What is the best free mailbox? Our 2021 comparison

In this comparison of the best free mailboxes, we review 8 reference online messengers. While some are some of the most popular in the world, others offer relevant features or advanced security options that we have found useful to offer you.

Indeed, the sending and receiving of emails have been, for many years now, essential elements of our daily lives. It is for this reason that each user must choose his messaging according to his needs and expectations. If at first glance some of them may seem quite similar to the others, we must pay attention to their features to get an idea of what they offer.

All webmails present in this selection are free. However, it should be noted that some of them have paid offers that allow access to more options and functions.

Gmail

Launched in 2004, Gmail is undoubtedly the most popular email in the world and claims nearly 2 billion users. Like the rest of the Google ecosystem, it is constantly evolving and regularly acquires new features making it increasingly interoperable with the other platforms of the Mountain View firm.

Very complete, Gmail is also an email accessible to all thanks to the optimization of its features, an undeniable strength to seduce Internet users looking for a simple tool to use.

Gmail

  • Complete and easy to use messaging
  • Provides access to the Google product ecosystem
  • Sorting messages for you

Free, comprehensive, simple and highly customizable, Google’s email service is the world’s most popular and suitable for all types of users.

A simple, optimized and customizable interface

Gmail is a convenient email that can save a lot of time since it sorts itself the emails received into different categories. In addition to the spam section, it also categorizes them in different categories, such as “Promotions” for everything related to offers, ” Social networks “, “Notifications” or ” Forum “”. It is also possible to customize these labels by going to the Gmail settings. Moreover, the latter offer many features made in Google that can improve the efficiency of the user when he writes his emails.

For example, it is possible to enable the suggestion of grammatical and spelling corrections, as well as autocorrect and text suggestion. More generally, the Gmail platform can be greatly customized according to the user’s preferences, with the possibility of setting the delay to cancel the sending of a message up to 30 seconds, which can be very convenient in case of error. Benefiting from Google technology, the search bar is very efficient and allows you to find an email quickly. Another very practical tip : Gmail gives the opportunity to schedule the sending of an email.

The flagship of Mountain View also makes it possible to group several couriers in the same place via a very simple maneuver. Offering a nice storage capacity of 15 GB free, it is possible to increase it to 100 GB, 200 GB or even 2 TB via a paid offer accessible from the settings of the service. Finally, the “Transfer and POP/IMAP” tab allows you to transfer your messages to another account automatically.

Gmail offers access to the Google ecosystem

One of the great advantages of using Gmail is that email provides a free gateway to the other services of the web giant : Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slide, etc.These are accessible from the small insert at the top right of the page. While they are widely used in the professional world, these different tools can also be practical for individuals.

The Google Meet video conferencing service is also directly integrated with messaging, in the same way as Google Chat instant messaging (ex-Hangouts). And it is possible to go even further by going to the Google Workspace Marketplace, an application store where you can integrate many software, such as Slack, Zoom, Dropbox or Asana, directly to Gmail in order to greatly optimize your time. Note that you can also have access to email via the paid subscription Google Workspace which will offer more storage capacity and the possibility of creating a professional email address.

It’s easy to see why Google’s email service is so successful: free, comprehensive, simple and highly customizable, it’s suitable for all types of users.

Outlook.com

Outlook.com is derived from Outlook Web ACcess, the reference of messengers in the world of work, and for good reason. It integrates seamlessly with the Windows infrastructure and the suite of software developed by Microsoft and dedicated to professionals. However, it was not easy at first. Formerly known as “Hotmail”, the email changed its name several times until Redmond came to terms with Outlook in 2013.

Three years later, the firm changes its shotgun by directly integrating Office 365 web applications with Outlook and has therefore begun a deep modification of its tool so that it is more adapted to other services offered by Microsoft with more features.

