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Email Options

Article for: Anyone who does email
Difficulty: Moderate
Importance: Preserve privacy

We can divide email providers, like AOL, Yahoo or Google into three categories, depending on their business model. All businesses must make money if they are going to continue to exist. Operating without revenue is a bit like trying to live without eating. Eventually you'll die. Some Open Source projects can exist on donated time, but the bigger ones have corporate sponsors.
  1. They collect all the information they can about you and sell it to marketers or use it to market themselves. These "free" services can also make money from advertising and selling links to news and other stories besides selling your personal information.
  2. They provide some other service and "throw in" email because without it they cannot compete. For example, my website is hosted by InMotionHosting and they provide me with email for steveshank.com as part of the hosting fee. Apple Mail is in this category. Apple sells a product (iPhones, Mac computers, watches and tablets), and throws in the mail service. They also differentiate themselves from Google by respecting privacy.
  3. They sell their email the email service and provide you with privacy (they don't sell your data) and security. Sometimes these services offer a stripped down account for free. If they stripped it enough, it won't lose them much business and it will work as advertising as you see their name in people's email addresses.
I assume that those who sell your information, also gather and sell the information of all your contacts. Google's CEO has said he won't sell your information, but he provides advertisers with the information and gets paid for it. However, he claims it is the website or Android app that actually makes the sale.

Better options

Privacy respecting services are a better option. Here are three excellent services that, for a minimal fee, provide you with excellent services and do not track you, log you, sell your information or show advertising. My current recommendation is Runbox.

How much storage do you need?

Check how much storage you use. I do a lot of email and save everything except junk and newsletters. I email some pictures, but not many. The result is about ½ of a Gigabyte per year. So, 2 GB of storage will hold about 4 years of my emails. Clearly, if you don't require the provider to save all your emails, you'll require less space.

Custom Domains
What are custom domains or Email hosting? If you own your own domain, like steveshank.com, then email hosting or custom domains means you can set up your account using that domain instead of their domain. So, for instance, instead of yourname@Runbox.com, you could have yourname@yourdomain.com.

Custom domains have the advantage of being yours. You'll always be able to keep that address, even if you change email providers. It has the disadvantage of requiring you to pay for the domain name. Domain names cost about $10-$20 a year. You should not fall for any 1 year come on.
They will renew at the normal price.

In addition, many people buy privacy. Domain registrars are required to provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the owners. Registrars will use their contact information instead of yours if you purchase privacy for an additional $10-$15 / year.

You can use Runbox as your registrar and keep everything in one place. You can also use any registrar for your domain registration and still use them.

Moving your email address!
This seems daunting, but is less so than you might imagine. If you are using Gmail, for example, you keep your Gmail account and also setup the new account with someone who respects your privacy. Then import your emails and contacts from Gmail. Gmail makes it very easy to forward your Gmail emails to any account you like, so do that. In a year, if you are careful to remind people of your new address, you'll be Gmail free!

Security is separate from privacy. Security has 3 sections:
  1. Security in transit. (it is hard to avoid this). Nearly every email service provides security while the emails are in transit.
  2. Security while the emails reside on the hosts’ servers. Many complications occur if the emails are encrypted on the host’s servers. This is a specialty area and I'll discuss it in an article next month.
  3. Security after the email is sent to the recipient. Again, this is something outside the domain of any but real specialty services to be discussed next month.
Unless you are a Doctor, lawyer or accountant, who might really want to maintain secure email and privacy, I recommend sticking with one of these three services that provide privacy, but not necessarily more security than Gmail or other normal services.

My recommendation

Runbox strikes a nice middle ground price wise.
For $19.95 / year you get 2 GB email storage and 100 email aliases and one custom domain.
For $34.95 / year you get 10 GB of email storage, 5 email domains, and 100 email aliases.

Additional Runbox Information

Upgrades and additional storage is available at reasonable prices. All accounts will use either webmail or your local client.

Runbox offers import functions from some services like Gmail or Outlook.

Two more good options

Fastmail provides an excellent service for a reasonable price. They offer a 30-day free trial. They have a step-by-step guide for migrating from Gmail and other services. Fastmail is the best known and most expensive recommendation.

For $30/yr. You'll get 2 GB of storage, contact lists, aliases, support, Full-featured calendars, mobile apps and import tools. This plan does not offer local applications or your own domain.

For $50/year you also can use your own domain rather than their domain. So, if I didn't have my website, I could use my steveshank.com domain for email on their servers. It also adds the ability to use any desktop or mobile app to access their email servers. They give each app its own password.

For $90/year you get 100 GB of storage plus retention, which offers tamper proof copies of the emails for any account.

Mailbox provides the least expensive option.
For 1 Euro per month ($1.19 or 14.28/year) you get 2 GB of mail storage, 100 MB of cloud file storage, 3 email aliases, mobile sync and email and forum support. Includes step-by-step guide for leaving Gmail.

For 2.5 Euros per month, you get 5 GB email storage and 25 email aliases.

All accounts will work with your email client or by webmail.

Date: May 2021

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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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