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Are Free Email Services Worth It?

This is a major update to what I consider one of my most important articles, dating all the way back to 2004 (with intermediate updates in 2010 and 2013).

My answer has changed from “mostly no” to “mostly yes”, with the following important caveats:

  • You must understand the costs.
  • You must understand the risks.
  • You must prepare for disaster.
  • You must take responsibility.

I’ll dive into each of these in detail, but before I do, I’ll share one concrete datapoint: all of my email is currently being processed via free email accounts. Clearly, I believe it can be done safely.

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The cost of free email

I’m sure that by now you know there’s no such thing as “free”. Everything has a cost. It may not be money that comes out of your wallet, but there’s always a cost of some sort.

Here are some of the costs associated with free email services:

  • Customer Service (or lack thereof): For all intents and purposes, there is no customer service for free email accounts. While there may be forums, contact forms, and even email addresses that accept your questions, your chances of getting a helpful response are near zero.
  • Advertising: Most free email services are supported by advertising. You will see ads alongside, or in some cases within, your email, and in some cases, they may be added to your outgoing email.
  • Privacy: Advertising based on the contents of email raises the issue of privacy; it “reads” your email to determine which ads to display. Some services may also use your information to target ads elsewhere, tailor features and functionality based on your usage, or even share your information – presumably anonymized – with third parties.
  • Spam: Free email services seem to receive a disproportionate amount of spam. There are theories about why, but you’ll receive more spam using a free email service than with most alternatives. Some are better at spam filtering than others, but occasionally, legitimate email will be a casualty.
  • Deliverability: A lot of SPAM seems to come from free email addresses. Spammers regularly abuse free email accounts, or make it look like spam is coming from free email accounts. The result is a built-in penalty: email from a free email service is slightly more likely to be filtered as SPAM.

In my opinion, and based on questions I receive and problems I see every day, the lack of responsive customer service is the single biggest cost that people “pay” on a regular basis.

The risks of free email

Not a day goes by1 that I don’t hear of problems with one of the major free email providers. It’s never a problem with the service itself – that always works as expected. The problem is almost always lost email, or a lost or compromised account.

As a result, I can easily identify the single biggest risk for anyone using free email in any way, at any time, and for any reason: lack of customer support. THERE IS NONE.

Someday, somehow, you’ll run into a problem for which you need help, and there will be no one to help you. Period. You will not get help. You’re on your own. If you can’t figure it out, tough luck. And yes, that often includes losing your email or losing access to your account completely.

You might think I’m being alarmist, but please trust me, I’m not. This is what I see and hear from people desperately asking for help almost every day – help that in most cases, neither I nor anyone else can give.

Preparing for disaster

With all that being said, it is possible to use free email accounts quite safely. I do it.

You simply need to prepare.

Being prepared really boils down to a list of “do’s and don’t’s” you’ve probably heard before.

  • Use a strong password. Many hacks result from simply guessing your password. You should use at least a 12-character password these days, ideally with random characters. See What’s a good password? for more.
  • Use two-factor authentication. Sometimes referred to as multi-factor, or simply “2FA”, knowing the account password is not enough to log in on a machine that hasn’t been used previously – like an overseas hacker’s machine.
  • Don’t share your password with anyone. Accounts are often hacked by ex-friends and ex-spouses who were given the password in better days. Planning to change passwords when you break up doesn’t work; often the account theft happens before the breakup (or even causes it).
  • Don’t write your password down. If you must, keep it in a locked drawer, a safety deposit box, or something similar. Written-down passwords will be found. Consider using an encrypting password vault like LastPass to remember your passwords for you. This also makes it simple to use exceptionally strong passwords you don’t need to remember yourself.
  • Don’t log in to your account on any computer you don’t control, ever. Public or shared computers are a goldmine for account thieves and hackers. I often hear from people who checked email at a “friends” house, (or worse – a public library), only to find their account quickly compromised.
  • Don’t log in to your account over unencrypted  or “open” Wi-Fi hotspot connections. Fortunately, most web-based services use https, which is encrypted. The problem is when they are unencrypted, anyone within range can capture your username and password. See How Do I Use an Open Wi-Fi Hotspot Safely? for more.
  • Keep your machine clear of malware. This could be another list of “don’t’s” all by itself. Don’t open attachments you don’t expect, don’t download from sites that aren’t known to be absolutely trustworthy, run up-to-date anti-malware software, keep all your software up-to-date, and so on. See Internet Safety: 7 Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet for more.
  • Don’t fall for phishing scams. No legitimate service will ever ask you for your password in an email. If you’re not sure, check with the service directly by visiting their web site. Do not respond to email that asks for your password, ever.
  • Keep your recovery information up-to-date. This one is hard to stress enough. When (not if) you run into problems at the account level – perhaps a forgotten password, or even a compromised account – it’s the recovery information, like a phone number or alternate email address, that will save you. If you don’t have those, or they’re no longer accurate, you will very likely lose your account completely. In fact, I call it A One Step Way to Lose Your Account … Forever.
  • Back up. I don’t mean your PC (though of course you should back that up too); I mean back up the contents of your online free email account. Should the worst happen and you lose access to your online account, a backup copy of your email and contacts will help at least mitigate the disaster. I recommend backing up to your PC using an email program like Thunderbird.

All the recommendations apply to any email service, regardless of how you access it. In fact, those recommendations apply to any online service, not just email.

Here’s a quick rule of thumb to help judge if any of this matters: if your free email account went away completely tomorrow, along with all of the mail and contact information that it contains, would it be an inconvenience or a catastrophe? If the latter, you need to prepare. Now.

How I use free email

As mentioned, I use free email – specifically Google’s Gmail – for all my email. I do this mostly for the spam filtering, and for the ubiquity and power of the Gmail web interface.

But you’ll rarely, if ever, see my “gmail address”. All of my email addresses are on domains that I control. For example, email sent to leo<at> will eventually end up in a Gmail account. Replies will come “from” leo<at> It’s very possible my correspondents have no idea that Gmail is involved at all.

In the unlikely event that I lose my Gmail account, I simply set up a new one and route my email through or to it. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a Gmail account; I could elect to move to a Microsoft account, a Yahoo! account, or ever start handling email directly on without using a free email account at all.

There’s more about the technique in my Ask Leo! On Business article, Use Gmail to Handle Your Email.

Taking responsibility

Most of what I mean by being prepared is taking personal responsibility for the security, integrity, and reliability of your own email.

It’s your responsibility to ensure that your account is maintained securely. It’s your responsibility to back it up in case of data loss. It’s your responsibility to have the information and procedures in place to be ready to deal with account lockouts, theft, or just about any hiccup that might come along.

It’s your responsibility to deal with any and all problems that come up.

Always assume there will be no help. It’s all on you.

If that’s not acceptable, you shouldn’t be using a free email account at all. Look for alternatives that, at a minimum, offer more comprehensive customer support.

Free email is ideal for some things

Free email accounts can be used with less concern for purposes that are less important than “real” email.

Throw-away accounts: Free accounts are perfect when you really don’t care what happens. They’re great when you need an email address for a company that might spam you later. They’re useful if you need or want to remain anonymous, or otherwise separate that email from your important stuff.

The risk is that while you might think it’s unimportant, it turns out that it really is. Back to the rule of thumb: if the email account went away completely and without warning, would it matter? If the answer is anything other than a hearty and well-considered “No!”, it’s not really a throw-away account.

SPAM filters: In an ironic twist, Google Mail (Gmail) turns out to have a very robust spam filter. Yes, your Gmail account will get tons of spam, as all the free services do, but Google’s spam filters are (as I write this) the best I’ve seen at filtering out spam. In fact, it’s what first attracted me to using Gmail for the majority of my own email.

Service access: Sometimes you simply have to have an email address with a particular service to access certain functions. My Hotmail account is my Microsoft account, my Yahoo account is what I use for Flickr (a Yahoo service), and my Gmail account is how I access Google-related services. Even if I never use these free accounts for any email at all, they’re important, and need to be treated responsibly.

Can you use free email “for real”?

Yes, but…

Remember: if you lose your free email account for any reason, it is likely you will not get it back. It’s possible, but in my years of experience, it’s unlikely. When it happens, you lose your email address – permanently. People who send email to that address will not reach you, and may in fact be emailing the hacker who stole your account.

It’s a fundamental risk of a system that has little or no customer service because it’s free.

You can, however, minimize your exposure by preparing for disaster, as outlined above. That’s the first step – or rather list of steps – to safely use a free email account “for real”.

By far the single most important thing you can do is to consider what happens if your free email account were not there tomorrow, and take responsibility for making sure that doesn’t happen – or has as little impact as possible if it does.

Years of reader questions and reported problems only continue to strengthen my position.

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Footnotes & references

1: Honestly. In over 13 years, as of this update.

183 comments on “Are Free Email Services Worth It?”

  1. Just my comments and opinions: I have a email address and have used it for years. Some really good things about it:

    Hard drives die but yahoo email servers are backed up (I assume!). I feel my email is safer on yahoo than on my local computer in an outlook .pst file.

    It has a web interface so I can access it from any computer with internet access.

    It was recently expanded to 100 megs of storage, which feels like a whole lot to me!

    The vast majority of the 100-200 spams I get each day are filtered into my bulk mail (spam) folder for easy deletion. Only a few non-spam messages end up in there (though I sure wish it was none at all. As it is I have to look through it every day to be sure I’m not deleting good stuff).

    Definitely no customer service, automatic forwarding, etc though!

  2. Your statement: “SPAM – free email services seem to receive a disproportionate amount of spam” would indicate it is a while since you last used a free email account. Yahoo and Hotmail introduced excellent spam filtering processes about twelve months or more agp. Where once they were a spammer’s “magnet”, I now receive less than ten per week and I have several accounts. Prior to the introduction of that filtering, I was receiving 52% of my messages as spam (calculated by Mailwasher PRO). Gmail, introduced its service late last year, and again they have excellent spam filtering. The service in my address – – is another I have never received spam through. So if you haven’t looked at web mail it’s worth a revisit.

