Most of the people on the planet use the email accounts that come with their internet provider service for their personal email. These are included in the price of the service, so most people just use them because they don’t know any better. I’d guess that outside of such services as AOL, WebTV and the like, virtually everyone just uses an email client such as Outlook Express and their ISP’s included email accounts.
When I began on the internet, I simply used my AOL account to collect my email. It was simple (far simpler than just about anything else, actually) because is was included with the AOL package. Once you set up AOL there was no configuration of any kind. You just used the email browser and you were all set.
After I moved to Pacbell, I simply began using the Pacbell email account that was provided as part of the service. It’s simple, after all, and better yet, it doesn’t cost anything at all.
Later, like many people, I learned about services such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail and Excite mail. I got very excited, because these services solved several problems for me.
First and most importantly, by using my Hotmail account I could receive and send email from everywhere that had web access. While in theory I could do the same with my Pacbell account, it was a hassle. Hotmail neatly solved that problem. True, the web interface was no where near as nice as that provided by Outlook Express, but it was usable and convenient.
On top of that, as I began promoting my own web sites, I found that there are good reasons not to use your own private email account. I learned the hard way, of course, by submitting my site to one of those FFA services and using my own personal email account address. I must have received 10,000 emails in a period of a couple of hours! All junk (the reason FFA lists exist is in exchange for a link the list owner gets to send you one or more promotional email messages) and most even downright silly. Years later I was still getting an occasional email message as a result of that one mistake.
The next time I submitted to an FFA list (before I learned how silly these things are) I got a little smarter and opened a Hotmail account. All of the email messages were directed to that mailbox, which I deleted a few days later. This saved me from getting tons of spam and wading through an incredible number of absolutely useless junk.
The final problem was anonymity. There are times on the internet when not giving out one’s personal email address is a good idea. I found the email boxes at Mail.Com were perfect for this purpose. It requires only a few minutes to create a mailbox which is more-or-less untraceable. While I have not had any real use for this kind of anonymity, I mention it because it is one major reason some people use free email accounts.
Ah, but there are some disadvantages to using free email accounts. First off, the ISP based email account’s major disadvantage is simply that it is linked to your ISP. If you move or change ISP’s, then you have to change your email address. This means changing every newsletter that you receive, every product update, notifying every friend and other person who sends you email, and so forth. Believe me it is a major hassle to change an email address.
I know this, because I recently changed from my Pacbell account to a personal mailbox which I purchased from everyone.net. It took me over two months to notify everyone of the change, and I’m sure I missed a few on the way.
The free web based email accounts do not have that disadvantage (unless, of course, the web based service folds or changes in some way), but their are good reasons not to use them for normal correspondence.
First of all, my own personal opinion that using Hotmail or one of the other big, well-known email services is just plain, well, tacky. It strikes me like eating imitation crab meat or something – it just feels low-class. I know other people feel this way as well – how seriously do you take something received from a Hotmail address verses a more unique domain name? And I don’t mean to pick on Hotmail – all of the big, free, web-based email suffers from the same perceptions.
This makes a well known, web-based email account very unsuitable for any kind of real business. People are so used to getting spam from these places that they will often delete the message unread unless they absolutely know who the source of the message is. Excluding things like FFA submissions, these email accounts should never be used for legitimate business purposes.
Another major disadvantage is that you are at the mercy of the big company hosting the email. They want to make money, naturally, and they must do something in exchange for giving you free email. Most of the services simply post advertisements, although some also require you to view popup ads or receive occasional spam emails. (I refer to these as spam emails because they are undesired by virtually everyone and usually people treat them like spam – they just have to be received to get the free service).
Personally, there are no conditions that I would use Hotmail in the future due to their requirement that you sign up for a passport account. There are many security concerns with using Microsoft Passport (not the least of which is that Microsoft’s track record is abysmal as regards security and privacy) and additionally a real trepidation at giving a large corporation such control over my information.
So what would I recommend? There are many email services available at a very reasonable price which give you everything you could possibly want. Probably the best and most reasonably priced service I have found is from everyone.net. You get 10 email accounts (whose names are completely under your control) for about $40 a year (100mb of storage) – and this even includes your own domain name! The service provides both POP and web-based email, and has an array of features which make it very useful. Additionally, since you are directly paying for the service (and what better relationship is there in business than the “customer directly pays vendor who provides service” business model), you don’t have to view banners, you don’t get popup ads and you don’t need to receive spam emails.
And believe me, that’s the best reason of all to use a service such as everyone.net’s paid email accounts – no stupid advertisements which I don’t want, don’t need and will never have a use for.
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at http://www.internet-tips.net – Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.