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Free email providers: Compare and choose the right one

Discover 2024's best free email providers: Find the perfect blend of features, storage, and privacy tailored to your needs.

First published

21.02.2024

Last edited

18.03.2024

Read time

11 minutes


    By Ilija

    An economist by degree, a marketing manager at heart. Seeing my website on the first page of Google is what excites me most. I write mostly about email productivity, email management and AI.

    Choosing among free email providers today isn't just about picking a domain name; it's about balancing features, storage, and privacy concerns. While some of us might opt for the convenience and integration offered by giants like Gmail and Outlook.com, others prioritize privacy, turning to services like Proton Mail or Tuta for their end-to-end encryption.

    Key features to consider for an email provider

    When choosing a free email service, there are four main features you should look at:

    • Storage Space: How much email storage is available? Some email services offer lots of space, meaning you rarely, if ever, need to delete messages. Others offer less, which might mean you'll need to clean out your inbox more often to avoid filling it up.
    • Attachment Limits: How big can email attachments be? This is important if you often send large files. Some services have higher limits or let you use cloud storage to send bigger files, making it easier to share large documents or photos.
    • Email Protocols (POP3, IMAP, SMTP): These might sound technical, but they're just ways your email service sends and receives messages. Good support for these means you can use your email in different ways, like on your phone or with email programs on your computer, keeping everything in sync.
    • Security: How well does the email service protect your information? Security features like encryption, two-factor authentication (2FA), and spam filters are crucial. Choosing a service that prioritizes your security can make a big difference in protecting your personal information online.

    Best free email providers

    Gmail

    Gmail free email provider

    Source: Google

    Gmail is a free email service from Google that's easy to use and very popular, with over 1.8 billion users worldwide. It supports more than 105 languages and works on all kinds of devices, including smartphones (both iOS and Android) and computers (macOS, Windows, ChromeOS, and Linux).

    With Gmail, you can quickly forward emails or undo sending them if you make a mistake. It's also very secure, thanks to two-step verification. This means if you try to log in from a new device, you'll get a prompt on your phone to confirm it's really you.

    You can organize your emails using labels and colors, making them easier to find. Gmail lets you send attachments up to 25MB and gives you 15 GB of storage for free. If you need more space, you can buy more storage, up to 2 TB.

    Gmail also uses AI, but this feature is only available to people who subscribe to Google Workspace. This AI can help write, rewrite, or summarize your emails.

    Note: 

    If you want to make your Gmail even better, think about using the Mailbutler extension. It fits right into Gmail and adds useful features like seeing when emails are opened, help from an AI to write, reply, and scan emails for creating tasks directly in the Mailbutler dashboard, and lots more to make handling emails easier. With Mailbutler, managing your emails becomes a breeze, helping you get more done without extra effort.

    Pros:

    • Generous Storage: Users start with 15 GB of free storage.
    • Secure: Gmail uses two-step verification, to protect user accounts from unauthorized access.
    • User-Friendly Interface: Its interface is intuitive and easy to navigate.
    • Advanced Organization: Features like labels, color coding, and AI-powered sorting help keep your inbox organized and efficient.
    • Cross-Platform Compatibility: Gmail works seamlessly across various devices and operating systems, including iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, ChromeOS, and Linux.
    • Innovative Features: Integration with Google's suite of applications and AI enhancements for Google Workspace subscribers.

    Cons:

    • Privacy Concerns: Being a free service, Gmail's business model involves data analysis for targeted advertising, raising privacy concerns for some users.
    • Attachment Size Limit: The 25MB limit on email attachments can be restrictive for sending large files, although this can be circumvented by using Google Drive.
    • AI Features Limited to Subscribers: The most advanced AI capabilities are reserved for Google Workspace subscribers.
    • Data Mining for Ads: Google scans emails for keywords to serve targeted ads, which might not sit well with all users in terms of privacy.

    Outlook.com

    Outlook.com

    Source: Microsoft

    Outlook.com, once known as Hotmail, ranks as the world's third most popular email service. Its Lite version has quickly gotten over 5 million downloads. A key highlight of Outlook.com is its free online versions of well-known applications like Word, Excel, and Teams.