  3. Is anyone out there getting the same problem as I am? I keep getting pop-up boxes that say Match The Picture, when I put in the password for my Hotmail account. I havn’t had access for a couple of days. Even my tech says he’s not heard this before (although he hasn’t been able to come to look at it as yet). He said he knows about the boxes – but normally when you decipher the ‘code characters’ – you get in. Does anyone know how to get around this problem or even where it originates? I’ve changed my password – it doesn’t help. Intriguing to say the least. I emailed you yesterday but haven’t yet had a response.

  4. Even more weird, other people’s messages show up in my sent file and then the respondent’s messages come to me. This only happens when the sender uses a public computer network that I used years ago. This happens about once a week.

  5. i want to ask a ques in the service to the provider of gamil but i dont know how to conatact them.

    my problem is ” some of my friends got the 50 invitations.. so they can invite their friends to open the gmail service but i am not able t get the invitations how can i get that. please reply me and send the ans via mail to me

  6. As stated in the article, free email accounts have no customer support.

    GMail is still in Beta. Whether you get invitations to hand out is fairly random and not under your control. Simply be patient.

  7. hi my name is fadi , and someone hacked my email.. [Email Address Removed] and changed the secret question and answer… this email is very important to me and i have everything from school-to-work papers and eveything… plz help me and reply me to this email. [Email Address Removed] in openning [Email Address Removed] and hope as soon as possible to hear from u guyz

  8. This is related to msn messenger and hotmail… just to let everyone know…my hotmail and msn contacts were deleted not once but twice so far..all of them. for anyone that doesnt want to lose their contacts…keep them safe and save them!

  9. Hi

    Has anyone tried Gmail – everyone is beginning to switch. There are many advantages over Hotmail – fully free, “conversation view”, labelling not folders, free POP etc., no picture ads only RELEVANT TEXT ads, a 2.7gb inbox (until altered to 250mb, Hotmail only had 10mb!), a brilliant spam filter, a mail search and other great features.

    I would recommend this service to anyone.

  10. hi leo,
    i’m sure this question has been touched on before, but for the life of me, i can’t find its thread on your forum.
    i have just deleted my yahoo mail account & would like people who write me there to actually SEE that it no longer exists (ie, bounced mail), rather than their mssgs just sitting there, unseen, and them assuming that i’ve read it.
    as far as i can see as per yahoo’s info, my account will remain inactive for 90 days…(no one can claim that ID during that time), but how long until mail sent there is bounced back to the sender? (i’ve sent a cpl of test emails and nothing has been bounced back)
    just seems ridiculous that a deleted email account wouldn’t automatically/immediately bounce emails!

  11. Hi. I’ve been having problems w/my yahoo email account for a couple of months now. It will not recognize my password. I’ve emailed yahoo and they don’t really seem to help much. It’s as if someone possibly changed it. It won’t accept my birthdate or other info either. I’ve sent emails to that address and know that it is still active. Is there any way to retrieve this??

  12. Email isn’t sent to a site, it’s sent to an email address.

    But the answer to your question is “maybe”. Under some conditions HotMail does seem to include the IP address of the sending computer.

  13. Hi. I’ve been having problems w/my Hotmail email account for a couple of days now. It will not recognize my password. I’ve emailed Hotmail and they don’t really seem to help much. It’s as if someone possibly changed it. It won’t accept my birthdate or other info either. I’ve sent emails to that address and know that it is still active. Is there any way to retrieve this Please help me I can give you detail un-read meail that i have this account Please help I have a lot of home work in my in box. reply to

  14. Is it true Msn Hotmail is shutting down it’s servers because there are only 538 names left, on the count of people making to many hotmail accounts? I’m asking because I have received this e-mail:
    Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2006 00:36:45 +0000
    Hey it is Andy and john the directors of MSN, sorry for the interruption, but msn is closing down. This is because too many inconsiderate people are taking up all the names (eg. making up lots of different accounts for just one person). We only have 578 names left.

    If you
    would like to close your account, DO NOT SEND THIS MESSAGE ON. If you would like to keep your account, then SEND THIS MESSAGE TO EVERYONE ON YOUR CONTACT LIST. This is no joke, we will be shutting down the servers. Send it on, thanks. The use of msn and hotmail will cost money from summer 2006. If you send this message to 18 different people from your list your little icon will become blue and that will make it free for you. If you dont believe

    me go on
    ( and see it yourself. Dont foward this message copy paste it so people will actually read it

    …End of Messege
    Powerful parental controls improve your peace of mind with MSN Premium. Join now and get the first two months FREE*

  15. my hotmail account was invaluable during my time in the military! Although it had glitches here and there, there was no better way to keep in touch with family and friends while traveling and living in several places in the USA and overseas. No matter where I went, the way to reach me never changed, as long as I could get internet access. Of course, Hotmail has become more glitchy as of late, and I rely more on my Yahoo account. The spam filter on Yahoo seems to work better as well. I have made specific filter rules to eliminate repeat spam in Hotmail, and the messages still get through!

  16. What non-free email accounts would you suggest? I have just lost access to my hotmail account and want to switch to a more secure and supportive service for all my important emails. Thanks x

  17. I lean towards those provided by ISPs. Depending on how you connect to the internet, you probably already have one, or more, available to you. What’s most important is that it be a service with real customer support.

    And for the record, I’m actually a fan of smaller, local ISPs. I’ve used one for years here in the Seattle area, and have been exceptionally pleased. When I call, a real person answers, and that real person a) knows what I’m talking about, and b) is in the area.

    There are a lot of ISP Comparison sites that would be a great place to start. Just google ISP Comparison.

  18. is this true???

    (Hey it is Andy and john the directors of MSN, sorry for the interruption but msn is closing down. this is because too many inconsiderate people are taking up all the name (eg making up lots
    of different accounts for just one person), we only have 578
    names left. If you would like to close your account, DO NOT SEND THIS MESSAGE ON. If you would like to keep your account, then SEND
    will be shutting down the servers. Send it on, thanks. WHO EVER DOES

  19. Hi! Leo,

    I enjoy reading your weekly comments, even though they are mostly ‘over my head’. Please bear with me on my question.

    I am retired in Japan and intend to remain here for the foreseeable future. As you can see, I have a ‘gmail’ account. I had a local Japanese account geared for the local US military base (where I was a HS teacher for 27 years) and had an ever-increasing amount of spam. When someone suggested gmail I tried it and liked the spell-checking feature of my German messages to my German friends / relatives. I also like the search method for accessing any e-mail address, or specific name, place, date, etc. With the old account I spent a lot of time filing messages into folders — and if I misfiled a message, it was usually a long, frustrating (and occasionally unsuccessful) process to find it again. I’ve dropped the local account and tried MacMail, Yahoo and Hotmail, but felt most comfortable with Gmail.

    I just read your article about the advisability of not using a ‘free’ account such as Gmail. Do you (or a reader??) know of a Tokyo based email service which provides English support??? My Japanese is at the survival level.

    Thank you in advance for any assistance and suggestions you (or a reader) is able to offer.

    Sig Trautwein

    PS It is only a minor point, but I initially misspelled my last name (Trautwein, not Tratuwein) when I subscribed to your weekly letter. Please correct it, if it’s not too much trouble — I can live with it.

    Perhaps it was only a typo, but later and latter are not the same word.

    Arigato . .

  20. Actually, if you want a _real_ throwaway e-mail for spam or something, just use an instant e-mail address at,, or You can’t send mail with them, but they’re easy on-the-fly if you want to get one. For example, just go to, and login with “mop” and you’ll see all mail sent to within the last 24 hours.

    But I digress. Free e-mail accounts generally suck. They’re generally choppy, limited in features, and full of ads. Even some big name ones, such as yahoo or msn have ads. You’re right about that, Leo.

    The golden exception is gmail. Gmail gives about 2.8 gb of e-mail space. And they’re very flexible with settings, sorting, searching e-mail etc. You can download the files to a POP3 mailbox. And they have built-in spam filters. But you can see all the e-mail labeled as spam, just in case you think something that’s not junk might’ve been put there (rarely happens). Also, they only allow legit people to send e-mail from there. C’mon, it’s google. They’re the pros of search. And if someone says that the mail coming from that address is spam (there’s a button to do this in gmail, to label a piece of mail as ‘spam’ so gmail will know in the future, if it gets labeled ‘spam’ enough, to label it ‘spam’ for every user and not put it in the inbox), then that gmail account will be shut down.

    Now far from it for me to advertise for gmail. On the contrary, gmail has its downsides. If you’re looking to protect your privacy, think again. Every piece of mail that you voluntarily keep on your gmail account for more than thirty days is fair game for them to keep on their servers for years based on US data storage law and the agreement necessary to sign up to gmail. I honestly don’t care if google is reading my e-mail, and I know google goes to great lengths to defend a citizen’s privacy against the governmnet, but it’s just not something I comfortable.

    But the same holds true for ISPs, they’ll certainly keep your information for as long as they damn well please, too. Of course, it’s not like they always have the means to, with all the internet traffic that goes on, of course, they run out of storage space pretty fast. Either way though, someone else has access to your e-mails for quite a long time, and the government is perfectly able to get your e-mails from that someone else through, say, monitoring the site or ISP through the National Security Agency or the Patriot Act.

    Oh, sure, who cares about privacy, right? We’ve got to protect the nation from terrorists, right! Obsessions with security have recently ruined a good deal of civil liberties for the American people, including our right to privacy.

    That’s why it’s gotten to the point where people have to take their right to privacy into their own hands if they want it at all, and it begins to seem like too much trouble to have privacy, even though it was something that was free originally. Nowadays if you want your e-mail to be private you’ve got to encrypt it. You can’t even _use_ the phone because you know someone will be tapping it. And don’t even think about going inside a store or busied traffic corner to talk. And if you put your personal information online? You might as well have screamed, ‘hey, world, look at me!’

