You need it for networking, job recruitment, downloading resources, transferring files, setting reminders, meeting with colleagues, and so much more.Even with the rise of office chat platforms, you still depend on email for a surprising number of things. But unfortunately, not every email service is completely free. And even the free ones might not be the easiest to use or have all the features you need.It can be a challenge to find an email service provider at no cost that balances the right features with usability. To help make your search easier, we put together a list of the different types of email accounts you can set up, followed by the eleven best email service providers you can host your account on right now for free.
Types of Email Accounts
There are two main types of email service providers to choose from: email clients and webmail. When you use your provider to access your email from a different device or location online, you can use one of three major email protocols to do so: POP3, IMAP, and Exchange.Let’s briefly go over these different types of providers and protocols.
Email clients are software applications that you install onto the computer itself to manage the email you send and receive. To access this email, the client interacts with a remote email server.Email clients you’ve likely heard of include Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, and Apple Mail.If you want to access this type of email from the web, rather than the client’s computer application, the email client uses one of the email protocols described below. For example, although you might have Outlook installed on your computer, you can also log in to your email account via outlook.com using a specific email protocol.
Webmail is a form of email you access exclusively from the internet, and therefore exists primarily on the cloud rather than your computer. Instead of an installed application fetching your email, you manage your inbox right from your internet browser.Webmail providers you’ve likely heard of include Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and AOL (all of which have made our list of best free email accounts, below).If you want to access your webmail from a mail app on your mobile device, rather than your desktop web browser, your webmail provider can use one of the email protocols described below.Now, before we get into the best free email accounts, let’s talk about those email protocols.
Email protocols are the systems that actually retrieve your email for you. They can be used to fetch email client accounts on the internet, and fetch webmail accounts on a mobile app. Here are the three main types of email protocol your account can use.
POP stands for “post office protocol,” and is best suited for people who have just one email account and email client. POP3 is the latest version of this email protocol, and allows you to access email while offline. It therefore requires less internet bandwidth.
IMAP stands for “internet mail access protocol,” and is one of the older email protocol available today. IMAP4 is considered the latest version, and unlike the POP protocol, you do not download your email to your offline email client. Instead, all your email stays online while you’re accessing and managing it.IMAP is particularly useful for people who have more than one email account and access them from multiple devices or locations.
Exchange is a Microsoft email protocol, and is pretty similar to the IMAP protocol explained above. This protocol allows you to not only access your email over the internet from multiple devices, but also tasks, calendars, and contact information tethered to that email address. For this reason, it’s particularly helpful to organizations whose employees share many types of information and collaborate remotely.Now, take a look at seven of the best free email service providers you can get your hands on today — both webmail and email clients included. For each email service provider, we highlighted a unique feature to help you find the best fit.
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: anyone who already uses and loves the rest of Google’s products.It might seem like an obvious top pick, but Gmail is just too versatile to not award the first slot. Gmail has the second-highest email provider market share (behind Apple iPhone’s native email app), according to Litmus Labs. And ironically, one of the reasons Gmail has become so popular is because of all the communication options in your inbox that don’t involve email.Gmail is an everyday email inbox you can sign up for by registering for a Google account. But it’s built into Google Suite, a group of free apps that allow you to chat, video-conference, and share files with the people in your contact list.Google Hangouts, available from your inbox’s left sidebar (or the right — you can customize how you inbox is displayed), lets you text and video chat with other Gmail users for the things that might not warrant an email message. Like most other email accounts today, Gmail also has an intuitive calendar where you can set meetings and reminders.Pro tip: You can also use a free product like HubSpot Meetings to easily schedule meetings without back-and-forth emails.Unlike other email accounts, you can use your Gmail address to log into and manage your YouTube account, as well as collaborate on shared documents and spreadsheets right from a cloud-based Google Drive.Offering a generous 15 GB of free email storage, Gmail does everything it can to make your inbox less chaotic, including advanced filters that automatically push emails into separate folders as they arrive. And none of these functions costs a dime.
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: people who use email for most of their communication.America Online (I feel nostalgic just typing those words) has quietly kept up with today’s standards for a good user experience. The classic AOL is now once again one of the best free email accounts available to you.Purchased by Verizon in 2015, AOL delivers you email from its classic news-driven homepage, and comes with the contemporary spam filters and virus protection you’d expect from your email provider. You can alsosend text and instant messages from specific windows in your email inbox.AOL does have something over Gmail, though: unlimited storage. Additionally, you can import email contacts from a CSV, TXT, or LDIF file so you’re not creating your “buddy list” (get it?) from scratch.
Type of email: Email clientWho should use it: people who use many different platforms to connect with others.If you ever cringed at the sight of a “Hotmail.com” email address, you can thank Outlook for this outdated domain name. But there’s good news: Microsoft has reinvented its longstanding email service, and your free Outlook.com email address has many progressive features waiting for you.While it touts a calendar and message filter that is similar to Gmail, Outlook also integrates with a number of other popular communication apps. You can connect Skype, Facebook, PowerPoint, PayPal, and even task-management software such as Trello — making it very easy to reach and work with non-Outlook users without leaving your inbox.Outlook offers 15 GB of free storage for each user, along with a super-clean interface.