    A significant update is the integration of Copilot AI within Outlook, capable of drafting or summarizing texts, scheduling meetings, suggesting actions, and even participating in video conferences on the user's behalf. Since January 2024, this AI feature has been available to both the general public and businesses of all sizes. Additionally, it was rolled out on Windows and integrated into the Edge browser, marking a significant enhancement in user experience and functionality.

    Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 costs $30 per user/month with a yearly commitment. It enhances productivity across Teams, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, and more. Features include AI chat and third-party app integration. Requires a license for Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Business Premium, E3, E5, or Office 365 E3, E5.

    Microsoft also announced a Copilot Pro subscription at only $20 per month. You can check more info here.

    Alternatively, Mailbutler's Smart Assistant has similar features at a better price. Mailbutler is GDPR compliant with secure servers in the EU.

    With the Smart Assistant, you can:

    • respond to emails with 1 click
    • summarize emails with 1 click
    • compose emails based on short keywords
    • create to-dos from emails
    • extracts and saves contact info from emails
    • improve spelling or grammar in your emails

    Source: Microsoft

    Pros:

    • Easy to Use: Works well with Microsoft apps like Word and Excel.
    • Keeps You Organized: Has good features for sorting emails and planning your day.
    • Safe: Strong security to protect your emails.
    • Add-ins: You can add various Outlook email add-ins to improve your email management.

    Cons:

    • Looks Old: Some might find it looks a bit dated.
    • Can Be Tricky: Might take some time to learn all its features.
    • Shows Ads: The free version has ads.

    Yahoo! Mail

    Yahoo Mail

    Source: Yahoo Mail

    Yahoo Mail, launched in 1997, has been a key player in the email service industry for decades. Despite losing some of its market share, it still boasts a solid base of 227.8 million active users, making it a significant messaging platform globally.

    Recently, Yahoo Mail announced beta access to new AI features, like information search, Writing Assistant, and Message Summary.

    Yahoo Mail offers basic customization options, such as theme changes and layout adjustments. Users can organize their inboxes with custom folders and filters, a feature similar to Microsoft's webmail services. One significant advantage is its 1 TB storage capacity, virtually eliminating the need for users to delete emails. For cloud storage, though, users must look elsewhere.

    Pros:

    • Apps: Available on both iOS and Android, making it accessible on the go.
    • Storage: Offers 1 TB for emails, ensuring users rarely need to worry about running out of space.

    Cons:

    • Ads: Targeted ads within the inbox, which can be intrusive.
    • Security: Lacks native encryption, which might be a concern for privacy-focused users.
    • Custom Domain: Does not support custom email domain names.

    AOL Mail

    AOL Mail is a free email service from AOL, part of Verizon Communications. It lets users send, receive, and organize emails easily. You can use AOL Mail on a computer through a web browser or on your phone with its apps for iOS and Android.

    Recommended post: Best email clients

    It helps you to check emails from other accounts like Yahoo, Gmail, and Outlook. You can attach files up to 16MB to an email. You also have the option to cancel sending emails to other AOL Mail addresses. This email also has protection against viruses and spam. You can customize certain settings and classify your folders to make them easier to find. This email address provider also has an integrated online chat system called AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).

    Pros:

    • Keep Contacts in Order: It's easy to add contacts from other email services or put them in yourself.
    • Sort Your Emails: You can make your own folders, use filters, and search to find emails fast.
    • Works with Other AOL Services: You can use it with AOL Calendar and more.

    Cons:

    • Ads: Users might see ads in their inbox, which can be distracting.
    • Limited Customization: While you can change themes, there's less freedom to customize other parts of your email experience.
    • Basic Security: AOL Mail has security features, but they may not be as advanced as those offered by some other email services.

    GMX Mail

    GMX Mail

    Source: GMX

    GMX Mail, launched in 1997, is a free, ad-supported email service by GMX, headquartered in Karlsruhe, Germany. It allows access via webmail, POP3, or IMAP4 protocols and is known for offering up to 10 email addresses per user, 65GB email storage, and a 50MB attachment limit.