    It shouldn’t be this hard to keep one’s personal information secret, but with the advent of technology without ethical limitations, through the creation of an untamed power, both the people and the government have a power to break the rights and liberties of others.

  21. You’ll be spammed even if you’re a PAID account or an ISP account, or even if you have your own MX server with Spam Assasin.

    Bottomline: DON’T BE STUPID.

  22. hi, i love your site btw; you’re amazing and helpful with alot of info i would never think of… … oh yeah, but i’ve used yahoo mail for awhile, ever since i had problems at hotmail… yahoo works fine i guess, but im hesitant to give them valid personal info, like name, zip code, etc.. they have the right to delete my account due to this eh? … and have you ever heard of im considering tryin out their service based upon your analysis… thanks so much for everything leo, i will buy you so many latte’s someday when i have the funds!!!

  23. Hmm…you’re perfectly right. My Gmail account disappeared, went nonexistant for some odd reason… What a PAIN. I also used that email to sign on to myspace and youtube etc. etc…

  24. Yahoo is consistently rated as the #1 free email service. Spam is VERY low, you’ll get maybe a sponsored message a week or so. If you have more, it’s probably because you gave your email to the wrong site.

  25. my account say its lockedout what does this mean, but the other users on hotmail account in my household theirs are working normal i would like to know the cause that my one is lockout??

    thanks for your co operation


  26. This is a REALLY REALLY helpful artical and website u no everything and i appreciate that you have took the time to do this for everyone. Excellent Job!

  27. I don’t get spam in my Yahoo! account. If I do, it might be once every 3-6 months – in my Bulk mailbox.

    As for hotmail, yeah – it seems to have an affinity to junk. About one every month.

    – Then again, the reason I don’t get much junk is possibly because I sign up for few newsletters – that is under hotmail.

  28. I have had a GMail for 2 years now with no problems, its true i do get spam, but all of it is filtered into the ‘Junk’ folder, I think GMail is the best web based email available.

  29. I currently and routinely use Gmail with Firefox and remove the spam. Every 2 or 3 days I download the mail into IE (gmail let you do) and so the REAL mail is stored in my PC even when no internet connection is available. By the way I also use an alias address supplied by the IEEE so that my address is always the same in these years: before using Gmail the mail was routed to other free addresses, a couple of which disappeared or became unavailable overnight (C4com and CTOnet, just for examples). Nothing is perfect but now I am relatively satified and unworried.

  30. please show the posting date of when the article was created, so people can easily see if the information is current or out of date.

    Gmail’s spam filter is 10x better than hotmail’s. Hardly any spam actually gets through to me

  31. Hi I was told that you can recovers ur password on hotmail but sending and email too now I have been looking for it all over hotmail I am thinking maybe this is a hoax as the person I got it from said to put my currrent password down for the account I am sending it from. Is this a hoax or does it have any truth to it?

    Hash: SHA1

    It is a hoax.

    Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


  33. I agree with you completely re free email accounts. For 6 years I dutifully paid for my AOL each month but also never, ever had a problem. The minute I switched to their free AOL, I had all sorts of problems, not related to my high speed internet provider, and the AOL people got plain ugly about the whole thing and would not answer a question even when the problem originated in their server. I am desperate for a new email account with someone else.

  34. If anyone is in need of a free email account that does not have intrusive ads, check out . You can get a free email account there without ads. Has virus protection, spam blocking tools, and much more. It is great for someone who just wants a free simple reliable email account.

  35. Leo,
    You are exactly right! I HATE the new windows classic hotmail they made me change to–and did not even ask if I wanted to!
    So, what email ervices do you recommend that are NOT free—I don’t even care if I pay for them, if I can get some service when I need it.

    thanks for your help—

  36. Several years ago I had free email accounts from Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL–and got rid of them all because the amount of spam was incredible!

    However, I have had a GMail account now for over a year and I am very happy with it (although I still use my ISP email account for more important mail as Leo suggests). GMail has been more reliable than the other free accounts and I do not get anywhere near the amount of spam that I got with the others–and what little spam I do get is normally delivered into my spam folder and not in my inbox. And because there is so much less spam in the spam folder, it is quick and easy to look through it (to make sure there is nothing I want to keep) before I delete them permanently.

    Having used many of the other free services, I would definitely recommend GMail for anyone who would like to have a free mail account along with their ISP’s account.

  37. I agree with the comments about Gmail. Its a great service. Well gmail has also enabled directly downloading of email messages via their POP server. Gradually they a are planning for upgrade to IMAP which will even better out their User experience.
    Gmail is great alongwith its powerful search features & the ability to group a particular set of email messages into one single conversation which simply allows us to keep track of the emails exchanged with a particular person with regard to a particular subject.

  38. Leo is right….web-based e-mails are great”THROW-AWAY” programs.

    Does anyone ever want their precious ISP URL known by anybody except their friends and family?

    Can you imagine some of those replica watch or viagra websites getting to know your ISP address?

    I like Yahoo because it has a nice spam device and other features that keep it simple and effective, especially the “Answers FORUM”.

  39. I use Outlook (the full blown program) and have a cable broadband ISP main account I want to protect. Can I add any one of the free email service accounts just to get one of those ‘throw-away’ email addresses, AND still use my full blown Outlook program to access both, or several email accounts, simultaneously? I have been using Craigslist and other services to buy and sell household items and want to protect my identity when I respond to inquiries w/o having to sign-in to each individual email service to see if I have mail.

    Hash: SHA1

    GMail accounts, for example, can be configured to be downloaded into Outlook.
    Just be careful that when you reply or send email that you’re sending using the
    email account you think you are.


    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  41. I have been using Google’s Gmail for quite some time now, in addition to my ISP’s E-mail service, and have so far been very pleased. I do see alot more spam in Gmail, but it has been blocked 100%. The amount of storage is just unbelievable, although I am a little leary about security, but I have not been let down by any ‘free’ Google service yet! I for the most part agree that “nothing’s really free”, but I honestly think there are exceptions such as AVG Free Anti-virus, A-squared Free, Ccleaner, Comodo Firewall, etc. Of course you must be very careful, but I’ve found these programs far better than the services I’d been paying for (I prefer not to mention their names in all fairness, but they are some of the better rated}.

  42. when my laptop boot i get this message c:windowsystem32ne0ks.exe. how do i remove this error from my laptop . i am using windows home edition

  43. I hope this article was written in 2005. I have used free google apps to provide email to a very large company. I havent experienced any problems servicing my many users. As far as spam, please learn about SPF and open relay servers. I cant justify the cost of Microsoft exchange for the very extra value my users experience. This perceived value will only dissapear as google and yahoo make Office and Exchange obsolete in the next 5 years.

  44. I had never really made a decision about having a reliable email. When Yahoo made the Space available to store lots of contact information, I went for it. I thought now I can throw away every hard copy and access my contact information from anywhere in the world. Then one day all of my contacts with email and snail mail addresses and phone numbers and private information disappeared suddenly from Yahoo. Even the categories became blank. Boy, how I wished I had thought about a more reliable email service then and done something about it sooner.

  45. I am using hotmail because my service provider account had NO spam filter, and contrary to other reports, got more spam on that account than on yahoo or hotmail, which provided methods for handling junk.I would like to use my account since we pay for it but it is too difficult. How can I find a dial-up server in my area code?

  46. Even if you keep your email for your friends only, there is still risk of the replicas and viagra sellers to get your email, don’t be fooled by false security given by paid account, anyone who you give your email, however trustable he/she is may leak your email even without their knowledge. Their computer may be infected with an email harvesting spyware (especially for those who use Outlook or any other mail program). Once your email is registered to a spammer, it stays, and spammer have the tendency to share email list.

  47. Even if you keep your email for your friends only, there is still risk of the replicas and viagra sellers to get your email, don’t be fooled by false security given by paid account, anyone who you give your email, however trustable he/she is may leak your email even without their knowledge. Their computer may be infected with an email harvesting spyware (especially for those who use Outlook or any other mail program). Once your email is registered to a spammer, it stays, and spammer have the tendency to share email list

  48. I’d also never recommend to use an email address for which you pay a _monthly_ (or yearly, for that matter) fee. And I’d take Gmail off the non-recommended emails list as explained below.

    While your comments are valid the thing is that in by 2008 people should understand that email _address_ doesn’t really cost anything to provide.

    But your identity does. It’s awfully valuable. And that’s why Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL — and all those services that you _pay_ for for service don’t want to let you ‘own’ i.e. have full control over your email address (i.e. allow you to forward your emails to your preferred service or access them w/ POP/IMAP for free).

    So you say, ok: but I’m fine paying. And I say that the biggest reason that people don’t change their email service provider, free or paid for, when someone else provides a better service is that they’ve given the address to so many. The email address is essentially your online identity and most of the providers keep you hostage because of that.

    And here’s where Gmail is very different. They offer free email forwarding – and POP & IMAP access. And it has by far the best spam filters of the tens that I’ve tested. But that’s beside the point. The point is that others — including those comcasts, verizons, etc — keep your email and/or your online identity hostage while Gmail doesn’t. Ok, some would say that they’re still in beta and we _still_ don’t know what it will become. I say, possible, but the company has committed quite strongly to these free-as-in-speech elements of Gmail.
    So, I think Gmail is definitely good. (.. But not really all paid for emails are.)

    You get the same freedom by buying your own domain. Cost: less than $10/_year_. And with that you own the whole address space of that domain.
    And most domain hosts provide free email forwarding. And Google Apps even more. With them you can provide email accounts for your domain to hundreds of your friends. For free – and so that you and your friends have full control.

    My choices: Gmail, own domain, Google Apps.

    Don’t let them keep you hostage – make you pay for “nothing”.

  49. I do believe that with all the new technology this article pretty much has become obsolete.
    You have your email client setup in your computer. It grabs mails off of the air through POP3 or IMAP or something like that. Everything is backed-up locally, including all your contacts and emails and everything you’d ever want, even a built-in spam filter.
    You have your email encryption apps. If you are sending important stuff through email, encrypt it. Or you can just use attachments that are password-protected. Don’t send non-encrypted sensitive information.
    This article does say that it was posted in 2004, which makes me very, very happy. I shudder to think that somebody still seriously thinks that a paying email account is worth his money now… if he does, he really needs to stop wasting his money.

