What Is Webmail?
The first electronic mail, or email for short, was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson from one Digital Equipment Corporation DEC-10 computer to another DEC-10. Today, approximately 306 billion (yes, billion) emails are sent every single day.
While some users rely on specialized email client software like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, most send messages from free web based email services using a standard web browser.
Here are a few things you should know about webmail:
- Compared with desktop email clients, web mail's main advantage is the ability to send and receive messages from any device with a modern web browser.
- Most web mail providers don't require users to own a domain name in order to create an email address.
- Secure webmail services support end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and other important security features to protect sensitive messages from hackers and malicious third parties.
- In most cases, it's possible to connect an email client software application to a webmail secure server using the POP3 or IMAP4 protocol.
- Some providers of free webmail analyze the content of their users' email messages and share anonymized information about their purchasing habits and preferences with advertisers to generate revenue.
- Many web hosting providers include free web mail in their web hosting plans. A good example is webmail GoDaddy. There are also some internet service providers that give their customers a free web based email address, such as webmail Cox.
Top 7 Best Free Webmail Providers
Choosing a free webmail provider can be difficult because there are so many to choose from, and some offer far more storage space and far better features and security than others.
To help you select the best web based email service provider for you, we've done a lot of testing, and here's our ranking.
Gmail was released in 2004, and it didn't take a long time for it to become the best web based email service in the world. Its intuitive user interface is both inviting and functional, exposing Gmail's plethora of features without overwhelming users. All Gmail users get 15 GB of storage space for free, but it's important to note that this storage space is shared between all Google services.
Unlike most other web based email services, Gmail organizes email messages using labels instead of folders. Arguably the biggest advantage of labels is the fact that a single email message can have several of them at once. This allows for more granular email organization and easier email filtering.
- Plenty of email storage space.
- Thorough malware and virus checking.
- Seamless access to other Google services.
- Fantastic reliability.
- Most attractive email addresses are already taken.
- Storage space shared between all Google services.
Outlook.com is the best free webmail for those who are heavily invested in Microsoft's ecosystem of products and services. Office 365 subscribers get an ad-free inbox with 50 GB of storage space, while all other users get 15 GB. Webmail Outlook.com is in many ways far more modern than its desktop counterpart, which is great news for those who have found Outlook on desktop to be difficult to use.
Because Outlook.com hasn't been around for nearly as long as Gmail, it's still relatively easy to find attractive domain names that haven't been registered by someone else. Just know that Outlook.com is infamous for marking legitimate emails as spam, so take advantage of its whitelist feature to prevent this from happening too often.
- Integrates well with other Microsoft services.
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Support for large attachments.
- Great for Office 365 subscribers.
- Legitimate emails sometimes end up in the spam folder.
Many free web based email services sell anonymized information about their users to advertisers and other third parties, but not ProtonMail. This privacy-oriented email provider offers exceptional levels of privacy and security, making it ideal for those who would like to keep their data to themselves.
ProtonMail is based in Switzerland, and it automatically encrypts all email messages with strong end-to-end encryption. Because its code is published online, cybersecurity experts can look at it and verify that ProtonMail really delivers on its promises. So far, the service has passed all audits with flying colors.
- Servers located in Switzerland.
- Polished mobile applications available.
- Truly free secure webmail service.
- No POP3 support.
- IMAP access only with the ProtonMail Bridge.
Yandex.Mail is an attractive web mail service provided by the Russian company Yandex. All free users get 10 GB of storage space, which is shared across all Yandex services, including Yandex.Disk, a cloud-based storage service similar to Google Drive or Dropbox.
Despite being relatively unknown outside Russia, at least among regular folk, Yandex.Mail offers a polished email experience and first-class spam protection, which automatically highlights emails from real people, making it easier to separate them from marketing emails, notifications, and newsletters. You can customize your Yandex.Mail inbox to suit your email management style or mood and add your other Yandex inboxes under a single Yandex.Mail account.
- Support for large attachments.
- Simple HTML version available for older web browsers.
- No advertising anywhere.
- Integrates with Yandex.Disk.
- Geared toward the Russian market.
GMX is based in Germany and available for two different markets. The German version (GMX.net) offers only 1 GB of email storage space, while the international version (GMX.com) offers 65 GB. Both versions support very large file attachments, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that GMX is often used by business professionals who need to share large documents and project files with other team members.
Unfortunately, the international version of GMX doesn't support two-factor authentication, so make sure to use a strong password. Because GMX supports all commonly used protocols used by email clients, you should be able to access your GMX inbox from any client.
- Clean user interface.
- Support for large file attachments up to 50MB.
- Mobile app for Android and iOS.
- No two-factor authentication.
Tutanota claims to be the world's most secure web mail service, and we have no reason to doubt its claim. Because it's secure and private by design, users don't need to worry about complicated privacy options and encryption settings—everything just works right out of the box.
Despite its hardened nature, Tutanota is just as easy to use as other web based email services featured in this article. It even offers apps for iOS and Android, so you can securely access your emails anywhere and at any time. What it doesn't offer is POP or IMAP access, which means that you can't manage your Tutanota inbox using third-party tools.
- Great privacy protection.
- Fully open source web mail.
- Solid Android and iOS apps.
- Extensive keyboard shortcut support.
- No POP or IMAP access.
Despite its old age, AOL is still relevant today because it keeps improving its free web mail service and giving users more and more reasons to keep faithful to their AOL email address. Perhaps the biggest reason to use AOL is the fact that you get an unlimited amount of email storage space—not even Gmail offers that!
Besides unlimited storage space, AOL also boasts an attractive design and straightforward user experience with an integrated calendar and to-do lists.
- Straightforward user experience.
- Familiar folder-based email management.
- Integrated calendar and to-do lists.
- Unlimited AOL webmail storage.
- Questionable security.
Bonus: Use Clean Email to Manage Your Web Based Email Address
Unfortunately, not all web based email services offer equally useful email management features and reliable spam protection. It can take as little as a few weeks for your inbox to turn into an unorganized pile of unwanted newsletters, dangerous phishing emails, and annoying promotional offers.
To restore it to its former glory, you have two options. You could spend several hours going through your inbox and manually sorting each individual email message according to its type. Or you can use a bulk inbox organizer like Clean Email and do the same job in just a few minutes.
Besides grouping email messages into easy-to-review bundles that you can manage just as easily as individual emails, Clean Email can also prevent newsletters and unwanted subscriptions from showing up in your inbox, block unwanted senders, and automatically manage incoming emails based on rules that you can create with a simple click.
Clean Email works with all IMAP-based webmail services, including Gmail, Outlook.com, Yandex.Mail, AOL, and others.
Despite its age, email isn't going anywhere, which is why there are so many excellent providers of web based email services competing for users, who benefit the most from the arrangement. Regardless of if you end up with just one free webmail address or five, you should always use Clean Email to manage your email messages more efficiently so that you can focus on more important things.