It’s nearly impossible to imagine life without email. Facebook and Twitter may come and go, but email still remains the medium of choice for all business communication. This is the reason why a robust, feature-rich email service provider is a necessity to stay on top of business today.
In this article, we will take a look at four email service providers – Gmail, Outlook, YMail and Thexyz, and see what their best (and worst) features are.
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Gmail – by Google – is arguably the best email service online. From deep integration with existing Google services (Plus, search, YouTube, Docs, and Drive, for starters), and a robust list of features, it’s the first choice of more than 425M users online.
UI: One of Gmail’s best feature is its strikingly minimalist UI. When the service was first launched in 2004, this UI was a refreshing change from the clunky interfaces that dominated most email service providers of the day. Of course, the UI isn’t just aesthetically pleasing; it is also highly functional, making it easy to deal with hundreds of emails quickly.
Storage: Gmail also offers large storage (10.1 GB – and increasing – which is a lot) space which means you’ll have plenty of room to store all those hefty PDFs and image files.
Google Search: Searches within Gmail are powered by Google’s search engine. Which not only means that you get access to the best search service possible, but can also use filters to narrow down your search to specific folders, dates, or file types.
Priority Inbox: Gmail automatically sorts your mail into Important, Starred and Everything Else depending on who is sending a mail.
Spam Filters: Gmail’s spam filters are among the best in the industry – thanks to all the tricks Google learned running its search engine. Though the occasional spam mail might slip through, you’ll more or less get a spanking clean inbox.
Inbox Tabs: One of Gmail’s latest features is the tabbed inbox. With this feature, Google automatically sorts your email into ‘Primary’, ‘Social’ and ‘Promotional’ categories which can be accessed through separate tabs at the top – a huge timesaver for people who receive a ton of email.
Gmail Labs: From preventing drunk emails to showing your current location in your email signature, there are dozens of nifty features stowed away in Gmail Labs.
Docs, Drive, and Plus: There are plenty of perks that come with a Google account. For starters, you have instant messaging in the form of Gtalk, social networking in the form of Google+, and easy integration with services like Google Drive, Voice, Docs, etc.
Security: Gmail is one of the few free email service providers that offers two-step authentication. This makes your email nearly impossible to hack.
Mobile Access: If you use Android, Gmail’s deep integration into the OS makes it the best email service provider around.
Plugins: If the default Gmail features fall a little short of expectations, you can check out the dozens of Gmail extensions, including the popular Rapportive, Mailbox, etc.
Gmail may have everything a lay user could ask for, but it’s still not exactly perfect. Two chief concerns for most users are:
No Preview Pane: Without a preview pane, you can’t really read an email and view the inbox at the same time.
Privacy: The Google ads algorithm automatically ‘reads’ your emails and shows you appropriate ads in the Gmail sidebar. This has been the source of tons of privacy concerns, which have been amplified in light of the recent accusations of Google’s collusion in the NSA monitoring scandal.
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The revamped version of Hotmail, Outlook has a lot of things going for it (not to be confused with Microsoft’s desktop mail management software of the same name). Let’s take a closer look.
UI: Microsoft surprised everyone when it released Outlook.com with a stunning, Metro-inspired minimalist UI. The old Hotmail was slow and clunky; Outlook.com is beautiful and functional, perhaps even moer than Gmail.
Skype and Facebook Messaging: Microsoft owns Skype and sits on the Facebook board. This unique position makes it possible for Microsoft to offer extensive messaging services built right into Outlook. A single click gives you access to all your Facebook and Skype friends – a feature even Gmail can’t boast of.
Customizability: Outlook also offers a high degree of customizability i.e. you can configure your account according to your priorities. You can set up filters, manage tabs and classify mails according to their degree of importance.
Microsoft Account: If a Google account comes with privileges, how can Microsoft be far behind? Outlook offers direct integration with SkyDrive and several other Windows Live Tools. It works charmingly well with Windows Phone and Windows 8 as well.
Great though it may be, Outlook.com is still defined by it being not Gmail. It’s UI is great, the list of features very strong, but there’s nothing particularly special about it which might cause people to shift their loyalties to Microsoft instead of Google. Sure, the Skype and Facebook integration is nice but useful only if you like to chat a lot inside your email. For most parts, Outlook falls short when compared to Gmail, though existing Hotmail users should now have no reasons to complain!
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Remember the good old days when Gmail wasn’t around and you had an account on Yahoo Mail? Well, Yahoo Mail has come a long way since then. Read on to know more:
Updated UI: The most recent layout of Yahoo Mail is quite similar to the one sported by Gmail and Outlook with some exceptions. Yahoo has the same three pane model but the right pane is divided into two sections with previews being available in the bottom section.
Yahoo Messenger: Yahoo also offers integrated instant messaging through Yahoo Messenger along with an integrated calendar and contact list.
Filters, Tabs and More: Once again, you can create filters, star emails and sort them into tabs. One of the unique features of Yahoo Mail is that it lets you open photos and videos in the inbox itself i.e. you won’t be directed to a separate tab when you click on a photo or a video.
No IMAP: Yahoo still doesn’t offer IMAP access i.e. with Yahoo, you can’t access your email account from different locations at once.
Image Ads: Unfortunately, Yahoo Mail is still plagued with advertisements. Sure enough, all free email providers have this problem but it seems to be more acute in the case of Yahoo, which isn’t shy of plopping ugly image ads right next to your Inbox (though this practice may not last long under Marissa Meyer’s leadership).
Yahoo Mail has long been ignored by the company with the result that its current features fall far short of both Outlook and Gmail. That said, Yahoo has started paying attention to the service again and announced a bunch of new features, which should be enough to keep existing users from jumping ship.
Thexyz Premium Email
If you don’t mind paying for your email account, Thexyz is a great option for you. This email provider is meant primarily for a professional, enterprise audience and boasts a ton of advanced features.
Automatic Backup: Thexyz provides a backup of every email ever sent or received. This way, you never lose a mail, never. The backup feature is a major crowd puller in the enterprise world where data is crucial.
Attachment Size:This premium email provider also offers larger space allotment not just for saving mails but also for sending attachments. For instance, you can send attachments amounting to 50MB in a single email.
Enterprise Grade Features: Features like integrated group calendars and active syncing with smartphones make Thexyz well suited for a professional workplace.
Easy Migration: Finally, the migration process is handled in a very professional way and every single bit of information stored on your prior email account is transferred to your new one at Thexyz mail.
Thexyze is decidedly not as pretty as Outlook or Gmail – although that shouldn’t make a difference to its enterprise customers. It also doesn’t have a huge plugin library like Gmail or deep integration with Skype/Facebook like Outlook. This is an email service meant strictly for enterprise customers or users who like the idea of automated backups.
Learn how to get even more out of your email by leveraging IFTTT, virtual assistants and Gmail to get things done fast!
What are your favorite email service providers from this list? Tell us in the comments below!