    While yes, for many there are backup solutions and off-line approaches, I stand by this article as much today as I did four years ago. Free email services are risky when they are relied on for important information. Encryption doesn’t work for the masses. Free services still, by and large, have no customer support. If you lose access to the account you lose access to the account with little recourse but to create a new account.

    Backing up using POP3/IMAP is great, but it doesn’t alleviate the many other reasons that free email accounts are a risky bet.

    And I’ll reiterate: this is a conclusion I’ve come to based on the problems that get reported here to Ask Leo!. Problems that persist, perhaps even in greater numbers, to this day.

    Four years later.

    – Leo
  50. Somehow the contents of my INBOX were completely deleted today (11/21/08). My account, which stared out at netscape [personal email address removed] years ago, is now on AIM. So the address [personal email address removed] also works for this same account. Anyhow, I am finding just about nothing online that helps. The contents of my INBOX are not in my trash folder, as I already checked. I think the problem is related to deleting the trash folder contents. Thats when the INBOX contents suddenly disappeared. Looks like a lost cause, but before I give up can you help? Email me directly please! The clock is running!

    No, I’m sorry, I cannot. I cannot retrieve lost email.

    – Leo
  51. Hi, Leo.

    Despite my aversion to Microsoft, I set up my first free e-mail account with Hotmail in February 2002 after learning that the 100-person local office of a now-defunct software company (acquired by HP in 2005) would be shut down and its operations outsourced to a firm in India.

    (I got a 30-day notice that I would be losing my job as senior technical writer — and permission to go to interviews during work hours — but after being assured for the previous 30 days that the documentation department would not be affected by the lay-offs and would relocate to a smaller office space.)

    Had I not been numb with shock, I would have created a separate “job-hunting” e-mail address with my ISP, which offers 5 e-mail addresses per account — including the primary address.

    An e-mail address on one’s resume from a free e-mail service is considered unprofessional, and — at least for a while — many companies inundated with resumes actually screen out resumes that have e-mail addresses with free services (a “snobbery-based” filtering system).

    At the time, Gmail was nonexistent. Initially, Gmail accounts were “limited” and by invitation only. It was simple to overcome this marketing-based “limitation,” however, simply by signing up for an account and having Google send an activation code via SMS to one’s cell phone: I had a Gmail account three months before Google notified me that I was “off the waiting list” and could sign up for a free Gmail account (of which I now have a few, each for a specific purpose).

    (I will digress further by mentioning unscrupulous early Gmail account recipients selling or auctioning accounts, abusing the 50 invitations that one gets after using an account, which are solely marketing ploys now that Gmail accounts are readily available.)

    Although I do still use that first Hotmail account to apply for jobs and update on-line resumes, I stay in touch with legitimate recruiters and employers via telephone, although initial contacts were made via this Hotmail account, in response to on-line resumes and applications, or e-mail messages with my resume attached.

    If I am working on a salaried or contract basis writing documentation or designing Web sites, I often forget to check that Hotmail account. If the account is not accessed for 30 days, Microsoft (in a draconian effort to sell paid Web-mail subscriptions) purges ALL new, unread, or saved messages!

    One positive aspect of that Hotmail account is that “spam bots” crawl on-line job and resume listing sites/databases, from to The result is a Hotmail account that receives literally hundreds of “spam” messages per day now. There are also IT recruiting “farms” that use ‘bots to search sites such as for key words, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses: I am inundated daily with automated e-mail inquiries from recruiters from cities all over India.

    These messages are not about positions doing technical writing or Web design, but are the result of an automated “hit” on a keyword in my resume, such as “Oracle” or “Perl.” Every few months, I go through about a week of receiving phone calls from these very firms about short-term contract positions (sometimes two weeks or less) anywhere in the United States (often 2,000 or more miles away) based upon key words in such automated searches. I cannot understand the callers and they do not understand why I am not interested in relocating thousands of miles for a five-day contract position that would not pay enough for one-way airfare and for which I am not qualified. (Just because I administered a database server for documentation from 2000-2002 (with no demand in 2008 for skills specific to MS SQL Server 2000 and Oracle 8i) hardly qualifies me to administer Oracle 11g EE!

    “Private” or “restricted” on-line resumes do not get responses, but “open” resumes (especially on non-specialized job sites) definitely generated spam, clueless inquiries, and unwanted phone calls.

    For job-hunting purposes, I suggest Gmail if a person is determined to use a free e-mail service. Gmail’s spam filtering is quite decent, the ‘’ domain does not suffer from the professional stigma of most other free e-mail services, storage is vast, one can access Gmail via POP3/SMTP and IMAP, and Gmail accounts are not purged.

    Setting up a Web-based account is also advantageous for travelers who cannot access their corporate or personal ISP’s SMTP servers, but — as several people have stated — especially if one is a consultant or does contract work, in addition to salaried work, registering one’s own domain — with a professional Web site, and e-mail address using one’s own domain, is a reasonable career enhancement. Fortunately, Network Solutions is no longer the only legitimate domain registrar that most people can recall, although so-called “free domains” are not true TLDs and should be avoided at all costs for professional use!

  52. I have live mail and Yahoo mail. While I don’t have any “important” e-mails so far I have had no problems and almost no spam. Windows live mail have wonderful feature that allows you to not only block spam but bounce it back to sender. As to support, no problem with Yahoo and live mail might take longer but so far they always helped eventually. I would recommend both.

  53. I read here that somebody closed their Yahoo account down and wondered why their friends’ emails weren’t bouncing back. Well, that’s the least of their problems. Once your account closes then your email address name is up for grabs. What if someone who has your old address writes you at that address. It will go to the new holder of that email address. I have a yahoo account that I don’t use. An old friend whom I hadn’t contacted in years wrote me there. I was so glad I checked it once every 2 weeks or so just to keep it alive. Once you’ve closed it the only solution to that would be to write to your old yahoo address every so often to see if someone has taken the name and if so ask them if they would kindly forward any email addressed to you and hope that they will be helpful. Bottom line, in stead of closing an account, inform all of your contacts you’ve closed the account and wait at least a year before actually closing it, checking weekly and informing any one who writes about your new address.

  54. In regard to a recent posting by a different Mark, he recommended not closing a free email account for at least a year so that you could notify any people you might have missed in announcing your change of address.

    In addition to simply checking the old account periodically, you can set up an autoresponder (Vacation Response on Yahoo) to tell them of the change immediately after they send a message to that old account. On Yahoo, look for Vacation Response on the Mail Options page. On Gmail it is called Vacation responder and it is on the Settings page.

    Windows Live Hotmail now has a similar feature, I believe.

    – Leo
  55. With respect, setting up an Autoresponder from an obsolete but still live account is not really a sound idea as it will give the spammers another string to their bow.

  56. I don’t know why I can’t receive any mail inbox my computer. It always alerts some errors when it’s downloading or uploading (send or receive)from internet. I didn’t know setting an account how is exactly!

  57. I can not sign into to my hotmail. It comes up and asks me to sign in. Then I click signin and it tells me my password is not correct. I haven’t typed in my password. It will not give me a box to type it in. help!

  58. I use gmail, hotmail and yahoo, and I get very little spam. I only use the gmail address for signing up to things, nothing personal, and even then I don’t get much in the way of spam, mainly from junky things I signed up to and don’t want anymore so marked as spam. Obviously back up, but surely if you have all your emails set to forward to each free email address you have, even if one goes down you’re fine? Anyway, Thunderbird is also free.

  59. I have all kinds of e-mail accounts, several free ones and also several with my own domains through web hosting. In the past I also worked for international huge companies and was doomed to use what their IT department considered the best fit. Quite frankly, your answer from, let me guess 2004, is totally outdated. My favorite is definitely gmail with more than 7 GB free, great search features, the option to have my mail local either through gears or Thunderbird yet still available anywhere I can get Internet access. What a great combination of features for free. If Google would ask for $10 / year I would happily pay that for one account and give up the catch all e-mails. But even the subscription only e-mails are almost spam free. Google did a great job with filtering!
    Having used gmail since beta, it is the best e-mail service I ever had. Yahoo is OK but much more restricted. Hotmail I can’t comment and I have little desire to go there.
    IMHO, it is very tough to beat gmail!!

  60. Dear Leo,

    I would like to take your advice and “spend a little each month to get a “real” email account from a regular ISP or mail service”

    But I don’t know where to get this

    Please be so kind as to name several of them that you think are good, or at least worthy of consideration

    In your article on Online Storage, you did name several specific companies that you consider to be reputable

    Can you please do the same for email services with good customer support ?

    thank you

    You mean, this article? What for-pay email providers do you recommend?

  61. For years I’ve used “throwaway” free web-based email accounts for occasional things also. And I’ve been 99% spam-free; I’m not kidding! I guessed a long time ago that it has to do with clicking on nearby items on the page (anything other than what’s in the actual composing area). I NEVER EVER click on anything I don’t have to click on when I am using free web-based accounts. I remember the first time I learned this. I clicked on an article about finances and suddenly I was deluged with spam that had to do with finances. Can’t get any clearer than that. (However I don’t tend to give out my address to places that might spam me either.) So you might consider starting over with a new address if you are overwhelmed by spam and just promise yourself you will not click on anything that is not reserved for writing/receiving emails (no news, no advertisements,…). If you must read something, open a new window and find it another way. Don’t use the links!

  62. I have three “free” email accounts with no problem. Windows Live Hotmail and Opera Web Mail are the two best of the three that I have. Yahoo!, on the other hand, gives me tons of spam. I open the box just to check for anything important, then delete them. On Hotmail, I seldom get any junk mail, and Opera Mail is just as good as Hotmail, seldom do I receive junk. The only reason that I keep Yahoo! is for general email and one that I can freely give out. But they do a decent job of filtering the junk from the good.