Outlook

  • Integration with the Office suite
  • Feature to sort your messages as you like
  • The task manager and calendar for the organization

Outlook email is integrated with the Office suite, which is widely used in the professional world and allows optimized productivity and better teamwork. It offers access to many of the Redmond firm’s services.

Several relevant features

Offering 15 GB of storage in its free version (it is possible to subscribe to Microsoft 365 to have access to more features), the mail offers, at first glance, a less optimized sorting than that of Gmail, its great rival, with two distinct tabs : one “Priority” and the second, ” Others “.

On the other hand, each user can customize his message management with very refined tools. It is thus possible to create many filters in which to sort your messages, for example for work or online commerce, and to set up “rules” so that the emails you receive go directly to one of them, by assigning a word, an email address or a header to a specific folder. Similarly, you can customize the actions you want to appear when you select a message to read, and schedule an email for later.

In addition, the tab located on the right of the home page and detailing what‘s new on the platform can be relevant to be aware of each innovation and take full advantage of it. One-click access to your contact list and all attachments is undoubtedly a plus, especially when you want to find a file quickly.

Not just a simple mailbox

Since May 2021, Outlook has removed the ability to connect new accounts to its email. Instead, it offers to create an alias that ” uses the same inbox, contact list, and account settings as your primary email address “. It is possible to use an already existing address to do this. Conversely, here too, the IMAP and POP protocols allow you to transfer all your messages to another mailbox.

In addition, the task manager and calendar (available for free via the small tabs on the left of the page), are very efficient and allow you to organize yourself very well. One can nevertheless wonder if these different tools are useful for Internet users simply looking for a lambda messaging. Many applications are also available for Outlook, such as PayPal for payments or even Dropbox. For this, just go to Microsoft Appsource and search for the application you need.

The undeniable advantage of Outlook remains its integration with the Microsoft 365 online suite, which is widespread in the professional world and allows for optimized productivity and better teamwork. Its features to organize your emails as you wish are very appreciable, while access to the web apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote directly from the mailbox is also a big argument for the productive. Finally, Microsoft’s cult video conferencing service, Skype, is also directly accessible from the mailbox, so it is possible to pass written messages to video conferencing with a single click.

Yahoo! Mail

Founded in 1997, Yahoo! Mail has remained for many years essential in the field of courier. However, the service of the American company has lost significant market share over time and now claims 200 million active users, so it remains one of the leading messengers in the world behind Gmail and Outlook.

Yahoo! Email

  • 1 TB of storage space
  • Very simple handling

With a very simplified interface and handling, Yahoo messaging is adequate for users looking for a service that focuses only on sending and receiving emails.

Very simple handling

Yahoo! Mail has a fairly minimalist and intuitive interface, something that is confirmed when it is taken in hand. Like Outlook and Gmail, one can change the theme and layout of the inbox easily by going to the settings of the service.

It is possible to customize your inbox by creating folders for specific categories of messages, and also to add filters so that these go directly to the right folders. This feature, useful for not scattering and organizing your email, looks much like the one present on Outlook. Here, too, email sorts spam itself, even if this tool does not always seem effective with some false positives, those emails filtered when they should have arrived in the main inbox.

Regarding the sending of message, the interface is highly intuitive and allows a very simple layout to realize. We can still regret the lack of a feature to schedule the sending of an email. It should also be noted that from the home page of the email, it is possible to go to the Yahoo site to have access to the news of the day, and even to choose a specific theme such as finance and sport to learn about these topics.

Limited functionality but normal stock

Beyond receiving and sending email, then Yahoo! Mail really stands out from its two big competitors. If email has a contact book, calendar, and notepad (accessible at the top right of the inbox), these offer limited functionality and little customization.

Messaging, on the other hand, has a big advantage by offering 1 to of storage for its emails. This means that it is unlikely to have to remove any. On the other hand, you will have to go through a third-party platform if you want to store your messages on the cloud, in this case Dropbox or Google Drive.

