This article was written in 2009 and remains one of our most popular posts. If you’re keen to learn more about email signatures, you may find this recent article of great interest.
It’s hard to believe, but there are still people out there paying for email services. Luckily, there is a wide selection of free Web-based email applications these days that can help cut your email costs. We’ve gathered up 10 of the best ones so that you can get to emailing right away.
AOL Mail: Yes, AOL is still operating, surprising as that may seem to some. As opposed to the old days, the service is now completely free, and you no longer need their proprietary software client to access your mail, so it is a viable solution for Web workers. The interface features integrated AIM chat, unlimited storage, 16 MB file attachments, and supports both IMAP and POP3. It does, however, place ads in the signature area of emails.
FastMail: FastMail.FM offers several different levels of user accounts, but only the Guest level is free. It is very limited in some of its settings in that it only offers IMAP access beyond the Web interface, and 10 MB of storage with only 80 MB of transfer per month. Upgrading runs anywhere from $4.95 to $34.95 annually, depending on the level of account you want. The service offers a wide selection of domain names for you to choose from as your email address.
Gawab: Gawab is based out of Egypt, and its name is a phonetic spelling of the Arabic word for “letter.” The service offers 10 GB of storage, IMAP & POP3, 50 MB email attachments, delivery confirmation and more. The inbox is AJAX-based, and they also offer free SMS text messaging from inside of your account to various countries.
Gmail: Even though Gmail is not the biggest webmail service in terms of subscribers, it is about the only one anyone seems to discuss with any regularity. Google’s mail application offers 7.5 GB of storage, support for 25 MB attachments, support for multiple external mail protocols (IMAP, POP, POP+TLS, Microsoft Exchange), integrated Google Talk and it does filter out .EXEs from attachments including inside of .ZIP files.
GMX: GMX started off as a European mail service, and after acquiring 11 million users they opened up a branch in the United States. The service allows you to have up to 10 email address that all get delivered to the same inbox that has over 5 GB of storage. They also offer IMAP, POP3 and mobile access to your account, attachments up to 50 MB in size, and a service called Mail Collector that will bring all of your emails from various services to one account to make it easy to check your various addresses.
Inbox: Inbox.com offers three plans with the basic free one offering 5 GB of storage, 90 days of inactivity account protection, SMTP and POP3 access, an online photo gallery and more.
Lavabit: Lavabit offers two different levels of free service that offer varying size limits, but both offer a limit of 1,024 incoming messages a day and 256 outgoing. Oddly, neither of the account levels offer statistical spam filtering, so you might have some problems there.
Mail.com: Mail.com offers an unusual twist in that they offer numerous domain names for you to choose from including things like mail.com, email.com, techie.com, lawyer.com, and many, many more. The free version of the account lacks SMTP or POP3 functionality and only two months of account inactivity protection. Storage clocks in at 3 GB.
Windows Live Hotmail: Possibly the winner for the longest name as Microsoft just keeps adding words to it, Hotmail is one of the oldest players in the webmail space. The free basic account includes ads, but an annual subscription of $19.95 will remove those. Hotmail offers an initial storage of 5 GB, attachment limits of 10 MB, and POP3 support. There is the drawback of your account being closed after 270 days of inactivity, as well as having support issues with Safari.
Yahoo! Mail: Yahoo! Mail has been around for a long time, and probably took the most serious hit from Gmail’s arrival. In an attempt to fight off the upstart, Yahoo! now offers unlimited mail for its free accounts, and will remove ads with a $19.99 per year subscription. Attachments are allowed to be up to 25 MB, and the service provides YIM Chat support, POP3 support and numerous applications for the platform that now provide additional functionality to the interface.
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