  63. I use Outlook, but want to have web based access when traveling. How can I do that?

    Contact your email service provider (i.e. the service that provides you with your email address). Many often include web access as well.


  64. How do we balance this advice on “Free Email” with the issue of paid ISP email addresses becoming unavailable if I change my ISP. This has often been highlighted as one of the benefits of web based addresses independant of the ISP companies, so that it always remains my address even if I make a change of provider.

  65. I can definitely tell you that having Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, or isn’t always worthwhile. I have blocked each of those domains from my own email, due to too much spam coming from all of them. Unfortunately gmail is the biggest account for spammers in the world, and they list hotmail addresses as their contact addresses a lot of times. If you’re going to have a free email account make sure you can filter out domains as well as specific email addresses and names that may be used in the body, to make sure you never hear from that spammer again. The above may be popular domains for emailers but they are becoming anathema for people who hate spam, phishers and scammers, despite the legitimacy of these domains.

  66. Quite to the point i would say!

    although, your prediction about GMail falling into the same Yahoo/Hotmail crap-trap is somewhat not true! Agreed that GMail addresses are being widely used to send/receive spam, still the email service is keeping up to it’s service standards.
    Add to that POP3, IMAP, AutoForward, Plus style addressing, Custom Sender/Reply address, and recently Offline Access and Integration with google docs, and all this along with a clean simply intuitive and seemingly fast interface. This i think is a good enough FREE! Especially when you only get most of these in Yahoo/Hotmail’s premium service!


  67. I appreciate your explanation of what you see as the “costs” of free (web-based) email services. However, I disagree with most of your points, at least as far as Gmail is concerned. I have been using Gmail for almost all my personal email since 2005, and with the improvements made over the years, most of the “costs” you list are zero.

    Spam – Sure, I get lots of spam in my Gmail account, but 99% of it is automatically isolated from the Inbox and tagged as Spam. The only reason I ever need to look at it is to ensure that a non-spam message that I care about is incorrectly identified as spam (which happens about once a month). I get FAR more spam in the Inbox at my employer’s Outlook email system.

    Deliverability – I have never had a problem in this regard.

    Customer service – Great online help services, tutorials, etc are provided by Google and others (including you!). There is virtually no other sort of “customer service” with any software these days!

    Limits and restrictions – Gmail now has Offline mode, which gives you everything locally with exactly the same interface and auto-syncs when you’re online again. Plus it now uses HTTPS for (reasonably) secure transmissions. With all the free storage, there’s no need to move my email address. Contacts can be moved about as easily as with any other program. I never get a problem with the size of an attachment (25MB max!). Searching mail is fast and accurate. Labels are much better than folders, especially now that they also function more like folders (“Move to”). It is well integrated with Chat (including voice and video), calendar and other functions.

    I could go on, but I’ll just say that I think Gmail is not only free in the monetary sense, but also free of the “costs” you identify.

  68. I use Yahoo mail, they now offer a paid for service, the main benefit to me is POP3/SMTP and forwarding as well as being ad free. I also read something about having another email address, but that may be in the free version too (I already use the disposable addresses). I’m not sure whether it’s worth it to pay for Yahoo or if I should just make the effort to get my own domain. Any comments?

  69. I have had a Hotmail address for many years, sure I get a bunch of junk, but most of it is filtered to my junk account, where I peruse the senders to see if it is in fact not junk. Mostly an inconvenience, just have to delete the junk messages, they aren’t opened unless they appear legitimate, or it is forwarded to the government’s junk mail listing for spam/phishing. Sure you get the odd Nigerian Scam, but so what? The bank phishing emails are from banks I do not have an account with, so no harm there. messages about viagra, member lengtheening, etc are obvious junk and probably not even about the subject listed. An occasional email about someone wanting to meet me on Facebook, I know is not legitimate–I have no Facebook account and am not responsding to someone whogives a first name only that I have no idea who they are. My Yahoo account is my ISP’s account, which I download via Outlook, since I have been a Hotmail subscriber for so long, I can do the same with it, but don’t. If I want to save it I forward it to myself at the other address, again time consuming, but not dangerous. Customer Service from Hotmail is not bad, I have had to contact them before and they responded. Hotmail has a listing, that is edited by the user, of safe addresses to receive mail from, much of the rest is sent to the Junk folder.
    I could have more from my ISP, but haven’t figured out a need for such. Between work and two personal accounts that is more than I need now. I don’t use Google for anything.

  70. I have had (over the years) quite a few e-mail addresses, from both MSN and Yahoo. My only gripe about any of them, was I once lost a Hotmail account because of a forced absense from the internet.
    I have not used Google’s e-mail, for one reason – the amount of tracking Google are reported to do.
    I don’t use ANY of the toolbars available from the ‘big three’ either, for the same reason.

  71. I have been a Hotmail subscriber for more than ten years, many of them at the premium level. With Microsoft’s new SkyDrive integration and Word Web App for Microsoft Office, it is almost impossible to avoid this service. I also rely on Google’s services, mostly Docs, which are tied into my GMail account, which is linked to and runs my Droid phone. I do have a personal email address from a reliable company, but, knowck wood, I haven’t had any issues with Hotmail or Google so far. And if I did, even though I have multiple back-ups, I fear I would be lost without MS Office online service and Google Docs.

  72. I also have used Hotmail since it was first offered back in the 90’s. It has outlived several ISPs and corporate addresses. It is quick to scan from my phone (ATT8925), and until recently easy to use with outlook express. Of course, with a replacement desktop comes Windows7 and no email client. The web based hotmail stinks. I see to get a mail client you have to jerk around and find msoe.dll from vista 64 and jerk around some more to get it to work. Alternatively I suppose there is Outlook from Office. I need something to get the lamo sync on win7 for my phone. Sort of like being prodded into the Office cattle chute. Or, use the FREE online crap MYLIVEPHONE or what they call it this week beta.

    But, it is free. I do manage to get email in and out of the phone at convenient wifi hotspots without paying att for data rates. Its free and worth what I pay for it. I guess?

    You don’t have to play around with msoe.dll to get a desktop email program. There are literally hundreds of options. Two for starters: you can download Windows Live Mail, and you can download Thunderbird. Both are free.


  73. I’ve had a Hotmail address from day one. My address is almost in the j_smith [email address removed]… category.
    Hotmail stinks. It is seemingly incapable of filtering spam. Furthermore, some companies I do IT support for actually insist on filtering and rejecting mail from because it’s the weapon of choice for spammers. Poor students sending their CV to those customers and poor suppliers trying to do business.
    I have a POP3 email account and I have a GMail account and I use my Gmail as the client for my POP3. Brilliant and effective. I’ve had my GMail account since I was invited by Google on about day 3 (I have a user name like john.smith.j).
    GMail filters out almost all spam – I get about one per month at most which isn’t too bad considering I get about eighty per day.
    My Yahoo mail is clunky and I seldom use it – I keep it for a rainy day.
    My old email address disappeared when I ditched my old ISP (of course). I’ll never use ISP mail again. EVER!
    The day Google disappears will be the same day other momentous events occur that will make email the least of our concerns.

  74. Dualing hotmail accounts: I learned this trick ages ago. I have a legit hotmail accound that is known to the world, friends, family, and endless junk and spam. I also have a secret hotmail account with a user name like, “ZXC123VBN@hotmail.” I have never sent anything FROM that second account. It is only used to receive mail from me. I attach important files and send. No, not the only copy. But I have a web based mail system with important data that I can reach from anywhere. And since it has never been used to ‘send’ mail, it never ‘gets’ mail. No spam, no junk, nothing.

  75. Having had and used many computers over the last 50 years, it seems to me that the only way to keep important mail/documents/photos is to PRINT them out! All other media have the uncanny habit of becoming unreadable after about 10 years, if not less. Thanks, Gutemberg!

  76. What is your opinion of email offered by an Internet Service Provider that doesn’t manage the email themselves, but instead delivers email service via Google Apps? (A link with more info is below.)

    My ISP still manages their own email servers, but over the past year they have been encouraging subscribers to “upgrade” to the new email service which is a rebadged GMail service. What is your assesment of the support level or “risks” involved if using this hybrid of free mail and ISP managed email?

    I do know that with my particular ISP, once you upgrade to the GMail based email, they will not switch your account back to the previous, ISP managed service.

    Google Apps is basically GMail and other Google Services branded for the various service providers that are using it. I’ve heard of companies and even schools moving to it. What I care about is support: when something goes wrong will your ISP help you? Will anyone help you? Since you’re paying money to your ISP I would clarify this with them before making any decisions.

  77. Hotmail has now lost the ability to check message source before opening. So, there is no way to determine if a suspect message is a problem. The properties element on right click was a very useful security tool. Also, to bundle everything together, as in the latest version, is asking for trouble. I only use it for very limited puropses these days. Seems a classic case (for Microsoft) of overcomplicating and removal of useful aspects from something that used to work and do the job needed.

    I still see “View Message Source” under Actions when you view the message.


  78. Hi any news on being able to get the source of messages? I go to actions – view message source & I am still having the same old problem error message Unable to download GetMessageSource.aspxfrom I am using windows 7 I have tried ie 34 bit and 64 bit

  79. Leo, in your many articles on the subject of using your own domain for your email address and forwarding through your Gmail account to get spam filtering, you rarely mention SENDING email. (I can’t find the time that I remember you mentioning that.)

    The problem that I have with your method is in SENDING out email that has my proper email address. I can specify a “REPLY TO:” address, but that doesn’t guarantee the receiver of the email will be REPLYING to that address. SENDING has much to do with your OUTGOING EMAIL SERVER. I can’t seem to be able to SEND an email that is received by another with the address of my DOMAIN while using Google’s OUTGOING EMAIL SERVER.

    Have you solved that problem? Could you share that solution? Thanks!

