|Free e-mail and web hosting services||sork.com|
|Note (May 2003): This set of web pages has not been updated in quite a while, and much of the content is likely to be outdated. The pages remain posted here solely for archival purposes. (Exercise caution in clicking on links that appear on these pages. Some of the linked sites have changed ownership, and you could end up in a mousetrapping porn site if you are not careful.)|
I used to be quite optimistic about free e-mail services, but I now hesitate to recommend them for anything but temporary use -- for example, to use while you're traveling, or as a throwaway address to protect your real e-mail address from spammers. Free e-mail services have a number of disadvantages, including that they're often not very reliable (what do you expect for free?); they often put ads on your outgoing as well as incoming messages; many people will block your mail if you use a well-known free service like Hotmail; and you may not be able to change your address -- or may be forced to change it with little advance notice.
If having a "permanent" e-mail address is very important to you -- for example, if you plan to have your e-mail address printed on business cards, letterheads, brochures, etc. -- then don't rely on a free e-mail service, since many of the formerly "free" services have begun charging exorbitant fees or even shut down completely. Instead, consider registering your own domain name through a company like DotEasy or GANDI. (It's not as expensive as you may think; see web hosting services for details.)
If all you are looking for is a way to access your existing e-mail account via the web, then the best choice may be a standalone POP3 mail access service (see miscellaneous services).
Dial-up e-mail access: Juno (@juno.com) provides a free e-mail account with dial-up access. No Internet access is required, though you do need to install Juno's software (a free download).
Web-based access and automatic forwarding: These services give you a new e-mail address and permit you to access incoming messages via a web site, or to have them automatically forwarded to another e-mail address. ApexMail (@apexmail.com); OperaMail (@operamail.com); ROTFL (@rotfl.com). (There are many services that offer either automatic forwarding or web-based access for free, but not both; I haven't included those services here.)
POP3 accounts: These services will give you a free POP3 account: ACMEmail.net (@acmemail.net); HotPOP (@hotpop.com and others); OperaMail (@operamail.com); Portland Communications (mailbox only).
Additional resources: Free Email Address Directory; Free Email Providers Guide; Internet Email List.