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Practical Advice When Choosing a Webmail Service

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/31/2008

If you're planning to use webmail service for your online communication activities, there are several things to consider. Here we provide you with the basic and most practical advice when choosing a webmail service to use.

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    Free vs. Paid Webmail Services

    The first thing to consider when choosing a webmail service is, of course, the cost. Are you flexible enough for free basic webmail service, or do you need more sophisticated webmail features and would rather opt to have a premium webmail service? While free webmail services are certainly useful for your personal online communication activities, there are still some webmail add-on features that you might need but won't find in a free webmail service. Hence, your only recourse is to upgrade if the webmail provider offers an upgrade option. Just remember, if you would be using a webmail service for your business transactions thar would entail sensitive data transfer between you and your contacts, it would be better to use a premium webmail account to safeguard your vital information.

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    Storage Capacity

    Once you've decided on a free or paid webmail service, the next thing that you should consider looking into is the storage capacity of the webmail provider. This is one area where the top three free webmail providers are trying to outclass each other. Google's storage limit is currently at 4GB max and growing. Yahoo provides unlimited storage for its webmail service. For Microsoft's Hotmail service, it's already at 5GB with an additional 500MB added every month to each user account. Storage capacity is important, especially for those who need to archive their email correspondence for recording purposes. The only downside about this feature is the fact that your email back-up also resides on the same server as your main email account. So, it is better to have your most important email backed-up on your hard drive as well.

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    Spam Protection

    Another major concern that you should look into when choosing a webmail service is the mechanism employed by the webmail providers in combating the rather annoying spam messages. Although not a single webmail provider is able to provide "zero spam" in their service, it would still be more fruitful to investigate and learn how the webmail provider you are keen on using handles SPAM.

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    Data Anonymity

    Another major concern when choosing a webmail service is how they treat your personal information. Does the webmail provider promise not to disclose your personal information to their business partners? Do they promise not to use your personal information for advertising purposes related to ad targeting? These are just some of the concerns that you should look into when it comes to determining how the webmail provider treats the personal information you give to it.

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    Service Downtime

    Checking up on the webmail provider's downtime record may be hard to do. But, you can use the power of the collective in determining that record. Ask your friends about their experiences regarding service downtime of the webmail provider that they are currently using. The webmail providers themselves won’t tell you the truth as they want to market their service the best way they can. Search the internet for studies on various popular webmail providers regarding this issue and determine which provider offers the least service downtime as possible.

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    There you have it, some practical advice when choosing a webmail service. The good thing about free webmail services is the fact that you can always opt out of the service at anytime without losing any amount of money. But then again, some treat free webmail services as unprofessional and view it as unfit for business purposes. So, it really depends on how you are going to use email as a means of communication.