  80. For children I’ve been using GMail with an application that I’ve written myself to control their contacts. The children never log on to the GMail interface and do not see the ads. They only get emails from the contacts that you control. I’ve made it available for others –


  81. for many years, I have used hotmail ( but I have the pay-for version). I use it in conjunction with Incredimail.
    In this manner I download copies of my emails on to my laptop and/or desktop ( remember to uncheck the box ” delete message from server” ).

    I manage to keep spam to a minimum this way using hotmail filters, I am able to use a generic throw-away hotmail account , and then still have a backup copy in my incredimail files on the computer.

  82. I use Gmail’s POP service to deliver mail to my to my desktop client but have it set to send mail via my ISP’s SMTP service. Best of both worlds I’m not restricted by Gmail’s sending limits or my ISP’s minute inbox & receive absolutely no spam.

  83. Can i read email messages stored on my machine
    using anything but MSN mail? Are there programs
    for that.

    My MSN mail takes 1/2 hour to start up
    or 3 to 4 trys so i want to get out of it. I have been on the phone with them for 2 hours reloading and testing etc
    and nothing works.

    You should be able to use a POP3 email client like Thunderbird, Outlook or similar, or the downloaded program Windows Live Mail to fetch your email. “MSN mail” is somewhat ambiguous, but if you mean Windows Live Hotmail the settings are here: What are Windows Live Hotmail’s POP3 and SMTP settings?


  84. I’ve always used free email accounts, and have never been locked out, or had any of the terrible things happen that’s been described on Ask Leo. I suppose that I’m lucky.

    But as far as getting spammed goes, Yahoo is the worst there is, followed by Opera Mail (now FastMail). One can get the paid FastMail account & not get ads, plus have spam control.

    AOL hasn’t been bad, neither has Hotmail (my oldest account). Hotmail has always been reliable (for me), most spam is properly placed in the “junk” folder, and I have a ton of space. I also have the Windows Live Mail 2011 & Outlook 2010 installed, but seldom use them. I’d rather go through the browser, but I realize that some users needs a program.

    But out of the whole lot, GMail is the best. Great spam control, lots of space, plus totally FREE calls within the US & Canada. That’s a lot for a free email provider, all that one can ask for.

    Yes, I do believe that free email services are worth it, but the user must take precautions, such as backing up important emails & drafts. USB flash drives are inexpensive (4GB for less than $10), this makes a great backup place. Plus, always print a copy of important things. Never solely rely on storing important items in your “draft” folder. Never.


  85. Good article.
    I have been on computers sense 1994, just before W95.
    I have seen a lot of changed, good, and a lot of bad.
    As much as I can not stand gmail for issues that I will not get into here, they have the best free email as stated here by some of you guys. And you can get your email via https, and that should be of a help in open networks like in coffee houses, and libraries.
    But if you really want to have a good, and secure email, look at But be warned, to use it POP, it cost 50 bucks a year.
    Another good free email that you can get better levels with, and pay for the privlage is I am trying to talk with them and see if I can use it with Thunderbird, or if its webmail only. But I will tell you that for the good stuff with that service, you would been to use the webmail.
    Netzero/Juno is not bad, with Megamail Plus you can get video mail, and pretty good spam protection, but do not bother with the free. ITs open season on you, with I am sure NO spam protection. I get almost a 100 bits of spam, mostly versions of the Nigerian money thing.

    But, if you really use the internet for communication, and use email rather then phone, and really need to KNOW that your messages are secure, and you NEED the email address to be working, pay for it. Really. Even gmail has a paid version that I understand no only gives tech support for the services, but really improves service. So if you are a business, or what ever, take a good, hard look at that.

    Oh and Hotmail, Live, and MSN mail? Screw them. ITs a horror trying to change email addresses if you need too, and even more so changing your contacts to another Microsoft email based address. I think that they make it hard on purpose. They have improved some services, and email is one of them. But they make it hard to do anything with once you get an address.
    One last thing, be sure that your security sutie/AV will work with your email client, even if there is AV server side. If you look at the told of, say a Norton box, you will see that they have very limited coverage with email programs. And pretty much no one plugs into the Live essentials mail, even MS’s own AV. And that also will include anti spam software. And be sure that you newbies understand, Windows mail is not the same as the Live Essentials mail.

    Maybe Leo can, when he has the time can advise us what he things of the different program, and the email protection that they provide?

    I use plain test, both sending, and receiving, but not everyone does.

    Sorry to be so long winded guys, But I have been going threw email hell this week, and I have been looking myself to get this cleared up.

    Take care. ;-)

  86. I’ve had the same provider since 1999. They filter my spam and get rid of it after 14 days, if necessary. I can talk to a real person if I need to, either chat or phone. And they donn’t charge an arm and a leg!! It doesn’t get any better than this. Who needs the “free” stuff?

  87. hello
    I want to comform you I lost my password,please I want to help how I find my email password
    MY EMAIL.are {email address removed}
    and my password was 123fox2007
    please send my my password if u want to know the pepole are in my box i will tallig you as soon thanks your helping

    PS…what is my verification code about my email all the information send me this email, {email address removed} about my pasword lost thanks

    ypur sincerely

  88. Hi Leo,
    Quick question – if you do not sign into hotmail messenger for many months is it possible for a previous chat screen (where you chatted with another contact) to just ‘pop up’ if you have not signed in? This happened Sunday – I had a really bad internet connection and finally when my laptop connected an old chat message just popped up.

    Thanks in advance,


    Quite possibly if you’ve continued to use other Windows Live services (like, say, Hotmail) – it’s all one account, and thus using one keeps them all more-or-less active.

  89. Wow, Leo! You have the patience of Job {negative comment removed}

    I came over here as your article about Hotmail’s new POP3/SMTP servers turned up in Google ABOVE any results from Microsoft! Go figure! And I was looking for such an article to support my argument at iOpus Macros who’ve kindly listed a ‘Top-5 Free POP3/SMTP email service providers’ but rejected Hotmail because they, apparently, still don’t know about the “new” development.

    Oh! And my two Rupees worth in the above discussion – for ‘First Worlders’ a few tens of Dollars a month for ’email security’ could probably be justified but for ‘Third Worlders’ like me – I’ve been using Hotmail in combination with Outlook Express since 1998 WITHOUT INCIDENCE. I have ALL the emails from THEN until NOW! And, it’s not like I still use the same computer – since we ‘Third Worlders’ weren’t even offered branded computers until the 21st century (I’m talking about individuals not companies) ALL of US used assembled computers which were ALWAYS cheaper than branded even when they became available, as also now – I upgraded various parts of the computer I had when I started using Hotmail with Outlook Express, eventually replacing the entire desktop. And now, I use a ‘cheap’ Taiwanese laptop. But even so, I taught myself to migrate ALL my email EVERY TIME – and I don’t just have a Hotmail account, I have a Yahoo, 3, and 5 Gmail accounts – ALL FREE and ALL POP3/SMTP! Yes, even the Yahoo account, they had a scheme where they offer POP3 access in return for agreeing to accept their “marketing emails” alias spam.

    In fact, I could then and even now, just about manage to pay for the computer, the Internet access and the electricity before running out of money for software and services… you get the drift ;-)

    And the ‘Net access is like our roads – highway for us but a cycling path for you. I mean can you imagine what would happen if even just the Indians with Internet access, a mere 7% of our population, ALL had broadband at, say, an MB/s? 7% of 1.2 BILLION! Whip out the calculator and do the math…

    Oh, and I did read your ‘Tos’ underneath the comments box ;-P

  90. Okay, we are told free email is not good. Fine, but what is suggested? I read the article and never found any recommendations. I have an email account from my ISP, but what good is that? So, I have to stay with them forever? What good is that?

  91. @Bob
    Here is a paragraph from this same article which give Leo’s recommendation.

    “If your email is actually important to you, particularly if your email address is something important to you, then spend a little and get a “real” email account, ideally by purchasing your own domain. (Once you own your own domain you never need change your email address again, and can still use a plethora of email services – including free – to manage your email.) A great rule of thumb is that any email account that has real customer support – a telephone number and a real person answering it – is an immediate step up from most free email services. This could include your ISP’s email services, a for-pay mail service or any of a number of other alternatives. Depending on the provider, each one of the ‘costs’ I list above will at least be diminished, if not eliminated.”

  92. Hi I’ve checked my account settings, they seem to be ok. All emails I sent to those who have optusnet, bounce back. What to do ? Thanks a lot

  93. FYI – Mrs. and I have been using IncrediMail for most of twenty years, and rarely have an issue with it. As with anything PC related, common sense is NOT an option.

    My question, however, is this: I started saving my emails into individual folders OUTSIDE of IncrediMail, for exactly the reasons in your article – I something happens to IncrediMail, all my emails are still available to me as *.eml files. The problem is that saving them this way is obviously a laborious task. Does there exist a utility that will look at my inbox and automatically get all emails from “Bob” and put them into my “Bob” folder on my D: drive, and get all my “Ask Leo” newsletters and put them into my “Ask Leo” folder on my D: drive?

    That would be SUCH a time saver, as well as protecting my emails from the inevitable email client crash.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

  94. I have a hotmail account, but it is not “free”. I pay a small annual fee and have never had a problem. Do other people have a problem with this paid hotmail, or is that not germane to the issue. By the way, $19.95 a year is about as close to free as you can get.

    Some (though not all) of the free services have a paid “upgrade”. My hope is that one of the things that gets you is better customer service. But by-and-large the problems I hear about relate to the truly free versions.

  95. FREE email is just that——FREE and you get what you pay for……….I have had an MSN email account for over 10 years. It’s not expensive, comes with extras, plenty of storage and it’s reliable, safe and secure……..just do an internet search for MSN Premium, download the software arrange for monthly billing and you will be “up & running” in no time.

