Choosing an email provider

Many people use the mail service provided by their internet provider (such as CenturyLink or Comcast). Or whatever they've had for years. But this isn’t always the best option.

Email offered by your internet provider is especially problematic. What if you move or change ISPs? You may lose your email address - or pay extra to keep it. Even the email provided by your web host (such as GoDaddy) may leave a lot to be desired.

We recommend iCloud, Google (Gmail or Google Apps) or Microsoft (Hotmail or Office 365) for Apple users. They are directly supported on all Apple equipment and most other platforms. And they support the modern email standards, which sync your inbox, sent and other folders on all your computers and devices.

Here’s a little background on different kinds of email systems

Webmail is the simplest type of email, and it keeps all messages on the email server so you can access them from anywhere as long as you have internet. Yahoo is a prime example of a webmail service. But a web browser is never as full-featured as a dedicated email app designed for your computer, smartphone or tablet. You may not have spell check, it may be difficult to attach files, and you may not be able to easily sort mail or store it for future reference. Some free webmail providers even insert ads into your email messages!

With webmail, you have to keep the web page up at all times or risk missing an important email. You’ll need to log into different sites if you have multiple email addresses. And when your mailbox is full, you’re forced to delete messages. With such severe limitations, we never recommend a strictly web-based email system.

POP mail downloads messages to your computer. You can use webmail or an email application such as Mac Mail or Microsoft Outlook. But once you’ve read a message it may be deleted from the server in a week or two. This makes it important to back up your main computer or you risk losing your email archive.

POP (Post Office Protocol) is very inconvenient if you use more than one computer or device because it doesn’t support two-way sync. All new incoming messages will be delivered to each device and they all appear unread, even if you read them somewhere else. If you delete a message on your desktop computer, it might remain on your laptop or iPhone where it must be deleted again. Messages you send appear only on the device used to send them. Likewise, mailbox folders don’t show on all devices. In fact, no single device or server has all the messages you've sent and received.

IMAP and other modern protocols are better. Your inbox, sent mail, and other mailboxes are on the server, and also sync them with copies on your computers and devices, such as iPhone and iPad. You’ll use a dedicated email app (Mail or Outlook). Apple’s default settings keep all messages on all devices; Outlook on Windows can be configured in a similar way. If you have more than one email account, you’ll see all of them in the same app, sharing a common address book and interface. If you like to sort email into folders (mailboxes), those are also available on all devices. It’s easy to search all your messages at once or back them up.

Here’s an example of the modern advantages. Suppose you receive an email on your office computer and send a reply. You also delete a junk email. Later you check your mail on your home computer or on your iPhone. You’ll see the message you received at work has been marked read. And if you look in the Sent box, you’ll see your reply. And the junk email has already been deleted. Anything you do to your inbox, sent items, or drafts on one device will be done on all others, making email management simple.

iCloud Google & Microsoft – the best choices for Apple users

All Apple devices have built-in iCloud, Google and Microsoft support. These providers provide excellent IMAP email and web interfaces as well. Which do you choose?

iCloud. Apple’s free iCloud sync service includes optional email with an address. Anyone can get iCloud for free and it’s a perfect fit for Mac, iPhone & iPad users. And iCloud does much more than email – it also syncs your contacts, calendars, bookmarks and photos between devices. You get web-based word processor, spreadsheet & presentation apps that sync with apps on your Apple device. And you can share calendars with other Apple users. Learn more about iCloud, then set it up on your MaciPhone/iPad or Windows PC.

Gmail. Google services are a great solution for people with an Android smartphone but they also work well with Apple. Google includes IMAP with 15 GB of storage as part of their free Gmail service.  Like iCloud, Google has a wide range of services that go beyond email. Learn more about Gmail here, and set up Google services on your Mac, iPhone/iPad or Windows PC.

Google also offers a professional service called Google Apps so people can share calendars and email with a common domain, such as It’s $50/year per email account. Google Apps requires some advanced configuration, so contact us for help.

Microsoft email is also a good choice. Hotmail is fine for home use, and Outlook/Office 365 provide excellent services for business users, including email, contacts, calendars, OneDrive and shared online storage.

We can migrate your current email to a new system, sometimes without even changing your email addresses. Contact us for a quote.

Learn more about email & iCloud.

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