Targeted ads directly in the inbox

Yahoo! Mail offers to import messages from another email address, but if you want to transfer your messages to another account, it is necessary to subscribe to the Yahoo Mail Pro offer. This subscription is 3.60 euros per month (36 euros per year), which may seem slightly high for the benefits it offers.

In addition to message forwarding, the subscription offers “even faster performance”, as well as ad-free messaging. It must be said the ads are quite invasive by appearing above the emails in the inbox and to the right of the latter. To target its ads, Yahoo explains sift through ” information from your communications, photos, and attachments “. Undeniably, this is therefore a negative point for those who want to bet on privacy and security. You should also know that the firm will delete an account on Yahoo! Free email after 12 months of inactivity. It is also important to note that the search tool is very efficient and advanced.

In short, Yahoo email is suitable for users who want a simple tool specifically dedicated to sending and receiving emails. If you are looking for a messaging service with more advanced features, then you will have to turn to another service.

ProtonMail

Change course with ProtonMail, a messaging service whose trademark is data security. Created in 2013 by scientists at CERN (European Organization for Scientific Research), the platform is now managed by a team from major global research centers such as Caltech, Harvard or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and claims several million users.

ProtonMail focuses on locating its servers to ensure data security. The latter are based in Switzerland, where data protection legislation is particularly strict. In addition, the messaging code is open source, which guarantees its transparency.

ProtonMail

  • Robust and secure infrastructure
  • Extreme simplification of encryption
  • Located in Switzerland

ProtonMail is a serious alternative to Gmail for anyone who wants to regain their privacy. Especially Protonmail redefines encryption by putting it within everyone’s reach. Certainly, it will probably be necessary to adopt the paid version to make the most of it but it is an excellent first choice for anyone who wants to start getting rid of the services of GAFAM by being assured that the communications remain private.

Data security first

When creating an account on ProtonMail, no personal information is requested from the user,. This is already a big difference from conventional mailboxes. The firm also specifies that it does not keep the IP logs linked to the account. When it comes to email security, ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption and zero access architecture : only the recipient can read the message, the company has no access to it because the data is encrypted with an encryption key.

Note, however, that encryption is not automatically ensured when sending an email to a person not using ProtonMail. If, for example, you want to write to a recipient with a Gmail or Outlook address, then you have the option to choose encryption by clicking on the small padlock at the bottom left of the send tab. It will be necessary to set a password that the recipient will have to enter on his side in order to read it.

However, if someone sends you an email from a regular address, it will not be protected by end-to-end encryption. ProtonMail also offers to send ephemeral emails whose life time before destruction is set by the user. Messaging also takes care, shortly after creating an account, to send an email explaining how to make it as secure as possible and how to prevent cyberattacks or online scams with tutorials provided as an attachment.

Simple and modern messaging

If one is interested in the primary function of ProtonMail, that is to say the reception and sending of emails, the messaging perfectly fulfills its function with a crystal clear interface and a fairly simple handling. It offers formatting options for sending messages, although we regret the lack of an option to add an emoji.

By going to the advanced email settings, it is possible to create and manage folders and labels to better organize your messages, as well as filters to perform automatic sorting. It should be noted, however, that with the free offer of ProtonMail, it is possible to create only 3 labels and folders. Indeed, messaging offers different premium offers providing much more benefits.

ProtonMail offers

ProtonMail being a service without any advertising, it is therefore logical that e the publisher offers several paid subscriptions. The free version still offers quite limited functionality with only 500 MB of storage and the impossibility of adding multiple addresses to the email in addition to a limited number of folders. The next offer is called Plus and costs 4 euros per month. It offers 5 GB of storage, the ability to add up to five addresses, create 200 folders and labels and customize its address with domain name. Also worth noting is ProtonDrive, the company’s cloud offering that is end-to-end encrypted.