  96. Dear Leo
    I disagree entirely with your analysis. I was initially impressed by the fact that offered an entirely FOC service (upgradeable for a modest sum) and were able to offer me an address without a hard to remember numeric (partly because fortunately I jumped on back in 2007 before others saw sense).
    I have stuck with the free version which steadily allowed me more and more space so I have never had to delete a single item or attachment. Also easy spam control and all tech hitches (could count them on one hand) cleared up same day,
    They recently made a lot of useful and amusing domain names available: I created the one I gave with this post just this afternoon partly to get around a spam filter set by an ante-deluvian system administrator who has set as a spam source. Had requested they change their rule, but after a couple of days kinda liked the idea of a crafty and ironic sidestep. thoroughly recommended for all uses.

  97. I agree entirely. I purchased my domain almost ten years ago from 1and1 and added the email package and have no problems! I manage everything, have access to 24hr customer support, and it all interfaces easily with Outlook and MS Mail so I have a copy on my server and locally in Outlook. I too have “free” emails in order to use certain services of the providers. I have a lot of people ask me why pictures or other attachments won’t go through and in most cases it has to do with the volume or size limitations set by the “free” email providers…I have no problem with this using the emails setup through my domain. Thanks again for the newsletter!

  98. I’ve been a Gmail user since it’s inception and I’ve never had a single major issue with it. Most of the issues I’ve had have been with changes that I haven’t liked but have eventually gotten used to. But even paid ISP email accounts have that problem, you need a POP email program and eventually it will get changed and you might not like the changes. Gmail offers excellent spam filtering (which you mention) good security and recovery options and, combined with Android devices and Google’s other services (Calendar, Drive and Docs to mention a few) can make a person’s mobile life slick and seamless.

    Yea, I sound like a shill for Google, but I’m not. I’m just a self employed tech specialist who’s on the road a lot and has come to both appreciate and rely on Google services and devices.

  99. Two points. The one time my credit card info was stolen and used, the person opened an erroneous Yahoo free email account in my name to process the online purchase. Yet another reason free email is bad for everybody. Second point is the perception of free email being used by a business. It makes the business look cheap and incompetent. They can’t afford a few bucks for a paid account, much less their own site. I don’t see it that they can’t be bothered with email. I see it that they aren’t doing very well, which begs the thought, wonder if I should do business with them, if they’re that unprofessional.

  100. I use a Yahoo email account for a model aircraft club and we get almost no spam.
    Mi isp (one of the big ones in UK) recently admitted, when I complained, that their spam filters do not work! I get piles of spam from them; in an attempt to cut it down, I check my mail on the server and noticed that, when I designate messages as spam, they aren’t moved to my spam folder, but to my trash, meaning that their senders are not identified as spammers and that there is no diminution of spam. I’m still wondering whether they will ever get their service redesigned with spam filters……..they say they have no target date. This is absurd!

  101. @Al
    In some cases, when you designate mail as spam and it goes into the trash, it is being marked as spam. The spam information is saved, but the spam mail is sent directly to the trash as a convenience so you don’t have to have to review it again in the spam folder. This is how I have my email program set up, and that’s what might be happening in your ISP’s case.

  102. The article seems to focus on Webmail accounts, which I don’t use. Comcast’s Webmail cannot forward e-mails with attachments. Verizon’s “Spam detector” had to be turned off for the account of a friend to whom I provide tech support because it started blocking the address of a long-time friend. Telling it the “spam” was NOT spam had no effect. For that and other reasons, I and all the people I support use (free) e-mail clients, like Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, etc. With a client, the ISP’s server can blow up with no loss of the user’s e-mails or address book.

  103. The best free email service in my opinion is still AOL. Nowadays it is often overlooked and was not even mentioned in your article. What makes it the best is that you can have all the features and services associated with paid email services. You can even manage your mail with an email client that supports iMap (i.e. Outlook). Any time you wish to receive tech support, you can instantly get it by paying a small monthly charge. You can later opt back out to a free account once you no longer need the support. The free account even allows you to save email off-line via the free AOL software. Setup of an AOL account (even if you need to migrate from another service) is incredibly easy. There are many more benefits of AOL membership whether free or paid that I won’t discuss here, but I have been a member since 1996 during which time I have dabbled with Gmail (2 accounts), Yahoo, and others, but none have ever tempted me to switch.

  104. As far as I’m concerned I would never spend a cent on an EMail account. I have never ever received any service of any value from paid EMail accounts providers, EVER. Now as for the Free Email account providers; nowadays there are ample ways to filter the unwanted Emails: the major ones all have writable rules to block them. Additionally, for those with real sensitive needs or with more than domestic needs, I suggest getting a Real Software such as MS OUTLOOK or any other that does the same. You set that up as POP / STMP and forget the IMAP thing and you will have your Emails safe on your PC where you can keep them, cipher them as you wish for your own security or privacy needs. The PAID accounts will not give you that either. So, in conclusion go FREE and get yourself a good software to manage your additional needs.

  105. I don’t get how this works, anybody know?
    Quote from article:
    “Google’s SPAM filters are (as I write this# the best that I’ve seen at correctly filtering out spam. So much so that I actually route all of my email through a Google account specifically for this purpose. #Before you cry foul, realize that I’m not relying on Gmail – I’m using my own email addresses on my own domain.”

  106. @ L J Cooper
    Thunderbird is not an email account. It is an email program which can be used just like Outlook as an alternative means of accessing your email account. It is free, while Outlook has a price, but they both do the same things in relation to the messages in your email account.

  107. “It really begs the question – are free email services like Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Google Mail and others worth the cost?”
    Since Aristotle’s time, “to beg the question” has meant “to
    reason circularly.” The semi-literate seem to think the phrase has something to do with posing a question. It does not.

  108. I have been with Leo for a number of years now and, for the most part, have never questioned the need for any of the problems submitted to him. Today, however, I really cannot believe my eyes – I have only had a computer for six years but in all that time I have never had an email problem using Yahoo Mail. In fact, I am absolutely delighted with their free service and count myself very lucky to have this medium for contact.

  109. I have used both and since 2006 with minimal problems. I use IMAP and have found them to be great. Inbox has 5 GB and GMX has unlimited storage too. They both have spam filters, white list and black list filters which are user configurable. Combines with Seamonkey or Thunderbird, I get minimal unwanted mail.

  110. @Steve asked “I don’t get how this works, anybody know?” about using gmail as spam filter. Here’s how…

    – Setup gmail to receive email from external account (like your own domain)
    – gmail spam filters work on all email
    – download all gmail (consolidated from all accounts) to your PC using applications like Outlook or Thunderbird.

    Easy, isn’t it? :)

  111. @BaliRob,

    You said, “I have never had an email problem using Yahoo Mail”. I’m glad you’re having a great experience, but I think your problem in understanding Leo here is that you’ve never had a problem. If or when you have a service problem is the crux of the issue. I’ve been using Gmail since my invitation (it used to be by invite only that one could get a Gmail account) and I’ve never had a problem either and I too couldn’t be happier. I also understand that if something happens to my account, because it’s a free service, I’m up-a-creek as they say. HTH.

  112. I do not have a cell phone.
    Both Yahoo and GMail now seem to require a cell phone to sign up.
    What free E-mail services can I use when I have no cell phone?

  113. @ Gabe – Yes, I did get the tenor of the subject but my point is that it is a FREE service which gets overlooked when users complain. It is a wonderful facility and has done much to keep the world ‘in touch’. Thanks by the way for being the first to directly contact me on this forum.

  114. @James
    I don’t think a cell phone number is a requirement with GMail and Yahoo. I opened a GMail account a couple of weeks ago, and including a cell phone number was simply an option for more protection. If you want to know a good alternative to the big three email providers, I’ve had great experience with

  115. Firstly, if one is moving about through different countries you can have problems using your home ISP in another country. For instance my Canadian one listed above is refused at times in the US when I arrempt to use it. Other friends have had similar problems with their ISPs while in US or Mexico. Using a free service such as hotmail as a backup solves this.
    I have seen no mention of the valuable translation services provided by hotmail.
    I have had two ISPs I paid for: one of them, pocketmail, was destroyed by hackers and I lost many treasured emails The second one which provides my internet service, has sent me more spam and possible viruses than my yahoo,hotmail and gmail together.
    My current beef with gmail is that I cannot read or figure out their new format so will end it soon.
    Enjoyed reading the article and almost ten years of comments.

  116. I use my Yahoo email for my Yahoo and my Google accounts (and I think my Microsoft account). I don’t have GMail because I haven’t found the option to create a GMail account without having a cellphone. Why they have this policy, I don’t know. Other service providers allow you to use an alternate email address to confirm your identity and secure your account. GMail is the only one who insists on having a cellphone number. I have to wonder why.

    All three accounts have separate passwords, so compromising one will not compromise the others.

    • Gmail will allow you to create an account with a landline phone or a cell phone. They can send a voice message to either. But Yahoo DOES require a mobile phone.

    • A couple of years back, I went to the US on holiday from the UK unaware of Google’s nanny state of mind. I tried to access my Google account and was blocked by Google because I was no longer in the UK. The ONLY way to overcome at the time this was to get a text from Google on my mobile phone. So I was stuffed. Why is a world-wide service such as Google apparently unaware that the rest of the world don’t use US phone frequencies so many phones don’t work?

      • I never had a problem with my European phone in the US. It appears you are using a phone which is limited to European frequencies. Smart phones generally don’t have this problem.

  117. I have been using the free hotmail service since God wore short pants. Since ? about 1990. it has improved day by day everyday to the present “” and is still improving. It was once very limited as to storage. That now seems virtually unlimited as I have many thousands of emails stored in folders there. And it now has every feature under the sun, including a “sweep” feature I like very much. In all that time I have had no problems. I don’t understand how anyone can not like such an excellent free service. (I have never worked for Microsoft and not a fan of their other offerings, like their many flawed versions of Windows.)

    • I use both Gmail and, with desktop Outlook 2003 as a client.

      Pros : beautiful interface from a graphic point of view, aesthetically pleasing.
      Cons : typically Microsoft when it comes to ease of use (ie : you can’t find things, they are never where you expect them ; why make it simple while you can have lots of fun confusing people ?), or when trying to annoy users “for their own good” (one of my pet peeves : you can’t copy and paste usernames and passwords from a password manager to log in, the right-click is disabled ; however, you can CTRL-C CTRL-V !). Help is scarce.


