Electronic mail is one of the major communication means in the modern world along with telephones and radio. It is much faster and more realiable than ordinary mail also known as snail mail due to its speed. Yes, sometimes (very seldom) e-mails do not reach the recipient in time. Well, there is nothing absolutely reliable. But e-mail has great advantages over all other communication means. Mail on the net travels much faster than on land. It will hardly be lost or stolen. Unlike fax, e-mails are almost always readable. And, the last but not least important: the cost of sending an e-mail is very, very small, incomparable with telephone charges.
Free e-mail servers now firmly occupy their segment on the Web. There are many points why you should
Use Free E-mail Instead Of Your ISP’s
First, this is an absolute address. You can change your job, university, apartment, ISP, even your city or country, and this will hardly affect your Net address. When your address is fixed with your ISP, you will get into trouble should you want to switch to another ISP: you will have to notify everybody about the address change, order new business cards etc, but the worst thing is you will lose people e-mailing your old address. If you have advertised in press using the e-mail address or ordered pamphlets, or just do business on the Web, you may even face losses. The ISP is the master of the situation: the mail server belongs to them. So you could choose to put up with your ISP and not to go to a better or cheaper one.
Second, this address has nothing to do with your whereabouts. You can use your free e-mailbox staying anywhere, all you need is an Internet connection. You can move to another town, another country, and it does not matter much. Moreover, you can be checking mail while traveling worldwide.
Third, this address may be yours for life. Nothing should happen to it providing you use it regularly (If you do not check your mail for a few months, it can be deleted — who knows, perhaps you no longer need it and have forgotten about it). If you know a person’s street or snail mail address, or his/her telephone, you may not be able to get in touch with this person many years later. But if you give someone your free e-mail address, you can hope that this person will be able to get in touch with you years after, even if you immigrate to Africa, for example.
Fourth, what’s important, it is very hard to locate you knowing your address, virtually impossible. So, it is more secure to give your free e-mail address.
Fifth, all of your mail is stored at the same server, and you can have access to it not only from home.
Sixth, you can get an unlimited number of mailboxes at different server and use them for different purposes, and can easily change them if needed.
It looks like all the above resulted in most people having an e-mail address at a free e-mail server.
Free e-mail has its shortcomings too, of course. You cannot call the support (though it often responds by e-mail). The administration of the server is not responsible for loss of mail, downtime and other problems. However, the problems happen even more seldom than with ISP’s mail servers.
But, it has a number of advantages. First, it is the possibility to travel and check mail, change ISPs and home. The size of the e-mail box may be bigger than that with your ISP. You can set up filters and forwarding (redirection) which most ISPs do not offer, have your online address book and many features.
So, all you have to do now is to choose a good free e-mail server, register and get your eddress. Which server is best? Let us talk about it later, and now read some tips.
When you register, you will need to think of your password that you will use to access your mailbox. You should think hard because it must be easy to remember but hard to guess. Birthdates, names will not do. Also, you should think of a secret question that the server will ask you should you forget your password. It must be something that nobody but you can answer. For example, the telephone number that you still remember of someone who you used to know many years ago. If the number is not the same and you do not continue to talk to this person. At least, do not use the name of your pet. You must realize that it is not a password, but a question that only you can answer, and your answer must be univocal. Computers are not people, so if telll the truth but in a different way, they will not understand you. In particular, if you specify a telephone number with dots or dashes, computers will refuse the non-dash version. So, think of plain questions.
Register at least two mailboxes with different servers. One of them can only be disclosed to your friends and business partners. The other can be public. This will be more convenient and safe, believe me. At that your second address should not look like firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, the word 'public' should not be understood literally. If you leave your eddress anywhere on the Net (at boards, forums, chats), you will be getting a terrible amount of junk (spam), and sooner or later, a kind fat boy will send you a virus. He will not know how much damage he has caused and if he has at all, but just the idea that he might have will fill his heart with joy and bliss, making him realize what great programmer and hacker he is. So do not try to make your eddress largely public and be suspicious toward all new mail. If it has attachments, do not open them, even if it looks like a picture, but if those are files of *.exe, *.com, *.vbs, *.pif and other types and you do not know the sender, be extremely careful. You should be careful even if you do know the sender, because some viruses send themselves without the person’s knowledge when their computer is infected. You should also be careful even if the attachment has a *.txt extension, because it can be a name.txt.exe file on the ground, but Windows can hide the real extension. Use your antiviruses to check the attachments.