ProtonMail has two other subscriptions : Professional for companies and Visionary for families or small teams, at 6.25 and 24 euros per month respectively. With more users and addresses available, they also offer more storage. The Visionary subscription stands out, however, because it includes ProtonVPN, which protects user traffic on the web. Finally, it is good to know that a calendar, also encrypted, is included in the free offer.

To conclude, ProtonMail is an email for those for whom online data protection is paramount and who are willing to pay to guarantee it. It also benefits from a simple and efficient interface that perfectly fulfills its primary function.

Mailo

If this name doesn’t tell you anything, Mailo is far from unknown. Founded in 1998, the 100% French courier has had many owners and changed its name several times, it is particularly known as NetCourrier. However, it was in 2019 that it obtained its current name. Mailo guarantees its users high security by storing their data on servers located within France. It also ensures that messages are not read, sold and exploited.

You should also know that Mailo is not just a simple webmail, but offers various services that are grouped on a single page. Tour of horizons.

Mailo

  • Secure servers located in France
  • Provides access to various services
  • Encryption and recommended emails

In addition to being a complete email, Mailo offers several advantageous services as well as advanced security options. Despite an interface that would need a little bit of modernity, it fulfills its functions perfectly.

The different offers of Mailo

Mailo offers a free offer and several subscriptions at a tempting price compared to some other couriers. the first one indeed starts at 1 euro per month. Even with the Freemium version, many features are available. In contrast, the free edition differs from paid offerings in terms of storage, access to the OnlyOffice office suite (which includes a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool), and advertising. With the free offer, two ads are constantly displayed on the webmail home page, and the user has 1 GB of storage and 25 MB for attachments. We also find a cloud storage space of 500 MB for documents, photos, etc.This space is logically expanded with paid subscriptions.

In addition, the basic version does not allow forwarding messages received on Mailo to another account, which is allowed through the premium version. However, it should be noted that the free service is quite complete and opens the door to almost all the features of messaging, and allows you to make a complete opinion of it to decide, or not, to switch to a paid subscription.

In addition to a special offer for families and another for professionals, Mailo offers to create a special account for children from 6 to 14 years, allowing them to have their own email address. The company has put in place a “suitable and secure environment”, which may be relevant for teaching younger people how messaging works. Thus, the child will only be able to communicate with family members, while messages sent from another address to his or her own will be redirected directly to that of his or her parent or guardian.

A grouping of services

When creating an account on Mailo, one quickly realizes that webmail is different from conventional mail with many security logs as well as several tests to ensure that the user is not a bot. Moreover, Mailo offers about thirty different domain names for its email address, consequence of its history, here are some examples : mailo.com, netcourrier.com, europamel.net, etc.

When you log in to your Mailo account, you arrive at a very complete dashboard that can however seem slightly clutter. It brings together the different services of the company including account information, offers, or the company blog. This dashboard gives access to all the services offered by Mailo including, of course, messaging.

The latter has a fairly classic interface with, on the right, five small tabs giving access to a customizable calendar, its contact list, its cloud space, a notepad and the Qwant search engine. The latter is indeed directly integrated into the Mailo interface. Ultra practical functionality: it is possible to drag elements of these different tools directly into the outbox of a message so that the interlocutor also has access to them. In addition, Mailo is very convenient because it allows you to transfer your messages from another address in a very simple way, and offers many integrated applications. Like other webmails, it also offers the opportunity to change the theme and layout of its email.

Interesting features within messaging

As for messaging itself, we find the usual features with the possibility of adding filters to optimize the sorting of messages. Like Gmail, Mailo automatically sorts spam, emails from social networks, and also has a specific folder for newsletters. For its part, the user also has the ability to create new folders.

Mailo includes a feature to send a registered message : in addition to an acknowledgment received when the email is opened by the interlocutor, it is also possible to encrypt it with a password. Another great advantage of webmail is that it allows you to encrypt your messages by obtaining a pair of PGP encryption keys so that only the recipient can read it. We also note the possibility of sending an email as an SMS, as well as sending visual cards for special occasions.

