Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.net.
I received a comment this week regarding my position on webmail, or more correctly, free email services. To summarize, I strongly recommend against using free email services as your only repository for anything you consider to be important.
To paraphrase the objection to fit here, spam filters appear to be better on the web services than those you might get with a more traditional email client.
And I won't argue the point. Some spam filters are much better than others. Gmail's appears to be particularly good these days. So good that I know of several folks who actually automatically forward their primary email address through a Gmail account, which then forwards to another POP account for download simply to take advantage of Gmail's spam filter.
But notice what they're not doing: they're not receiving email in Gmail, and they're not leaving it only in Gmail. And that is my objection, my concern, and the reason I take the position I do.
Free email accounts are wonderful if they're used properly. The problem is that a significant number of people don't use them properly. And if you don't believe me, all I can say is that it's been one of the most common themes I've seen in over 4 years of doing Ask Leo! - people suddenly lose access to, or the contents of, their free email account - and most of the time they're totally screwed. They have no recourse, no way to recover their account or data.
I see it almost every day.
That's why I caution against free email accounts.
And to be clear, I'm not saying don't use them. Use them properly. Don't use them as the only place you keep important emails, contact information, or as one person did, his university thesis.
Use a real POP3 email account. Use one of the approaches to accessing your free email account using a PC-based client so you can back your data up. Heck, use two free email accounts and auto-forward one to the other for safe-keeping. That last one won't backup your address book, drafts or sent mail, but I suppose it's better than nothing.
But I stand by my position: if you're using a free email account, any free email account, as the only place you're keeping important correspondence and other data, you're asking for trouble.
I hear from a lot of people that have learned this lesson the hard way.
I'd love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.net and enter 12180 in the go to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse the hundreds of technical questions and answers on the site.
Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.net.
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