      Pros : tries to be open and standard, new features tend to help people rather than pull the rug from under them, plenty of help available.
      Cons : ugly interface, untidy screen, does not measure up with the quality of the service.

  118. he best web based free email services are on at

    I have been using them for over 15 years and no prolems.

    They have about 70 individual servvices are big andprovide user service for their free email

    Spam is minimal

  119. Leo, you said “Keep your recovery information up-to-date. This one is hard to stress enough.” I wholeheartedly concur with that one. You mentioned that a day doesn’t go by without hearing about a problem someone is having with a lost freemail account. From what I’ve seen, the vast, vast majority lost their accounts because they forgot their passwords or were hacked and they didn’t have an up-to-date phone or recovery email address. I have at least 3 recovery address and an up-to-date cell number for my important email accounts.

  120. I once had an email address from the Company which used to provide me with mobile telephone services. Without warning, they cancelled my account! Now, I have several email addresses with Gmail, Yahoo and Microsoft. I daily download email using Thunderbird. It works!

  121. Thank you for this topic. For several years my ISP included a premium Yahoo account with the bundle and that featured Addressguard (normally costing a few bucks a year) which was fantastic. It offers unlimited unique mail addresses under one main address and no ads.

    Now my ISP changed so I use GMail. GMail is a great free service however it lacks true unique addresses. You can put periods in the address and add “+” a word but not as many sites accept those kind of addresses and the feature is nowhere near as good as Addressguard in other respects.

    Now that Yahoo has been hacked more than once, a lot of people hesitate to use it and that’s a shame because Addressguard is the best service out there in my humble opinion. In fact I’d still be using it except I can no longer access my old Verizon account and a new account requires a cellphone number which I don’t have.

    • A note about the “.” in a Gmail address. Gmail treats the dot as if it didn’t exist, for example an email sent to samplename[at],[at] or s.a.m.p.le.n.a.m.e[at] would all go to your samplename[at] account.

  122. Rather ironic that this should have been raised at this time. I did not consider my email address to be free as it is part of the service offered by EE, along with my mobile, landline, and broadband. However, EE has decided to close down its mail servers on May 31st, so I have had to get a new email address (a Gmail one). They haven’t even told me yet – I found out by chance!

    I am using my Gmail address as a POP3 connection to Outlook 2010, so my emails will still be stored on my PC as before (full disk backup performed weekly!)

  123. Nowhere in your article did you tell us what an paid email service is. I can’t think of any myself unless you count my cable service provider.

  124. I’ve seen a few websites that require that your credentials be manually entered in their logon processes. While this may seem like a good way to hinder automated hacking, it also prevents password managers (mine, at least (Roboform)) from automatically filling in the form, nor can I copy/paste from the PM’s store. And if your password is a 17-character complex string, it’s a real pain in the fingers to enter it manually. I have complained; in one case the firm changed their ways. In others, I stopped dealing with them.

  125. In reference to not writing the password down, ever: My sister has the talent for getting me gifts that look and sound good, but are totally useless. This last Christmas, one of the things she got me was a small book for logging my internet sites, web addresses, and PASSWORDS. I don’t know why she thought it was a good idea, but I won’t use it.

  126. Thanks for the very useful information Leo!

    I only use ‘free’ email accounts to hide my identity when needed.

    I’ve my own domain without website, just for my regular mail accounts. Whatever happens to my provider…. I simply transfer my domain to another provider and change my settings in Outlook. My whole PC is backed up on a daily base using Acronis, odd days on external disk G, even days on disk H, after completing the backup the disks are stored in different, safe locations, each disk has two full backups.

  127. Good advice here. I have been doing exactly this recently–Gmail handles my email from various other accounts, and several domains that I have forwarded to Gmail by One thing on the ads. I routinely use Adblock Plus and it works well in Chrome to prevent any ads from intruding on Gmail–I don’t see any within Gmail. With regard to writing down passwords I suspect that for many people it is perfectly safe–probably far safer than reusing passwords at least. I suspect it is also safer than online password services for many of us. What are the chances of your home being burglarized? And, even if it were, what are the chances someone will know to steal your password book? For that matter, sticky notes on the computer are probably pretty safe too, for most of us. I suspect the chances of a typical thief wanting to access my computer close to zero living where I do. I don’t think my father, who lives nearby, has locked his house in years. He writes things down but has so many notebooks and scribbles of paper that any thief wanting to steal that stuff would need a vacuum cleaner to collect the right things. Myself, I use a password manager, but for many people writing them down is perfectly safe.

  128. Leo, Thanks for the informative article!

    I’ve been using free email for personal use ever since I began around 1999 or so, beginning with Yahoo & AOL. Today, these are the accounts I use for when needed for a free software offering, because I know will be spammed like crazy. Marissa Mayer had the chance to turn things around, and for a couple of months it seemed as such, then it went right back to the garbage again.

    Today, some of these once prominent corporations are now a magnet for not only spammers, also pages loaded with Malware, as Malwarebytes has blocked several of these from loading. I never click onto any ads in my email, and for that matter, have an adblocker installed, so that most, I don’t see. This doesn’t imply that the page is safe, and adblockers doesn’t prevent emails opened, this is where having common sense comes in, along with a layer of strong (active) AV + AM protection installed. Malwarebytes Premium now has Anti-Ransomware and other features built in, however that doesn’t mean that one should feel safe about opening suspicious emails.

    Example, unless one ordered an item from South America, FedEx won’t send an email in regards to a ‘lost’ package from there, or anywhere else. This is where the powerful Spam filter that you referenced to in GMail comes in, rarely, if ever, do I see these in my Inbox, same with my Outlook email, and the one from my ISP, EarthLink, isn’t bad, however I don’t like their use of a short password. It’s easier to create a strong password when there’s more space to do so.

    Also backups of any email service are good & wise to do. Fortunately, have both Outlook & GMail on several computers, I also use their free storage options, and GMail has a truly free calling service that can be added to the service, the caveat is that one can call out, though one cannot be called, ‘Call Phones form GMail’ is a downloadable app, one must install this, log out of GMail & back in to begin the Service. Then one can make free calls across the US & Canada, 100% Free, to landlines & cell phones, no strings attached & can be used on any network.

    With Microsoft, it’s different, Skype to Skype calls are free, though calling others requires a prepaid card, or (not preferred) a credit/debit card linked to one’s Microsoft Account. I’d never do this, and would never advise anyone to. It’s best to purchase Skype cards at retail stores & not give Microsoft financial data, as all activities are retained in their servers for a period. The main reason why I keep Outlook is for the free 30GB of storage, I caught the link a year or so back to stay ‘grandfathered in’ to my plan, which includes 15GB Camera Roll.

    Today, these are the main two services that I use, however I use both with care, and always ‘think before I click’. This is one of the best ways to prevent fatal infections to the OS, as well as regular backup images, though the latter is beyond the scope of the article, Leo has a number of these preaching the need for backup, as an Advisor on the Bleeping Computer site, I do the same.

    Good Luck with your emailing for free, and regardless of free or paid, still use common sense before opening emails. Just because a Service is paid for, that is no guarantee for anything, and the main reason why I chose to stay with free. That yearly (or monthly) payment would be better spent on a decent (well rated) AV + AM software.

    As always, I see that Leo is at his finest here, his (mostly) common sense approach to issues has taught me a lot over the years & the tradition continues to this day.;-)


  129. Gmail’s spam filters are by far the best I have found. is way too aggressive and no matter what I do legitimate emails go into their spam regularly. You can declare them as not spam repeatedly and they still will go straight into spam. Most paid email services I have tried are not as good at spam filtering–even enterprise-grade services and software. The other thing is that with Gmail’s powerful search engine there is absolutely no reason to file anything–just search! It is far quicker and saves lots of filing time. Just leave one huge inbox and use search. That feature alone is worth many hours saved each year.

  130. Have used gmail for several years now & so far have been very happy with their spam
    detection & response. I have used their customer service twice – most recently in regard to
    deletion of old emails by date batch. They were very responsive & even emailed me back
    a day later to see if everything went well!

  131. I have been using Thunderbird for about a year as recommended from a tech at PC Matic and have had no problems with it.

  132. Well I will join in the chorus of ‘Yes’ to free accounts being better these days.
    And in particular, Gmail which has the best spam filter by far, along with more features than I could use in a lifetime.
    I have a variety of ‘paid’ email accounts which I don’t bother to use except on the rare occasion.
    My ISP provides an email account but mail is only stored for 45days!!!!!
    All mail (including that placed for future reference in folders) is deleted on the 45th day.
    Also they used to provide a comprehensive address book. Then one day it was gone along with many vital notes I had made.
    I use address books & notes because my memory is not photographic. All they left me with was the contact name & email address! Not even their phone number was safe.
    Once burned is enough for me. Gmail is happy to store my emails forever it seems. Along with a substantial address book full of notes. Just what my aged failing memory needs!
    Good ol’ google. The downside is no privacy at all, because it watches every little thing I do online.
    Just as well I don’t do anything illegal! 8^/

  133. hi I love all your comment, it is breath of fresh air, to hear about all nomal people like are having the same problem as me.
    My Hotmail been down three week still no support as u say they not contacable
    Then when I conplain they code to bt account that dose get it. or not come through.
    so go to the phone they tex me acode, now my IPhone batties is down 14 month old I am not on contract. so I am sucpered.
    When or if I do get a code Hotmail block my account I cannot put the code because continue is block so Hotmail down for me only get to the box to put code in
    to rebout my Hotmail account sorry about grammar I am disletic so I cannot spell

  134. hi my Hotmail gone wlak about bt not reciving or getting code from Hotmail,i tolf can’not get into code box to resore Hotmail now my IPhone is noy charging any moore so batteries going down same as 4 iPhone .I am not under contract. I live two metre of the canal I can se why jump inn sorry about grammar spelling Etc


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