It makes sense to have four special POP3 accounts for getting mail only. One of them should be used for subscriptions. Three remaining one should be used for the rest of your mail. Make redirection to the three ones from your main mailbox. You can also use the three ones for redirecting other mail. What is the point? First, if your main mailbox is not available because of some problems, it should redirect new mail anyway most likely, and you will receive your mail regardless. Second, if one or even two of the three mailboxes fail, you will get your mail anyway. Also, if you have to check mail for your friend, it is enough to set up forwarding from his mailbox to the three ones, and you will not have to bother. Especially if you have more than one friend. It is also possible that you have a few mailboxes that you use for different purposes (one for your friends and family, another for business contacts, another public, etc). It is pain in the neck to check a lot of mailboxes daily, especially if you do not often get mail.
So, it is advisable to get four special mailboxes that are not known to anyone but you and that you use solely to get mail. Why three? It is simple. It is easier to delete for spare copies of an e-mail than to get none. In fact, it is often happens that I get one or two instead of three, or some of them are very late. But at least one comes surely on time.
All the three mailboxes should be on completely different servers, so you will see which is the least realiable and replace it. But this will in no way affect your addresses, you will not have to notify anyone, just to change the forwarding address.
By the way, this is where you can find use for your e-mail address that your ISP set up for you. Use it as one of the three ones, and I believe that it should be the fastest of all.
About mail servers
Now let us speak about choosing a server. Below are the characteristics that should be considered when evaluating a free e-mail server. Study through them and then go to the next page, where a few mail servers are described. If you know the ropes, that it is the features, you can find your way around. If you cannot get a mailbox at a server, come back and choose another.
Main features Of Mail Servers
(see the description at the next page)
- Name. It makes sense to get a mailbox at a server which has a short and easy-to-remember address like Mail.Com. An address like that is easy to remember and dictate. Also, it is recommended that your address end at .com or .net
- Size of the mailbox in MB. The more, the better. It must not be less than 5 to 10MB. If the size is considerable, you will not have to worry that if you go on vacation, it will be stuffed with mail and start bouncing
- Forwarding lets you redirect all incoming mail to another mailbox. Filter Forwarding (F) means that there is no separate forwarding feature but you can set it up making filters redirect all incoming messages, for example by condition "if FROM does not contain <some non-existing address>, redirect to…". Copy Forwarding (C) means that you can have a copy of incoming mail saved at the server before it is redirected away. Sometimes you have to validate your redirection address (V), and when you set it up, you will get a message there from the server with an activation code. The number of addresses to redirect mail to may be limited (by n), usually it is one address (1) but there may be more. Some servers limit only the total length of redirection addresses by 256 characters (256)
- Reply-to address means that you can specify a different address that your correspondent will reply to when pressing Reply at his mail client
- Autoresponder allows you to send automatical replies to incoming messages. Filter Autoresponder means that there is no separate autoresponder feature but you can set it up making filters reply to all incoming messages, for example by condition "if FROM does not contain <some non-existing address>, reply with the message…"
- Signature is a short text that will automatically be added at the end of each message. You can add your name and telephone number there, your web page URL, etc
- Filters allow to create rules for sorting incoming mail depending on the sender or recipient, the message size, etc. Redirect filters (R), delete filters (D), autoresponsding filters (A) allow not just to put messages into different folders but also forward to delete some messages (spam) or automatically reply. For example, if you do not want to have anything to do with a person, you set up an autoresponder like "Fuck you" or more politely "There is no such mailbox". Or just delete the messages. You are not always able to remove messages but there is another feature called Black List (B)
- Attachments (up to N) up to Õ MB are N files that you can enclose with each message totaling Õ MB altogether
- External mail collection is a handy feature for those who have a few (n) POP3-mailboxes that have no forwarding: you can automatically get mail from them into your main mailbox
- Many domains is something you may need when your desired username (login) is taken
- Home Page has little to do with e-mail but some servers do let you create your own web pages in addition to a free mailbox
- Secure mode. It is HTTPS and SSL protocols that cypher information that your computer exchange with the server making it hard to intercept it
