Guide to email services and email providers - choosing the right provider.

email providers
The Internet revolution has brought us many new tools which we can use in everyday life, one of the most useful of these tools is the email system (for a beginners guide to email click here).

In this section we look at email providers and at the pros and cons of using free email services as opposed to paid providers.

Email providers

There are no shortage of email providers in existence, all of whom offer a standard email system: an email address along with the ability to send and receive emails.

Many email providers offer certain features on top of the standard email system. For example, both Yahoo! and Hotmail offer excellent Instant Messenger systems which can be used with your email ID and password, removing the need to signup separately for a messenger service.

Two other things that set email providers apart is the amount of space they allow for email storage, and the maximum size of email attachments, both of which are covered below.

Email storage space

An email provider will (in most cases) limit the amount of space you can use to store your emails and any attachments. The amount of space varies throughout the many providers, they will set the limit by how much space they themselves have available.

In the early days of the Internet and the email system storage space was fairly limited, but due to technological developments, hard drive technology in particular, storage space has become a less expensive commodity in recent years allowing email providers to offer much more space to their users than they used to do.

The space an email provider offers is usually stated in MB (Megabytes) or GB (Gigabytes), with typical email providers offering between 100MB and 5GB.

To put storage space into perspective, an average email containing just plain text is around 25KB (Kilobyte), 1MB is equal to 1,000KB (decimal interpretation). So, in theory, 100MB would allow you to store roughly 4,000 plain text emails. In reality however the number would be much lower, typical emails use formatting such as bold letters or italic text which all adds to the space needed to store them, not to mention any attachments that may accompany an email such as photos or documents.

The amount of storage space you will require will be dictated by the amount of emails and attachments you intend to receive.

Some of the more popular free email providers, namely, Yahoo!, Hotmail, and GMail (GoogleMail), all offer a massive amount of storage space. See the provider's specifications below in the free email provider section for more detail.

Email attachment size

When you send an email, as you may already know, you can attach a file or several files which the recipient of the email can then download. Attachments can be virtually any type of file but your email provider will usually set a limit on the size of the file, or files, that you can attach.

This limit may apply to the size of a single attachment, or, if you can attach multiple files to a single email, to the total of all attachments per email.

As you can see, the size of the attachment limit that is set by an email provider will influence what you are able to send along with an email. To give you some idea of how the limit may affect certain scenarios let's take exchanging photos via email as an example. A typical, good quality photo would be around 1MB (MegaByte) in size, if your email provider's attachment limit was 5MB then you would be able to attach up to 5 photos to any single email.

One final thing about attachment limits to keep in mind, the person you are sending the email to may have a lower attachment size limit than you and subsequently the email would not arrive. When possible always confirm the recipient's limit is sufficient.

For more about email attachments click here.

Business email providers

If you are looking for an email solution for your business there are many B2B email providers around. The levels of service and the features offered vary between the providers, but there are usually up-time guarantees and a regular backup system in place as standard.

There are many other benefits to using an email solution designed for business, one of the most important is the level of control over the system, having full control can facilitate better SPAM prevention measures and better performance for internal emails.

When it comes to business email support is vital. Many business email solutions include 24/7 support, which can be invaluable if (or when) things go wrong.

Free email providers

There are numerous free email providers online and as you would expect some are better than others. Below are 3 popular free email providers along with more information on the services they offer.

Yahoo!® MAIL

Full email service.
Security by way of Password.
1TB of storage for your mail.
Instant message system with Yahoo Messenger.
Ability to search your emails.
Access to your emails worldwide.
View your emails on a mobile device
External Mail system to get access to any other email accounts you may have.
A SpamGuard system that redirects any spammail to a separate mail folder.
Automatic virus scan of outgoing and incoming attachments.
A File Viewer system which allows the user to take a look at any email attachment without downloading.
Many other services which are not appropriate for this section.
for further information or to sign up visit

Hotmail® (

Full email service.
Security by way of password.
Unlimited storage for your mail.
SPAM Protection
Instant message system with MSN Messenger.
Access to your emails worldwide.
View your emails on a mobile device
email to mobile phone service (optional).
Many other services which are not appropriate for this section.
for further information or to sign up visit

Gmail (GoogleMail)

Full email service.
Security by way of password.
15GB of storage for your mail.
SPAM Protection
Ability to search your emails using Google search technology.
Access to your emails worldwide.
View your emails on a mobile device
Many other services which are not appropriate for this section.
for further information or to sign up visit


In summary, your choice of email provider will be down to personal needs, but some of the following reasons may influence your decision:
  • ease of use.
  • email storage space.
  • attachment filesize limits.
  • compatibility with friends/relatives/colleagues email and instant messenger.

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