    The service includes features like two-factor authentication for added security, PGP encryption, Mail Collector for managing emails from different accounts, and file storage options. Despite its robust offerings, users might encounter popup ads, a practice unique to GMX among major email providers.

    Pros:

    • Bigger Attachment Limit: With a 50 MB limit, users can send large files without hassle.
    • Multiple Account Management: Conveniently handle emails from various providers in one place.
    • PGP encryption: Encrypted PGP email features to keep communication private.

    Cons:

    • Interface: Some users may find the user interface less intuitive compared to other email services.
    • Ads Presence: Users can receive popup ads
    • Support Options: Customer support options may be limited, particularly for free account holders.

    Mail.com

    Mail.com email provider

    Source: Mail.com

    Mail.com, launched in 1995 and based in Philadelphia, offers free and premium email services with SSL encryption and two-factor authentication. It's unique for its wide choice of over 100 domain names. The service offers 65 GB of email storage. Owned by United Internet Group, the same company behind GMX Mail.

    Pros:

    • Offers over 100 unique domain names for creating email addresses.
    • Features a simple user interface for ease of use.
    • Sync capabilities across devices for consistent access.
    • Includes a mobile app available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

    Cons:

    • Poor mail management functionality, making organization challenging.
    • Customer support is reportedly non-existent.

    Yandex Mail

    Yandex Mail

    Source: Yandex

    Yandex Mail, part of Yandex LLC founded in 1997 in Russia, offers free and premium email services. It provides a secure platform with SSL encryption and two-factor authentication, known for its robust spam protection. The service is globally available, supporting multiple languages and featuring a user-friendly interface. Yandex Mail is owned by Yandex N.V., which also manages Yandex Search and other internet services.

    Pros:

    • Strong spam protection.
    • User-friendly interface and multilingual support.
    • Global availability.

    Cons:

    • Focus primarily on Russian-speaking markets may limit its appeal in other regions.
    • They are collecting data from their users (according to the Wired article)

    iCloud Mail

    iCloud mail

    Source: Apple

    iCloud Mail, launched by Apple Inc., integrates seamlessly with Apple devices, offering a clean, ad-free experience across macOS, iOS, and the web. It's recognized for its tight integration with other Apple services like iCloud Drive and Photos. iCloud Mail provides essential email functionalities with the added benefits of Apple's ecosystem, such as Find My iPhone and Calendar. The service prioritizes user privacy and security, featuring two-factor authentication.

    Pros:

    • Seamless integration with Apple devices and services.
    • Ad-free, clean interface.
    • Enhanced security and privacy features.
    • You can add Mail extensions (formerly plug-ins)

    Cons:

    • Primarily tailored for users within the Apple ecosystem.
    • Limited customization options compared to other email services.

    Encrypted email providers

    Skiff

    Skiff Mail

    Source: Skiff

    Skiff provides a privacy-first, end-to-end encrypted email service, offering secure communication with a focus on user privacy. It integrates email, calendar, documents, and file storage. The platform offers a free plan with 10 GB of storage, requiring no credit card to start. Skiff is committed to empowering users to communicate securely without compromising on privacy.

    Pros:

    • End-to-end encryption for maximum privacy.
    • 10 GB free storage on sign-up.
    • Integrated calendar and document sharing.

    Cons:

    • Newer to the market, might lack some advanced features.

    Tuta

    Tuta email provider

    Source: Tuta

    Tuta (formerly Tutanota) focuses on providing a secure, private, and encrypted email service. It emphasizes user privacy with end-to-end encryption for emails, calendars, and contacts. The service is ad-free, powered by renewable energy, and offers 1 GB of free storage. Tuta supports open-source development, ensuring transparency and security. They are based in Hanover, Germany.

    Pros:

    • Strong encryption and privacy.
    • Renewable energy-powered servers.
    • Open-source software for transparency.
    • All data is stored securely in Germany.

    Cons:

    • Limited storage compared to some competitors.
    • May require payment for additional features.

