Free Email: POP3, IMAP, Web, or Forwarding
ISP independent email address with POP3, IMAP, web access, forwarding or redirection
Free IMAP, POP3 Email Mailboxes, Web Email, Email Forwarding or Redirection
These free services give you a free email address with either a POP3 mailbox access, IMAP access, web email access, or email aliases that will forward or redirect email sent to that address to another. They may be used by people who are looking for an email address that is independent of their ISP, and thus hopefully more permanent than that given by the ISP.
Note that many of the free services block email messages from many sources including legitimate sources like Yahoo! Groups and other email newsletter sources that you may have subscribed to (ie, you deliberately elected to receive those newsletters) with no facility for you to override this. Since so many free providers do this, I no longer bother to mention this for each of the individual free email service entries listed below.
If you need more facilities for your email (eg spam protection, virus protection, more space to store your email, etc), you might want to consider using a commercial service like Fastmail.fm.
Free Web Email, POP3 and IMAP Mail boxes and Email Forwarding
Run by Google, Gmail provides approximately 10 GB of disk space. (Note: it may be more by the time you read this, since they increase the amount every now and then.) You can access your account either with a browser (that is, it provides a webmail service as well) or a POP3/IMAP email client. You can also forward your email to another email account (ie, they provide email forwarding and redirection). It has a spam filtering system that learns from the mail marked as spam by its users. While you can use it to send and receive attachments, at this time, you cannot send or receive files having certain extensions, such as Windows .exe files, batch files, VB scripts, Windows Script Host files, and other executable files, even if they are placed inside archives (like zip files). Your individual emails, including their attachments, can have a maximum file size of 25MB. The service is ad-supported, and advertisements relevant to the email you are reading appear above your email. That is, Google scans your messages and issues advertisements it thinks are relevant to the text of your email.
There doesn't seem to be much information about this email service, except that it is free, and it does not restrict the number of messages you send or receive (unless you spam). They provide you with 3 MB of storage space, and total size of your file attachments must not be bigger than 2 MB.
This service comes with folders to organise your email, filter them, attach files, automatically respond to mails received (autoresponder), and so on. You are given 10 MB space to store your email. Note though, if you don't access your email in two weeks, your account will be deleted. There appears to be a secure login facility, although (if I'm to judge by other Yahoo services) I suspect that only the login takes place under SSL; the rest of the session uses unencrypted transfers. At the moment, there seems to be some controversy going on about the changes to their Terms of Service, so I suggest you actually read those before signing up.
- Windows Live Hotmail
This rather popular web email service, now run by Microsoft, gives you 5 GB for your mail boxes. There are other limitations on your account as well. You will need to sign up for (or already have) a "Microsoft account" to log in, and you can choose from a number of Hotmail domains (eg, @hotmail.com, @live.com, @outlook.com, @msn.com) for your email address.
This service provides you the ability to block email addresses, create folders to organize your mail, and send/receive attachments. At the time I checked them out, the service issued a pop-up window when I reached their site, another pop-up window each time I deleted a message (if you block their pop-up, you will not be able to delete your messages) and at least two pop-up windows when I logged out. I'm not sure if there are other pop-up windows as well; I ended up blocking all pop-ups except when I delete mail. To me, one pop-up is fine (after all they need the ads to survive), but this is ridiculous.
This web email service provides you with "unlimited" email storage (with some limitations; see below). You can access your email only via their web interface. The service is ad-supported, and also you get ad tag lines in your email (presumably both inbound and outbound mail). While perusing their site, I noticed an interesting piece of information in their Terms of Service agreement regarding the "unlimited" storage: apparently, some of your outbound messages "may not be processed due to outbound message limitations". I'm not sure what this means (there are no details).
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