Is it time to ditch free email?
March 5, 2022
Billions of people have email addresses ending in Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL or one of the many others. These email addresses are easy to get and easy to remember. Moreover, those email providers do a reasonably respectable job securing your email, offering industry-standard security like two-factor authentication and encrypting the connection between your computer and their server. So, why would you want to switch to something else?
You know those big multinational corporations don't give away anything for free. So, how can they offer these free email addresses while also providing lots of services like lots of free email storage space, calendar integration, sentence completion as you type, in-app map lookups and a bunch more?
Google, Microsoft, Apollo Global Management (they own Yahoo and AOL) make money from the things you do with your email address. They (especially Google) use AI to "read" your email so they can find appointments in your email and add them to your calendar automatically. AI can also figure out the words you use the most and offer them as suggestions when you're writing an email, and build a profile of you and your activities when you're using your email. Of course, they then use that profile to target you with ads when you're not in your email.
So, what's the alternative?
There are secure email services that protect your privacy by encrypting your connection to the server and your email itself. The catch is, they aren't free. How could they be?
ProtonMail in Switzerland is probably the best-known secure email service. ProtonMail goes beyond offering two-factor authentication and secure server connections by not logging any identifying information about your email session. ProtonMail also stores your emails on their servers in a completely encrypted format; if there is ever a data breach on the ProtonMail servers, no one other than you can read your emails.
ProtonMail offers the option of sending Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encrypted emails between users or even password-protected automatically self-destructing emails to any email address.
ProtonMail doesn't require any information about you when you open an account, just the email address you want to use (which ends in ProtonMail.com) and a password. ProtonMail also doesn't store your IP address or track you as you do stuff on the web.
ProtonMail offers a free account limited to 500 MB of mail storage and 150 messages a day. Gmail accounts get 15GB of storage for free, but you have to let Google's AI "read" your email and let Google build a profile on you to sell ads targeted to you. A premium ProtonMail account costs $4/month and gives you 5GB of email storage, labels, filters and the ability to use your domain instead of the default ProtonMail.com address.
Gmail comes with many features for free, but you have to hand over a lot of personal information to Google to get those features.
ProtonMail is an excellent alternative if you want your email provider to protect your data instead of using your data to target ads to you.
Email sign-offs and what they mean
"Thanks!" you want to be loved.
"Thanks," you're not mad. You're just disappointed.
"Best," you are classy and professional and probably hot.
"Cheers!" you're either cool or British.
"Regards," you hate me.
"Sincerely," you're an intern.
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at email@example.com.