In addition to being a complete email, Mailo offers several advantageous services as well as advanced security options. Despite an interface that would need a little bit of modernity, it fulfills its functions perfectly.

GMX

After Mailo, here is another European service, this time from Germany. Launched in 2009 in France, GMX bought all the domain names of CaraMail, the famous messaging necessarily known by those who were teenagers in the 2000s…

Today, GMX is used by just over 10 million people on the Old Continent and promises secure messaging in addition to offering some relevant services besides receiving and sending emails.

GMX

  • Completely free service
  • Unlimited storage capacity
  • OfficeOnline and integrated document templates

GMX is a complete webmail in terms of features despite a somewhat rustic design. However, it is better to communicate with people who also use this messaging to take full advantage of its many functions.

Completely free and complete messaging

When creating a GMX account, it is not a lie to say that the homepage of the site is not frankly convincing, the same when arriving on the mail itself whose interface, at first glance, lacks an ounce of modernity. Another negative point : the page is invaded by advertisements… But once past these visual defects, we realize that GMX is a very well lurked and attractive service for several reasons.

Indeed, the webmail, which is completely free, offers unlimited storage capacity as well as a cloud space of 2 GB. The user also has access to a calendar, a contact book, but also an online Office suite; This includes a spreadsheet, a tool to create slideshows (a kind of PowerPoint), as well as formats for writing letters. Moreover, OfficeOnline directly offers templates to create specific documents : termination contract, resume, schedule, to-do list, recipe, invoice, brochure, etc

It is also possible to add your other email addresses in the email to centralize everything, while the IMAP3 and POP functions can be activated to be able to transfer your emails to another webmail. On the personalization side of the messaging, GMX sins slightly compared to other services because it is only possible to change its color. Finally, the servie allows you to create up to 10 alias addresses.

Relevant functions

By going to the GMX settings, the user can set up an encrypted communication by adding the Mailvelope extension . Subsequently, it is possible to choose the option of end-to-end encryption when sending an email ; note, however, that this feature is more relevant when exchanging with a recipient who also has GMX, like many other functions of the mail.

When sending an email, several useful options can be enabled. For example, it is possible to make the message confidential, attach your business card or request an acknowledgment of receipt (which will be provided in the form of an email). As with end-to-end encryption, these functions work mostly with people using GMX. In addition, it is possible to cancel the sending of a message for a few seconds and send attachments of up to 50 MB, a considerable size compared to other services. For example, Gmail’s attachment capacity is 25 MB.

In addition to automatic spam detection, GMX also allows you to create filters and folders to properly sort your messages, with quite extensive and complete functions. One can for example choose a specific folder according to the size of the email received.

To conclude, GMX is a complete webmail in terms of features despite a somewhat rustic design. However, it is better to communicate with people who also use this messaging to take full advantage of its many functions.

Mailfence

Also a European flagship, Mailfence is a Belgian service launched in 2013 with an idea in mind : to offer ” a secure mail service totally dedicated to respect for privacy “. Not dependent on any third party and storing its users ‘ data in Belgium, email offers end-to-end encryption based on the open source OpenPGP standard, which means that it works perfectly with other encrypted services compatible with it.

Mailfence has built a solid reputation with both users and cybersecurity experts and also offers a suite of services for individuals and businesses.

Mailfence

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Personal encryption keys
  • Offers an Office suite

Mailfence is a relevant email choice for people who want to protect their data as much as possible, especially since the platform offers a suite of useful services that can be found on large webmails. However, it will be necessary to favor a paid subscription to use it as the main messaging.

Multiple encryption options

Like other highly secure email,Mailfence offers paid subscriptions that greatly increase its capabilities. This allows the publisher to offer a guaranteed service without advertising. However, end-to-end encryption is still available with the free version of email. Going to the settings of Mailfence, there is a section specially dedicated to this feature. It allows to generate a public or personal encryption key, with for the latter option the possibility to choose the encryption algorithm.

