By Leo Notenboom
I’ve been receiving a lot of reports of problems with Microsoft’s Hotmail free email service lately, and it really begs the question: are free email services like Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Gmail worth the cost?
My position: Yes.
And: Absolutely Not.
As always, it depends on your needs and your expectations.
•You may be asking yourself, “What cost? Free email services are free, aren’t they?” By now you should know there’s no such thing as “free” – everything has a cost. It may not come out of your wallet each month, but there’s definitely a cost.
Here are some of the costs I associate with free email services:
•Spam – free email services seem to receive a disproportionate amount of spam. There are various theories about why, but the fact is you’ll get more spam with a free mail service than with a regular ISP.
•Deliverability – free email addresses also seem to send a disproportionate amount of SPAM. Even though you don’t send SPAM, it still impacts you. When spam filters see your email as coming from the same service as lots of SPAM, it’s a strike against you, and can quickly cause your email to be blocked.
•Customer Service – for all intents and purposes, there is none. This is truly a case of “you get what you pay for”. While there might be web forms and email address that will accept your question, your chances of getting a response are pretty much proportional to what you paid: zero.
•Limits and Restrictions – With most free services you must read your email through their web interface. If you want to move, forward or download your email, contacts or other information, the process is cumbersome, if it’s even possible at all.
In short, I would never recommend a free email service for anything that you consider important, or anything that you want to keep long term.
[This post is excerpted with Leo’s permission from his Ask Leo blog.]
Leo Notenboom has been involved in the tech industry for nearly 30 years. After retiring from an 18 year career as a Microsoft Software Engineer Leo went on to create Ask Leo!, a free web site where he answers real questions from ordinary computer users.
FaceBook URL: Leo’s Facebook
Twitter URL: http://twitter.com/askleo
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