In the 21st century, it takes just minutes to set up an email account on the web. A simple Google search will yield a myriad of results providing users with a huge spectrum of different service providers to choose from.
On the surface, it appears that each of these providers offers roughly the same service by allowing us to seamlessly send, receive, accept and store emails online. In fact, there is often more than meets the eye here, and various considerations come into play when selecting a platform that best suits the needs of a business or individual user. By weighing up characteristics such as the efficiency of spam filters, volume of storage space, accessibility to mobile, and clarity of the user interface, users can ensure that they are using an email service provider that can meet their requirements in the most efficient way.
This blog will look at five of the most popular providers in 2019, highlighting their distinctive features and discussing how each platform aims to satisfy its increasingly demanding users.
Since it’s inception in 2004, Google’s Gmail has reached over a billion users and become the global leader in email services.
Exceedingly rich in features, Google’s interface offers a great deal of flexibility and customizability to its users. Users can arrange their inbox with filters and labels, import emails from external accounts, and utilize the wide range of third-party add-ons that extend GMail’s functionality.
Users are presented with an array of communication options besides the traditional email through the tight integration with Google’s other widely used web applications including “Google Suite” which comprises a series of tools allowing users to chat, video-conference, and shares files with contacts. With this suite, it is also possible to use web-based applications for working with documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.
Most importantly, Google does not let its abundance of features affect the simplicity of use, and Gmail maintains a stripped-back user experience, devoting a large proportion of screen to the inbox, where messages are tidily sorted into conversations to allow for clear tracking.
Effective filtering sorts emails as soon as they arrive by grouping on the closest criteria such as wording and folder types. This helps to ensure that spam messages are blocked from entering the main inbox.
The evolution of Microsoft’s “Hotmail”, Outlook offers a clean and effective interface for it’s 400 million users.
Matching GMail with similar message filtering, integrated calendar and generous free storage capacity (15GB), Outlook aims to excel through the power of its integration with other popular communication applications such as Skype, Facebook, and PayPal. This enhances the process of working with non-Outlook users by enabling collaboration through multiple platforms from within the inbox.
Microsoft compliments this with other pioneering features such as the focussed inbox. This pinpoints important or urgent emails and places them in a primary inbox in order to help prevent distractions. Further automation can be observed where flights and dinner reservations are identified and added to the calendar.
Finally, Outlook can be singled out for the attachment support provided, which gives users the ability to attach OneDrive files (including powerpoints, word documents, and excel spreadsheets) as either links or copies which can be viewed and edited internally.
As with Outlook, strong attachment support is a key feature of Yahoo’s service. In the case of Yahoo Mail, users can benefit from a unique ability to find every photo, video, and document that they have historically shared via email. For creatives who frequently share documents, this may seem greatly appealing. It is also seamlessly easy to switch file attachments to inline attachments that are embedded in the email (or vice-versa).
For business users who are looking to use alternate identities or aliases, Yahoo allows up to 500 disposable email addresses to be created. These are linked to a central email account but do not compromise the user’s name or personal identity.
Perhaps most impressively, Yahoo offers an enormous 1TB of storage capacity on free accounts, allowing users to keep everything they receive.
Zoho Workplace offers a business email service amongst a suite of applications that includes tools for document management, expense tracking, and collaboration.
With a free plan that supports up to 25 users, Zoho Mail is popular with small and home-based businesses. These companies are able to make great use of the platform’s integrated spreadsheet, word processor, and presentation software. Most appealingly, Zoho’s service offers users the ability to customize their domain names. As a feature that is typically restricted to paid commercial services, this feature can be described as the main draw for many of Zoho Mail’s 10 million users.
Whilst Zoho’s basic plan omits some fundamental features such as email forwarding and desktop app/offline access, upgrading to the “Standard Plan” for $3 per month/user provides a solution to these issues.
ProtonMail provides an ideal solution for users seeking privacy and encryption. Whilst most other service providers will request personal details or scan messages to enable automation, ProtonMail maintains the anonymity of its users.
Founded at the 2014 CERN research facility in Geneva, the company uses end-to-end encryption alongside IP address protection to ensure that each email is secure and cannot be read or tracked.
The basic plan provides just 500MB of storage space whilst limiting accounts to a maximum of 150 emails per day. Organizational folders, labels, and smart filters are also absent from the free service. For $5 per month, subscription to a ProtonMail “Plus” account increases the allowance to 1,000 emails per day, provides 5GB of storage, supports folders and labels, and facilities custom domain names.
What are your thoughts on the state of email providers in 2019? It would be great to hear your feedback in the comments section below!