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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Do I need to have a Google+ profile to use Picasa?

Leo, do you know what the risks of having a Google+ profile are? I’ve always avoided LinkedIn, Facebook, and all the others. Now, to see the photos that I have paid to store on Picasa, I needed to create a Google+ profile. All of a sudden, I’m a social networker against my will. Yes, perhaps I’m a Luddite, but I paid Google for storage not to enter the 21st century. By the way, I filled in false information at every opportunity and added no contacts. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before Google decides to add them for me. The bottom line is can I opt out of Google+ and keep my photos on Picasa? Or do I need another cloud storage site for my photos and docs?

Your question contains a couple of interesting concerns that I would like to address.

Let’s start by talking about social media.

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How Do I Get Rid of Gmail Tabs?

Gmail just turned on some kind of tabbed inbox feature. It’s randomly putting mail into different “categories.” How do I turn that off?

Full disclosure: that was me asking the question.

While I was out on a trip, Google enabled their new “tabbed” inbox. My first reaction?

How do I turn this thing off?

Read moreHow Do I Get Rid of Gmail Tabs?