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: startups and small businesses.This is the first of the lesser-known free email accounts to make our list, but it holds a lot of potential for businesses.The first thing you’ll notice about Zoho is its user-friendliness. From integrating with Google Drive, Box, and other cloud-based file managers, to its built-in task manager, this email service offers a simple way to accomplish all of your daily tasks.The real difference-maker, though, is the ability tocustomize the domain name for up to 25 connected email addresses. Want to replace “@zoho.com” with the name of your business’s website? You can do so under Zoho Lite, which gives you 5 GB for free — all under [email protected]
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: small businesses, freelancers, and the self-employed.It doesn’t get more self-explanatory than “Mail.com,” does it? This email provider knows its audience — or should I say, audiences.Right off the bat, you’ll probably notice Mail.com doesn’t have stellar storage space compared to the options above: only 2 GB. But what this webmail service lacks in gigabytes it makes up for with … drumroll …200 free custom domain names. You can replace “@mail.com” at the end of your username with just about anything that describes you. Here are some options Mail.com has precreated for you to choose from:
Toothfairy.com (who knew she was online?)
Mail.com doesn’t rest on its 200 laurels, though, as the email provider also comes with a calendar for creating and tracking your events each week.
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: creatives and those who send and receive attachments frequently via email.Yahoo! Mail, another well-known platform, sits just behind AOL in storage space with a whopping 1 TB (that’s a terabyte) for free, along with a few key social media integrations.In addition to custom background themes and being able to search key information from your inbox, Yahoo! Mail also makes it easy to find every photo, video, and document you’ve ever attached or received via email in their own tabs on your inbox’s sidebar. This makes the platform especially appealing to those who share documents on a regular basis or simply want an album made of every photo they’ve ever had shared.
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: people who send and receive sensitive information.ProtonMail offers just 500 MB of free space, but for the worthy trade of encrypted email, allowing you to send messages that nobody else can see, and disappear after a month.What’s the catch? Is the service hard to use? As with most webmail platforms, ProtonMail is easy to use on any device without any software needed to encrypt your emails. Its inbox interface is as easy to understand at a glance as the other email services on this list, and offers quick color-coded labels to help you further organize which emails deserve the most care and protection.
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: people who use Mac and want everything on one system.If you’re a Mac user, you may want to consider using iCloud Mail as your email provider. Their free email account comes with 5GB of storage that you can use to sync your photos, files, or email. It’s important to note that storage is shared between all of your apps and devices — so if you take a lot of photos on your iPhone, you may eat into your email storage allowance for the month. Upgraded plans start at $0.99/month and go up to $9.99/month.One of the biggest advantages of using iCloud over other email providers on this list is the ease of integration. Apple builds its desktop and iPhone mail apps with all email clients in mind, but it pays special attention to making the experience delightful for iCloud users. Some of the pros of iCloud Mail include an easy to use search functionality, easy-to-use rules, and an ability to label senders as VIP. When a contact is marked as VIP, new messages will automatically filter to a separate tab on the left, saving you both time and energy.
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: people who need multiple emails with one central inbox.While you may not have heard of GMX Mail, it’s been around for quite a while (since 1997) — and it has a bunch of features that make it worth considering. First off, GMX offers 65GB of storage. That’s a lot of storage for a free email service. In fact, they claim that allows you to keep nearly half a million messages in your Inbox!Another feature worth noting is the ability to send large attachments. While many services have caps for your email attachments, GMX Mail allows you to send files up to 50GB. That’s great if you share a ton of photos, presentations, or other large files from your account.But the feature of GMX Mail that really sets it apart is the ability to set up to 10 alias email addresses all from within one account. This can be useful in many situations — both personally and professionally. On a personal note, you could use one alias for all of your online purchases and logins — to keep marketing emails separate from your personal messages. From a business perspective, multiple email addresses can be useful for managing role based emails such as [email protected] or [email protected]
10. Mozilla Thunderbird
Unique Feature: Customization features, and the ability to open multiple emails in tabs
Type of email: Email clientsWho should use it: anyone looking for a simple, but customizable email inbox.Thunderbird, a free email application from Mozilla, known for Firefox, offers a quick email inbox setup and a simple, easy-to-use user interface.The app offers customizable features, such as theme settings and app extensions that can improve your email experience. The email app also allows you to open multiple emails in tabs, similarly to how you would open multiple web pages in Firefox browsers.
Type of email: WebmailWho should use it: anyone seeking a free email with additional storage capabilities.Yandex is a Russian web company that offers a global email tool. With the tool, you can sign up for a free account, link it to your Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail accounts, and personalize your email inbox.
Like many of the other providers on this list, Yandex’s email inbox can be set to filter or prioritize emails so you see messages from real people. It can also recognize keywords in messages and subject lines and organize emails into categorized inboxes. Additionally, users who sign up for Yandex mail get 10 GB of free cloud storage.
Making the Most of Your Email
And with that, you have some of the best options for free email accounts this year. But who knows? Your next email address could be entirely different while giving you just what you need to succeed.Once you’ve chosen an email provider and launched a new email address specifically for your marketing needs, you should also leverage apps, outside software, and APIs to add to your email strategy.One powerful tool worth noting is HubSpot’s Free Email tool. The tool allows you to link your email address to the HubSpot CRM, while also allowing you to build email templates and send messages straight from the HubSpot software. Even more beneficial? The software even lets you track basic analytics and collect email subscriber contacts in your CRM — which can then be added to your email marketing lists.To learn more about our free email tool, click here.