If you’re like me, you’re really beginning to get fed up with Gmail. What was once the go-to email provider in the world, millions have been leaving as Google began violating users’ privacy, instituting draconian policies, removing all customer service support whatsoever, and altering the user interface in ways that millions of users protested.
There have also been many other issues and reasons to leave gmail, including a hardly-usable mobile interface, continuously locking you out of your own account due to false alarms like trying to log in from a coffee shop or a friend’s house (since they immorally have been tracking your logins through IP geolocation and other unwanted tracking mechanisms), and worse, not letting you restore your own account despite knowing all your own information and even inputting a valid verification code.
I just got locked out of two of my primary gmail accounts today, and I did not log in through a new location. This is the second time in a matter of months that I have been locked out of both of these accounts – the other time I was locked out of them for a full month when I tried to access my accounts when I was traveling, because even though I received the verification email and input the correct verification code, it failed saying, “Unfortunately, based on the information you provided, we were unable to verify that you own the account.”
Oh yeah? So your own verification code wasn’t right, Google? Then why did you even bother to send it to me? Obviously, the verification code system with Google is simply broken, because the same thing happened with both accounts today, it sent me the verification code, I received it, I input it, and then it gave me the same error.
I am really fed up with gmail, and over the last couple years I have done a lot of research on gmail alternatives. The only reason I haven’t switched is because it is going to be a massive hassle – I manage many email accounts and it is a complicated setup that will take days to configure across all my accounts.
Additionally, I haven’t found a good free email provider that has some of the required features I want. This includes: dark theme (mandatory for me), delayed message sending (gets a whole lot of use from me – it is a gmail “labs” feature), pop3/imap support (yahoo does not have this in the free version), and html signatures that I can save different signatures for different “send from” emails.
Nonetheless, gmail won’t be able to hold me for much longer, and sooner or later I’m going to get so fed up I would rather compromise some of those features than have to use gmail anymore. So here is my top 4 list that is the result of many months of research and trial and error. I started out as a top ten list, but decided to make it a top 4 list because there are very few really good email providers out there worth using. However, I listed the other ones and some other alternatives after the list.
It has withstood years of testing and still gets good reviews. It is worth checking out to see if you like it. It is not as privacy-focused as the others; however, I do think it’s secure, and certainly a more secure option than gmail.
Visit them: zoho.com/mail
They started to gain recognition when Protonmail was still limiting accounts and people were looking for a good privacy browser. You can think of Tutanota as kind of a barebones privacy email. Worth checking out.
Wander over: tutanota.com
If Yandex continues to improve their mail service, they can become a serious contendor as a gmail alternative. Additionally, they now have a Yandex.com domain (as to the formerly Yandex.ru), which really opens them up to the world, since not too many people can read Cyrillic (Russian letters are called Cyrillic). Better yet, they have a dark theme! The feature set is limited, but they do offer 10GB of storage. I hope they continue expanding their features!
Take a look: mail.yandex.com
I was in at the beginning, and have used it on and off ever since. It is certainly reliable and stable, the only trouble was that because it was so popular, and totally free, they had limited signups. Now, however, you should be able to sign up for a Protonmail account, as they have now fully opened it up to the public.
Some of their great features include a double password system for security – a login password and mailbox password, end-to-end email encryption, and a free mobile app. Some downsides are that the free version of Protonmail has limited storage (500MB) and limited number of emails you can send per day (150). However, even as a second provider, Protonmail is worth using for more important emails.
Check them out: protonmail.com
Now, keep in mind that unfortunately, none of these solutions are as powerful feature-wise as gmail. Gmail simply wins hands-down when it comes to features, especially with Gmail Labs with features like delayed sending (including an “undo” sent mail up to a minute later), Canned Responses, and the Unread Messages browser tab icon.
However, are all these cool gmail features really worth sacrificing your privacy, or having to deal with all the problems like getting locked out of your account every time you travel and total lack of customer service? For me, anyway, I’m beginning to get so fed up that I’m about willing to forego that, because it may in fact be less hassle to have to double-check my emails before I send rather than be able to read it afterward and undo if there was a typo; or have to copy and past a canned response from a text file rather than have a dropdown menu to do it. It might actually be less hassle to do that than to have to deal with gmail problems.
Better yet, some of these email providers in the list have revolutionized email privacy, especially Protonmail, which is why I put it at number one on the list. If you are really concerned about email privacy, you absolutely should not be using gmail! Instead, choose an email provider which emphasizes privacy. Email can never be 100% private (for reasons too long and complicated to fit in this post, but try this article), but at least it can be way more secure than gmail.
Then again, I have many accounts and a very complicated setup. If you only have one gmail account and that’s all you use, then there is no reason for you not to switch today. After all, you can forward gmail to your new email address, so you always get any old emails from anyone who you forgot to send your new email address.
Some of the other free alternatives include AOL mail (many issues with receiving mail), Yahoo mail (no IMAP or POP3), Outlook (major privacy concerns), Mail.com (a “1&1 Company”, and 1&1 is a terrible web host), or paid email providers such as FastMail.
The only problem with a self-hosted solution is that not only is it notoriously difficult to manage for non-tech people, but also the interfaces of Roundcube and Squirrelmail lag far behind modern webmail clients. At least Roundcube has a decent web interface design. Squirrelmail’s interface looks like it is from 1990. This is a limitation with cPanel, and the absolute only reason I personally don’t use cPanel as a webmail solution.
There are also other self-hosted email software out there that you can actually install on your server; however, I highly recommend against this because it is really too difficult to do without constantly worrying about hackers using your server to send spam. It is more trouble than it’s worth, trust me.
Also, any of these self-hosted 3rd-party mail software worth using costs money – a lot of it. You might as well take that same money to pay for something like StartMail; at least then you would not have to deal with the splitting headache of managing a self-hosted email server and the constant privacy worries and hacker concerns. Instead, I strongly recommend only to use one of the three email software that ships with cPanel, if you do go the self-hosted route.
The third webmail that I didn’t mention that ships with cPanel is Horde; however, I didn’t mention it because I don’t recommend it; in fact, if you are a webmail administrator then I recommend to actually disable Horde in WHM to deter spammers. This might change in the future though because the last I checked, Horde has been redoing their software and this might improve in the future. Let’s give it some time though.
If cPanel ever does bring in a truly modern webmail client; or if one of the three it ships with decides to revolutionize their UI and cPanel supports the upgrade, then it will revolutionize the world of email, because it will allow anyone with a web hosting account and a domain name to have maximum email privacy by self-hosting their email. I am looking forward to that day!