by Bill Fisher
An email address is necessary to do just about anything on the Web these days, from sending messages to banking online to creating a Facebook account. And with so many options to choose from, it’s easier than ever to create an account.
Generally, it’s recommended to set up an email address through a free webmail provider rather than through an Internet service provider (ISP). Providing email service isn’t a priority for many ISPs; as a result, the technology they use isn’t always up to date, which introduces some potential problems—including limited storage space and an interface that’s not necessarily user friendly.
Webmail, on the other hand, is free and can be accessed through any web browser. Some of the most well-known webmail providers include Gmail, Outlook.com, and Yahoo! Mail. Below are some advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing a free webmail provider.
Advantages of free webmail include:
- You’ll always have the same email address, even if you need to change your ISP.
- All free webmail services offer a large amount of free storage space (15GB or more). There will also be fewer limitations on file sizes for attachments.
- All these services use a clean, simple interface, which makes it easy to send new messages and find old messages.
- There are additional features available with many of these programs, including online calendars, photo storage capabilities and online maps.
Disadvantages of free webmail include:
- To offset the cost of their free services, providers will display advertising in your inbox.
- For some services, including Gmail, your computer will look for key words in your email messages to show you relevant ads. This doesn’t mean anyone is actually reading your private messages, but it does make some users uncomfortable.
Alternatives to Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! Mail
Generally speaking, the convenience of free webmail outweighs its disadvantages. Still, if you’d prefer to use a webmail service that doesn’t show advertisements, you can use one of the services mentioned below. However, please note that these services are not free to use:
Getting a new email address
If you’re ready to get started with a new email provider, simply visit its website and look for an option to sign up or create an account. The process is basically the same for most webmail services.
Fisher is an instructional designer with GCFLearnFree.org, a program of Goodwill Community Foundation and Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina Inc. For more information, visit www.GCFLearnFree.org/email101.