Email: Choosing an account & address

Email is a remarkable thing: a form of communication that can be as considered as letter-writing but with the convenience of the telephone. A form of communication that, though still relatively young, carries more business correspondence than any other. And a form of communication that cuts through many international boundaries, both financial and practical. Email is also very simple to get to grips with. However, many users don’t get the best out of their account or their mail program, so their email experience is less enjoyable and less efficient than it might be.

Email accounts and email addresses are very easy to find. However, before you grab the first one that comes your way, determine which type would suit you best. There are three main choices: an account from your ISP, an account from a stand-alone service such as Yahoo! or Gmail, or an address based on your own domain name. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each in turn.

 Email from your ISP
 Most ISPs provide at least one email address as part of any Internet access package. The advantage of these accounts is that they won’t cost you anything extra, they’re reliable and you don’t have to view any ads along with your messages. Moreover, most ISP mail accounts offer POP and Web access. The disadvantage is that if you ever switch ISP, you’ll lose the address, which can be a real pain. You can email your regular correspondents and tell them that you’re changing address, of course, but you still might miss a few messages – especially if you’ve ever given out your old address on business cards or other stationery.

Stand-alone email providers
The advantage of signing up with a stand-alone email provider is that they don’t tie you to your ISP. Additionally, the best free services provide so much online storage for your messages that you can leave all your emails permanently online, allowing you to access them from anywhere. But they also offer POP3 access so can be used with a regular email program too. On the downside, when you’re viewing your messages via the Web, you may have to view banner adverts on the page; there’s no guarantee that the service will remain free forever; and, if you have a common name, you may end up with an address as catchy as When choosing a stand-alone email provider, the main things to think about are the amount of storage space (don’t accept anything less than a gigabyte; the “freezing“ period (you don’t want an account that deletes all your messages if you don’t check your mail for a few weeks); and the degree to which you trust the company in question to stay in business. Also think about features on the website – Gmail, for instance, offers an excellent search system to quickly trawl through your messages.

 My top recommendations are:
Gmail (Google Mail )

For thousands more providers of free webmail accounts, browse the lists at:
Free Email Provider Guide
Free Email Address Directory

Email via your own domain name

POP3 and webmail is all well and good, but both options have one built-in problem: you can’t completely design your own address. Even in the unlikely event that you can get the address you want  – such as or – you’re still stuck with the ISP or email provider’s name after the @. Also, even with a webmail account, there’s the possibility that the provider will go bust or change the conditions of the service in a way you don’ like – which may mean changing your email address. For both these reasons, it’s worth considering registering your own domain name (web address). Let’s say you resigter the domain You could then use the email addresses, and/or anything else in the same format. Besides the fact that this kind of address is unquestionably cool, you can also rest assured that you’ll be able to keep the addresses forever, regardless of which ISP you use, or the terms and conditions of any specific webmail company. You also have a domain registered in case you ever want to put up a website. The only downside is that this option doesn’t come free. That said, registering a domain isn’t very expensive and usually includes free mail forwarding: anything sent to, for example might be forwarded to But the ideal solution is to buy a package when you register the domain that allows you POP3 access to your mail. Usually bundled with web-hosting packages, this really is the best of all worlds, but do expect to pay a few pounds/ dollars a month.

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