a massive 1TB of free storage.
- Yahoo Mail comes with 1TB of storage, by far the most storage for a free email service.
- Compatible with Outlook email client and Gmail’s inbox.
- Excellent, free mobile apps.
- The labeling and folder systems are somewhat limited.
- Spam filter is difficult to customize, though it does have some unique features if you can learn how to use them.
Though most Apple services come at a cost, the company’s iCloud email service is free, even if you don’t use Apple devices. Apple is well known for its slick user interfaces, with its email service being no exception.
iCloud naturally integrates with Apple devices and applications, but also supports IMAP access meaning it can be used with other email clients like Outlook. It can also be accessed using a browser from any device or operating system.
iCloud has a simple, yet functional archiving and filing system. It also has unique feature where you can assign contacts with VIP status to make sure their messages go straight to the top of your inbox.
You only get 5GB of storage for free, but you can increase that up for a fairly low fee. This storage is shared between email, calendars and documents, but doesn’t overlap with other Apple services like music, photos and apps.
iCloud isn’t the most sophisticated email service, but for those who like to keep things simple, it makes a lot of sense.
- Simple, functional interface with good customization options.
- Compatible with Outlook email client.
- Includes Mail Drop to send very large attachments.
- No ads on the web version.
- No POP Support.
- Labelling and folder system is more limited than other services.
- Lowest max attachment size amongst free email services, though Mail Drop can be used to send large files.
AOL mail has been around since the mid-1990s and was actually the world’s most popular email service in 1997. Originally the service was only offered to existing AOL customers, but has since been made available as a free service for anyone. In 2006 AOL mail merged with Netscape Mail, another early email service. Its user base is now dwarfed by the likes of Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook, but still enjoys a loyal following.
AOL mail can be accessed via a browser, but also offers users its own email client. The downside of the AOL service is that it doesn’t integrate well with other service and social media applications. In the days of AOL Instant Messenger, the two services complimented each other very well. Now however AOL mail works best as a free, standalone email service for those that don’t need to integrate other services.
The online only version, AIM Mail, which is what is left of the old AOL Instant Messenger, includes unlimited free storage. This version can only be accessed via browser however.
- Simple, intuitive, and easy to use.
- Messages can be grouped by conversation.
- Supports IMAP and POP protocols for easy syncing with email clients.
- AOL Mail doesn’t have the best folder and labeling system around.
- Doesn’t include all the productivity tools other services offer.
- Can’t create alias accounts.
A New Solution to Spam Email
One of the most common criticisms of all these services are the spam filters, which either don’t work as they are intended, or are difficult to customize. Fortunately, this is not as much of a problem, thanks to new services like BitBounce.
BitBounce is an innovative solution to spam email, which empowers you to monetize your time and attention by charging businesses to send you marketing emails. The free service allows you to whitelist all your contacts so that their messages are delivered directly to your inbox. Unknown senders are asked to verify that you know them or given the opportunity to pay a fee to you to have their message delivered to your inbox.
You get to set the fee, allowing you to put a price on your time and attention, while avoiding unwanted spam.
BitBounce can be used with every email service mentioned here. This means you can focus on the interface, labelling, and other key features that a service provides rather than worrying about each’s spam capabilities.