    Proton Mail

    Proton Mail

    Source: Proton Mail

    Proton Mail, focusing on security and privacy, provides encrypted email services from Switzerland, known for rigorous privacy laws. It's free with premium options for more features.

    Proton has over 100 million users, establishing itself as a leading email service provider. Its offerings have broadened to include a calendar, cloud storage, VPN, and a password manager.

    Pros:

    • End-to-end encryption.
    • Based in Switzerland for enhanced privacy.
    • Free basic account.

    Cons:

    • Limited features on the free plan (150 messages daily)
    • Premium plans are required for extra storage and features.
    • Only 1 GB of storage

    Mailbox.org

    Mailbox.org email provider

    Source: Mailbox.org

    Mailbox.org brings a refreshing twist to email service providers from Germany, offering not just encrypted emails but also calendars, an office suite, and cloud storage for just 1 euro a month. It's a paid service, but the focus on privacy, an ad-free environment, and extensive features make it an intriguing option. Perfect for those prioritizing security without breaking the bank.

    Pros:

    • 100% green energy usage.
    • Cloud storage
    • Based in Germany.
    • Ad-free.
    • IT security label (BSI security).

    Cons:

    • No free plan.
    • No mobile app.

    Posteo

    Posteo email provider

    Source: Posteo

    Posteo, based in Berlin, Germany, is an independent email service provider focusing on sustainability, security, and privacy. It offers fully encrypted email communication and is powered entirely by green energy. With a strong commitment to user anonymity and data protection, Posteo supports a wide range of features without requiring personal information for sign-up.

    Pros:

    • Full email and attachment encryption.
    • 2 GB email storage.
    • Cross-device compatibility - IMAP/POP3.
    • Two-factor authentication.
    • Anonymous payment options.
    • Powered by green energy.
    • GDPR-compliant for data protection.
    • No personal info is required for sign-up.

    Cons:

    Private-Mail

    Private-Mail

    Source: Private-Mail

    PrivateMail.com is a robust solution for those prioritizing email and file encryption. It offers a suite of features designed to protect user privacy and secure data with end-to-end encryption.

    However, potential users should consider the cost and the initial learning curve when evaluating its suitability for their needs.

    Pros:

    • Uses OpenPGP for secure email and file encryption.
    • Offers various levels of storage and features.
    • Includes email aliases, self-destructing emails, and secure file sharing.
    • Available on web, Android, iOS, and desktop.
    • Protects against cyber threats and ensures file encryption without server access to keys.
    • 24/7 customer assistance.

    Cons:

    • May be higher compared to basic or free services.
    • New users might find the security features complex.
    • Most advanced features require a paid subscription.

    Email providers FAQs

    What is the best free email?

    Gmail stands out as the top choice for many users worldwide, offering 15 GB of free storage, a user-friendly interface, and robust security features, including two-step verification. Its integration with Google's suite of applications enhances productivity and collaboration.

    What is the safest email provider that is free?

    Proton Mail is renowned for its focus on security and privacy, providing end-to-end encryption to ensure that emails remain private. Based in Switzerland, it benefits from the country's strict privacy laws, making it a top choice for users prioritizing security.

    Is there a better free email than Gmail?

    While Gmail is highly popular for its features and integration with Google services, Proton Mail offers superior privacy and security with its end-to-end encryption, appealing to users with the strictest privacy requirements.

    Is Yahoo Mail still free?

    Yes, Yahoo Mail continues to offer a free version, providing users with 1 TB of email storage. However, it includes targeted ads within the inbox.

    Is Proton Mail free?

    Proton Mail offers a free basic account, which includes end-to-end encryption and a focus on privacy. However, its free plan has limitations, such as a limit on daily messages and storage space.

    Can I get Gmail for free?

    Absolutely, Gmail provides a free version with 15 GB of storage, a user-friendly interface, and robust security measures, making it a popular choice for personal and professional use.

    Summary

    Selecting the perfect free email service depends on what you value most: convenience and features with services like Gmail, or privacy and security with options like Proton Mail.

    Pick the service that fits your needs and start enjoying a more secure and efficient email experience now.

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