- Other Services such as SMS, file storage, etc
- Language of the web interface is usually English
- Inactivity (months) is the longest time you do not have to log in to your mailbox. If you fail to log in for a longer period, your mailbox will be removed
- POP3 is the name of the incoming mail server. It has been noted that if you have an address like email@example.com, your imcoming mail server address will contain this part and may have a prefix, that is look like [pop/pop3/mail/pop.mail/imap].domain.ext. For example, for firstname.lastname@example.org we get pop.mail.ru, for email@example.com it is pop3.mail.od.ua, for firstname.lastname@example.org we have pop.mail.yahoo.com, etc. Most often if you have an address email@example.com, your POP-server will have pop.domain.ext. Anyway, it will contain the domain.ext part, and the prefix may be anything or absent. There are exceptions but they are rare, like mailgate.ru for firstname.lastname@example.org
- SMTP is the name of the outgoing mail server that must be specified in the settings of your mail program (Outlook Express or The Bat!). If authentification (V) is required, the corresponding option must be checked in the settings of the program. There may be restrictions for the size of outgoing messages (n MB). Some servers like Mail.Ru refuse to handle mail that has a reply-to address different from the server domain (R). Finally, sometimes you must check mail before sending anythig (C), which can be pain in the ass particularly if you have many mailboxes. If you have a email@example.com address, your SMTP-server name should look like [smtp/mail/smtp.mail].domain.ext
Besides those features there are two more that ought to have been listed:
- Address Book lets you put down the addresses that you often use to save time and avoid mistypes when sending mail to the people
- Folders. You can create a lot of different folders in your mailbox in addition to the usual Sent è INBOX. For example, you can put all messages to and from a person to a separate folder
But I have not seen a mail server without these features, so we do not have to consider them.
The most valuable servers are those that give SMTP/POP3* access. What is that? It means that you can use amail client to work with your mail server, that is you can connect to the Internet, download all new mail to your computer and read it taking your time, write replies. Then connect to the Internet for a short time again and send all newly written mail off. If there is not SMTP/POP3, it is impossible. First, your Internet expenses are increasing, second, you have to hurry, third, if you suddenly want to reread a letter, you must log on to the Internet again, finally, if the connection fails while you are sending a letter, you may lose it which can be very disagreeable!!That is why, by the way, it makes sense to write letters in Notepad, copy and paste into the new mail form. But it is much better to use a mail client like Outlook Express. Which requires that you have a SMTP/POP3 mailbox, though. Basically, you can do with a free POP-server and use your ISP’s SMTP, but you must use a package where SMTP is available. Or, you can type your free address at the settings of your mail client instead of the one given to you by your ISP and forward new mail from your free mailbox to your ISP one.
So, the most interesting servers are SMTP/POP3 ones, then come POP3, finally forward servers. Others are not interesting at all, I believe.
Now you can go to the detailed description of free mail servers.
A mail client is a mail program that you use to receive mail via POP3, store and view it at your computer, and also write and send mail via SMTP. The program is called a client because it interacts with a server.
The advantages of using a mail program were mentioned earlier. They are many. So, when you read at some servers that give you just web mail via a HTTP interface and no SMTP/POP3 that you do not have to use a mail client and it is great, it is rubbish. You will not need a program indeed but it is a shortcoming rather than an advantage. Like using a bike instead of a car can help you save gas. Besides, all free servers that provide POP3, provide a hypertext interface as well. Just in case I will list
Advantages Of Using Mail Client
- save your time online: you only need a few minutes to receive mail via POP3. When you are done, log off and read mail in no hurry at all, write your answers. But if you work via a hypertext interface, you have to be online all the time
- store as many messages in your computer as you wish. You can store correspondence for many years and find messages using the search feature of the mail program by body fragments, subject or sender. The size of your mail database is only restricted by free space at your HDD. But few servers let you store more than 10MB of mail
- access your old mail regardless of your Internet access
- the interface of a mail program is much handier than that of a mail server, it offers more functionality and works much quicker since the program reads the HDD of your local PC rather than that of a remote server
- most programs can automatically check mail while you are online and notify you with a sound
Mail Mail Clients Review
|Size on HDD, MB
|Many Mailboxes Support
All of the above software can create folders and automatically check mail at preset intervals. See more at the Software section.