Should I use free webmail services or am I better off with paid services?

Should I use free webmail services or am I better off with paid services?

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Free webmail services such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail are pretty much the norm in particular amongst home users but also businesses who either do not have a corporate email account or need something personal.

They are first of all free, easy to use, have almost no limitation for use and are always available online and come with a host of services and functions that you may find hard to find in other paid for services.

However there is always one big down side to them and when people ask me should they go paid or free, I always ask how important is their email to them and if the answer is Yes, then my answer is Paid services.

You will ask Why? First and foremost is service. When you used paid services you get a customer service that often also includes telephone support. It is even better when that service is from a Small to Medium sized company, because the service is even more personal and very likely that you may even have the direct number for one of the directors or employees.

So what good is that? Well all of us at some point or another find ourselves in situations where we forget passwords, or lose our laptops and need to login to accounts urgently to stop, check or access emails. In paid services having access to a support number is the key to getting this done in a timely manner and also without wasting hours, days and weeks.

Yahoo and hotmail, but most recently Yahoo accounts are the ones that have been hacked the most recently, where the user’s password is changed and the hacker takes over the account sending emails such as requests for money to various location. In a recent article in the Financial Times, while Jonathan Fenby was overseas in the US on business, someone else used his Hotmail account to send emails to all his contacts. They said Mr Fenby, co-founder of emerging markets research company Trusted Sources, was stranded in Malaysia, his wallet had been stolen and could they send £1,500?

Sounds familiar? It took Hotmail weeks to respond to his messages and restore access. He remembers being in a Chicago hotel room and being so frustrated that he wanted to throw his laptop against a wall.” as quoted in the FT article. However he is not the only case, my IT company on a routine basis receives calls from customers whose accounts have been hacked into and they cannot remember their security questions or they were not even the ones who setup the account in the first place, in order to remember what the questions were, let alone the answers.

The tedious task of unblocking such accounts and also the time factor, excluding the costs is the one simple reason, I suggest to clients to always have a paid account with a small service provider. For a simple of 50 to in cases 70 euro per year, you can get accounts from many IT companies who will be happy to help you any time day and night and what’s more your email is less likely to be hacked.

Identity theft is on the rise and your USB sticks, phones or PDA contain more than you account for. All it takes is for someone to get hold of your phone and they can probably get into your facebook, linkedin and all sorts of email accounts.

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