Then the user can activate the automatic signing of all his messages with his personal key. Mailfence also takes care to remind the importance of online security directly in its email with, for example, a small paragraph present in the settings explaining why encryption makes it possible to secure its personal data.

Encryption options are also available when sending an email. In this case, one has the choice between OpenPGP encryption and password protection. If the first works only with interlocutors who also have an OpenPGP-based email, the second allows you to send an encrypted email to anyone. The recipient will only have to know the password to decrypt it as with ProtonMail.

Other useful information about Mailfence : the company maintains a blog full of tips on cybersecurity, and also looks back on current events in this area.

A ” secure alternative to Gmail “

Let’s go to the interface of the platform. Basic and quite easy to use, it still lacks customization options such as changing its color for example. Arriving on the dashboard of Mailfence, one has access to other services offered by the company, which ensures being the best secure alternative to Gmail.

Indeed, Mailfence also makes a calendar available to its users, as well as a cloud space where to store its documents and a contact book. It is even possible to create a survey to be included in the calendar and create groups ; these allow you to freely share your data with other people. Note, however, that it is only possible to create it with a paid version of messaging.

You will have to pay to use Mailfence as your primary email

And this is true for many of Mailfence’s features : it is much better to subscribe to a paid offer in order to use it as the main email. For example, creating alias addresses, creating filters to sort your emails, IMAP and POP protocols to retrieve or forward messages from other email addresses as well as creating a personal domain name…. all of these features can only be activated with one of Mailfence’s three paid plans. Ranging from 2.50 to 25$ per month, these offer a very complete experience on the platform.

Mailfence proves to be a relevant email choice for people wishing to protect their data as much as possible, especially since the platform offers a suite of useful services that can be found on large webmails. However, it will be necessary to favor a paid subscription to use it as the main messaging.

iCloud Mail

To finish this ranking, head to the messaging that is created as soon as the user of an Apple device creates an iCloud account. The webmail of the brand to the apple does indeed much less talk about it than its competitors from Google or Microsoft, and for good reason : it has much less features than these… but what is it really worth ?

Cloud Mail

  • Simple and intuitive interface
  • Interoperability with other Apple services

iCloud Mail is a preferred email for major Apple aficionados who do not want to leave the ecosystem of the brand to the apple. As a pure and hard webmail, it is a very simplified service but it sins slightly in terms of functionality compared to other messengers.

Basic messaging…

First of all, it should be known that this email is intended for personal use and thus has a limit of 1,000 messages to be sent per day and 1,000 recipients to which it is possible to write. For sending attachments, iCloud Mail provides a fairly large storage with 20 MB, a figure that can reach 25 MB if Mail Drop is enabled.

On the functionality side, the webmail made in Apple offers the ba-ba. It is thus possible to create folders and subfolders whose function is to better sort your mails, and to set up filters to send messages directly in them. The email settings are quite minimal, with some preferences for receiving and writing emails, as well as the ability to create an absence message in case of going on vacation or otherwise.

As often with Apple, it is not possible to customize the interface of iCloud Mail, its handling is still quite intuitive with a minimalist design, as usual with the services and products of the Cupertino firm.

… but perfectly integrated into the Apple ecosystem

There is one point on which messaging has a definite advantage : its interoperability with other Apple services. On the home page, it is indeed possible to directly access many of them : contacts, calendar, Photos, iCloud Drive, notes, reminders, Pages, Numbers or the Find My iPhone function.

iCloud Mail offers the ability to create up to 3 alias addresses. On the other hand, webmail does not allow adding addresses of another service in order to centralize its messaging. Conversely, there is an option to forward the received messages to another address.

Not surprisingly, iCloud Mail is a preferred email for big Apple aficionados who do not want to leave the ecosystem of the brand to the apple. As a pure and hard webmail, it is a very simplified service but it sins slightly in terms of functionality compared to other messengers.

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