What email service should I use?

I have an earthlink.net email address, which comes with webmail and 10MB storage. But I’m thinking about changing my internet service provider? And sometimes I run out of storage at earthlink. I just don’t know if it’s worth it to me to convert to a new email address.

May I suggest Google Apps to host your email? It’s free, has a frigton of storage (7.5GB), and has all the bounteous benefit of the Gmail interface, or you can access it from Apple Mail or your email client of choice. There are few comparable alternatives out right now, and none of those are free.

This is important: You can KEEP your current email addresses. In the case of your earthlink.net address, we just start forwarding it to Gmail — either a general @gmail.com address or to your @yourdomain.com. Your correspondents may never have to know that you changed addresses. And for you@ (or whatevertheheckyouwant@) yourdomain.com, Google simply becomes your email host.

You can pay Earthlink a few bucks month to keep the address, but that’s a sucky long-term idea.

Also, the Gmail interface is importantly fantastic. I sometimes switch over to it just to get certain things like automatic organization accomplished. And lemme tell ya, the spam filtering is outta sight. I don’t see spam anymore. One message a month or less, and I can always look in the spam folder in Apple Mail just to double-check I haven’t missed a real message.

One last thing: There was once the perception that a @yahoo.com (or the like) implies an inconstant personality. I can say definitively that, especially since Gmail, that is no longer the case. The service is recognized net-wide as legitimate and unique. I practically insist on my clients using Gmail, unless they are already on Yahoo. If they have any address other than Yahoo, including using their own domain, 7 out of 10 times we get them over to Gmail quick as we can, and they never look back.

Author: jjmarcus

Apple Specialist, Mac Whisperer, Cloud Wrangler - Your Remote CTO

8 thoughts on “What email service should I use?”

  1. Jonathan, you’re a wise man. But I continue to hesitate for reasons both general and specific to me:
    – I hate paying $3.95/mo to maintain an Earthlink address (they’re no longer my ISP), but I’m in a profession in which it would be an enormous challenge to get any new address to everyone who should have it. $48/year seems like a reasonable price to avoid that hassle.
    – I instinctively avoid having my important data stored somewhere other than my own computer. I realize my laptop’s a zillion times more likely to self-destruct than Google’s servers are, but a) I do backups regularly, b) I like the sense of control, c) I hate becoming reliant on the continued existence of a company and its continued willingness to provide a service for free, or to provide it at all.
    – Plus, don’t you have to see ads when you use Google docs? That’s not a major consideration, but I love eliminating ads from my life whenever possible.

  2. Wise I don’t know about. But after slogging through pretty much ALL of the different email options as they’ve developed over the last 12 years, I’m glad there are finally some cheap, easy, and versatile prescriptions for folks to get into.
    I well understand your contentions and concerns. However…
    Cost: $48/year, for the indeterminate future? When Google is free?
    I might add that it’s funny how people complain about Apple charging $99/year for MobileMe, which offers an array of services well beyond just an email address. Earthlink and others should make it free to forward an email address, in perpetuity, even when someone chooses to leave their service. AOL converted their email to free a while back, and the rest are pirates for not doing so.
    Backups: When it comes to backups, I trust no one. I am still going to back all of our Google Docs up (we’ve just begun using them), as I already do with my email. (I have at least 10 years of email available within minutes, and pretty sure I have every email I’ve ever sent or received somewhere.)
    Other concerns might be:
    Privacy: Illusion? Partially. But a… ehm… maintainable one. I firmly believe no one can access my email and private online storage without my passwords, and I have mechanisms in place to make sure that those are absolutely not available to anyone.
    Yes, Google has my private stuff on their private property. Yet, I’d like to think that, if it were clear that Google or anybody else actually released our private material, there would be a shitstorm of lawsuits. Unfortunately, I too clearly remember Yahoo giving something up to the Chinese government, twice, but then again, anyone sending anything in or out of China would have to assume it is going to be inspected.
    “Making all the world’s *public* information accessible” is too long for a catchphrase.
    Spam: One can use a local spam-catcher such as SpamSieve, which in particular some have found daunting to configure, but I prefer server-side spam blocking whenever possible. I’ve always been ticked with the ISPs for not installing decent spam protection in their email services.

  3. I may be misunderstanding something: You’re talking about forwarding any email address via Gmail, but I do have to continue keeping that email address valid, right? If I stop paying Earthlink, won’t anything sent to that address simply bounce back to the sender? Or does Gmail somehow intercept it, even though I won’t be able to access it via Earthlink’s webmail?
    Unrelated: I just got a 2nd gen iPod Touch. What apps do I want?

  4. Right. You would likely want to keep your Earthlink address alive for a while, and start emailing trusted correspondents that your address is changing. In the case of email for your personal domain, if the hosting service you have is charging you or is unreliable, moving those to Gmail is simply smart. A little off-topic: If you’re paying more than $4/month for email and web hosting, you can save the difference. I use WordPress as an application included with GoDaddy’s $3.95/month web hosting, and point “mail exchange records” for my domain to Google Apps.

  5. Gotcha. My case is probably a little unusual, but since there are hundreds of people from whom I want to get email — plenty of whom I don’t even know until they email me — announcing a new address is just such a big hassle I’m willing to pay $48/year for the foreseeable future.

  6. Of course, and while you feel that’s the right move, might as well begin the transition to Google Apps. Please understand, I would dearly love for anyone to come up with an alternative. But so far none have measured up.

  7. FWIW, Dreamhost allows uses to switch between utilizing them or Google for email and web services separately. So you can can keep and organize a bunch of domains through Dreamhost and try out Google hosting when and where needed – the flexibility is great. It’s kind of complicated for most users but one can evan host email in both locations simultaneously which has advantages (like more access options and double spam filtering).

  8. Perhaps Dreamhost makes that switch more easy and GUI, but making those choices with any registrar merely requires that you have total control over your DNS records. GoDaddy still hosts my WordPress web site, and in my GoDaddy DNS panel, I pointed my mail exchange at Google Apps.

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