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.

Read moreAre Free Email Services Worth It?

Why am I suddenly getting spam in my inbox?

Hi, there. I’ve been using my Yahoo email since 2009 and I’ve never had problems with receiving so many spams into my inbox folder. But recently, within like the last two weeks, there was an abrupt influx of some spams claiming that I had won lotteries other that I’m eligible to their belongings and they’re all managing to authenticate themselves to Yahoo’s servers because I’m finding themselves in my inbox folder, not my spam folder. Now I know that these are scams but my question is why is it after all these years of using my email, I’m now encountering this problem?

Spam and spam fighting is a really complex game of cat and mouse. Spammers are constantly trying to find their way into your inbox. I have a few ideas of what could possibly have happened in your situation.

Read moreWhy am I suddenly getting spam in my inbox?

Why Can’t I Set Yahoo! as My Default Mail Program?


Hi, Leo. I’ve followed your instructions in the article, “How do I change the “mailto:” or default mail program?” The newer versions of Yahoo Instant Messenger don’t have a Yahoo! browser services option. I’ve also downloaded that Yahoo toolbar, but the mail plug-in is not available in newer versions. I’m using Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit.

It’s possible that you can no longer do what you’re doing with the latest round of changes to Yahoo Mail. I honestly haven’t looked at it  closely enough to say yes or no, but what you describe sounds exactly like what I would expect if that functionality were removed.

That means that we have to do things a little differently. The whole default mail program is all about a default mail program.

Read moreWhy Can’t I Set Yahoo! as My Default Mail Program?

If My Email Account is Hacked, What Kinds of Things Should I Check?

Leo, in your article about email being hacked and what you need to do, it’s possible that you may have omitted one important problem associated with account hacking: the changed return address. When my Yahoo account was hacked (my own fault, signing in from a fake email), the last thing that I noticed as I restored my account was that they had changed one letter of my name in the return address. If you clicked Reply to any email that I sent out, it went to them and not to my real account address.

Actually, you raise a very interesting and important point. It’s difficult to list all of the things that a hacker could change after they access your account.

Let’s look at a few of the most common things.

Read moreIf My Email Account is Hacked, What Kinds of Things Should I Check?

How Do I Get a New Mail Notification for Yahoo! Mail?

I’m unable to activate the new mail notification on my PC. I clicked on Control Panel and then Sound and Change. I’ve tried many times, but it just won’t work. I’m 82; I live alone; I’m dumb about PCs. Please advise on a simple way to alleviate this problem. Something was said about Messenger and I do have Yahoo Messenger, but still “no go.”

First, please don’t say that you’re dumb.

You’re not dumb about PCs. This is absolutely one of my pet peeves: in my opinion, it just doesn’t help to characterize yourself in derogatory terms like that when all that’s missing is just a little information.

As for your question, unfortunately, there’s no simple way to address that. Let me explain.

Read moreHow Do I Get a New Mail Notification for Yahoo! Mail?