What is the Safest Free Email Service Available to the Public?

This is a good question I will try to answer. There really is no “safest, free” e-mail service out there. However, I will discuss the good, bad, and the ugly of using a “free” email service.

Please remember anytime you use a “free” online service, the service itself is not really free. Why? Well because they have your data. Today, data is like a product to sell. People can sell data they collect to people like advertisers and private companies who can make use of it (for good reasons……or bad reasons).

Unfortunately this data is usually personal information you provided through a “free” e-mail account, “free” instant messaging service, “free” video call (e.g., Skype), “free” web hosting account, “free” file storage (who puts their personal files [like photos] on a random, who-knows-who-really-owns-it server anyway?), “free” video hosting service (e.g., YouTube), etc.  You get the idea.

These companies that provide free e-mail services are probably selling your data to other companies. This is one way they can make money to pay for hosting those “free” e-mail accounts to begin with. Also, this is why if you do anything personal on your “free” e-mail account, it isn’t really private.

The Good

  • No technical knowledge of email needed to get started
  • No worry about making backups (if using a reputable provider like Gmail)
  • No worry about blocking spam (the provider should be doing this for you anyway)
  • No worry about managing your own server to run your own e-mail server
  • No worry about others not getting their e-mails to you (reliable providers should be constantly monitoring their servers for issues like Gmail or Yahoo would do)

The Bad

  • No control over how much disk space you can have
  • No control over who the service provider decides to block e-mails coming from / or going to
  • No control over service outages (they probably will just silently fix the issues with little to no notifications about what happened)
  • Sometimes you may not get the exact name you want for your e-mail address, since someone else may have previously taken the same name (for example: you want john.doe@example.com, but someone has already taken that name; you then may have to settle for john.doe193@example.com instead…not something that everyone may want)

The Ugly

  • No control over your data (they have your e-mails, you do not!)
  • No ownership of your e-mails (not only do you not control your e-mails, you technically do not own them either…they do)  —- I know you may disagree with me, but let’s face facts, like I said before, they have the data, not you!
  • Anyone at the company (or individual hosting free accounts) can snoop into your e-mails that you send or receive.
  • Your “free” e-mail service with _all_ of your e-mails could be deactivated and erased with no prior notice for _any_ reason they deem acceptable.
  • Your emails may also be stored permanently in backups the hosting service makes, which means when you delete an e-mail, it may not really be deleted!

You may want to consider carefully reading the “Terms of Service” agreement for “free” e-mail providers to see how they deal with their users’ privacy.

Posted in Computers, Internet and Servers, Security