Email Account Providers – How to Choose the Best Provider For Your Needs

Which are the best email account providers for your needs?

There are essentially two types of email account providers:

  • Accounts that give you your own email address such as me(at)mycompany.com and which usually involve purchase of a domain name and/or a hosting fee.
  • Accounts that are provided by web based email account providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo that give you an address such as me(at)yahoo.com. and which are usually free.

Key factors in choosing an account provider:

  • Is it important to have a professional sounding email address?
  • How do you want to view and manage your emails?
  • Do you need to access your email from various locations?
  • Are you likely to change provider or address?
  • Do you need a lot of storage space?
  • What about security?

And now let us look at the options for each of these factors so you know what you need to find out from potential email account providers.

Do you need a professional sounding email address?

NO: If you just need email for personal use or you are happy enough with an address such as me(at)gmail.com then I would advise that you stick with a free webmail email account provider.

Why? Firstly, they are free! They usually give you a very large storage capacity (Gmail is 7.5 GB, Yahoo is unlimited, Hotmail is 5GB) and of course you can access your account from any computer via internet. They also give you a free webmail email client. (To avoid confusion I will refer to email clients that need to be installed on a particular computer, such as Outlook or Live Mail, as installed clients.)

YES: If you need a professional sounding address you can go for a hosting option by a third party provider or you can have your own server. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will generally host your email also. The fees are usually based on a package of hosting plus the space you use on your mailbox.  Once you hit the package limit you pay an additional fee per MB stored. (That is why if you’ve ever worked in a big company they continuously send out requests for you to clean out your email!)

Alternatively you can use a free Gmail account as your server. This is particularly good for small companies or work from home entrepreneurs. You can buy a domain name that comes with multiple email addresses for under $10 per year. Check out your favorite domain name provider for prices. This way you can have your professional sounding email address forward or POP to Gmail and use Gmail PVA Accounts free email client to manage your emails. You can set it up so that it looks as if the emails you send from Gmail are coming from your company address.

How do you want to view and manage your emails?

Again there are big differences between using a webmail client and and installed client. In order to manage the me(at)mycompany.com type emails, most people install an email client on their computers. Many people use Outlook or Windows Live Mail simply because this is the program that comes with their computer package. You can also find free email programs that will do the job just as well and that can work on Linux, Windows and Apple, so if you use different types of computer you can have the same client on them all.

This email client regularly downloads the emails from the mailbox which allows you to work on your emails while offline. A great trick is to synchronize your webmail with an installed client so you can work on or offline but still get your emails from any computer.

Do you need to access your email from various locations?

It is rare for anyone these days to only ever access their email from one computer. The standard setup is to download emails to one particular computer and view them through an installed program such as Outlook or Live Mail etc. but you can also choose to leave the emails on the server. This means you will be able to view them from other computers when you are on the road.

Most email account providers allow for a webmail option so you can view any emails that have not been downloaded to the computer directly from the mailbox. Make sure you check with the email provider if webmail is part of the offer.

 

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