Looking for a simple email provider
May 8, 2011 4:05 AM   Subscribe

I currently use gmail as my main address and have played with hotmail and yahoo in the past. The one thing I don't like about any of them is that they automatically create a profile for the user and then try to link them to (what seems like) everything! Google for example automatically pulls your data from their various services and puts it into a "social circle" where it links you with people from your contacts list. I don't want that. I'm looking for a simple webmail service that I can use for email and contacts only. Not interested in linking facebook, photos, chat, or any other social networking type features. I've been trying GMX.com and they seem decent enough. Anyone have any other suggestions for a no frills email provider?
posted by Yunani to Computers & Internet (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
FastMail is astonishingly reliable and no-frills. Their support is outstanding and the webmail client has features that will make you drool.
posted by knz at 4:13 AM on May 8, 2011

Response by poster: knz, great suggestion. My best friend uses fastmail. Two reasons I avoided in the past:
1) The free account is very restrictive on inbox size, so I would have to pay for an account. I'm not against that, but in today's Internet, it seems like paying for webmail is just....wrong. But, I'd be willing for a good service but have a concern, which leads me to,

2) I recall fastmail was bought by Opera Software last year. I avoided them last year because it seemed like their future was uncertain. I'll go do some research now and see how the acquisition with Opera is going.
posted by Yunani at 4:18 AM on May 8, 2011

I'm using Google Apps as I have my own domain and I've not seen any of the "social circle" functionality you're taking about.

Maybe that is another option?
posted by mr_silver at 4:20 AM on May 8, 2011

Response by poster: mr_silver, another great suggestion I have been looking into.
So, I have a domain name (my full name) I want to buy but do not want to host a website there (yet)..only use it for email. Do you know the best way to do that (i.e. who to buy it from, with the email service)? And then host it on google apps.
posted by Yunani at 4:27 AM on May 8, 2011

Many web hosting providers, such as Dreamhost—which many of my friends and colleagues seem to like—offer webmail attached to your domain name as part of their hosting services. Often, the interface and anti-spam capabilities are decent, but not great. The same can be said of using your ISP's email service. Still, if you want webmail that's all yours and isn't linked to other services and targeted advertising, one of these might be the way to go.
posted by maxim0512 at 4:38 AM on May 8, 2011

Best answer: FYI: so far I could see the FastMail operations have been largely unchanged by the acquisition. They have not downsized nor changed anything about their infrastructure. I do see however the strategic benefit to Opera who can now back their mail offering with a strong infrastructure.

As to price vs service: you get what you pay for. If you don't pay and you get good service, this means you are the product. This is obvious with GMail and Hotmail. With Fastmail you are the customer, not the product.

In the end you get to choose with your money where the control lies.
posted by knz at 4:40 AM on May 8, 2011

Ultimate form of control, of course, is to host your own e-mail. But this costs an insane amount of time and/or money. :)
posted by knz at 4:41 AM on May 8, 2011

Seconding Fastmail. On the low-level paid account you can set up a filter to bounce large attachments to a (non publicized) gmail account to avoid filling your quota.
posted by m1ndsurfer at 4:56 AM on May 8, 2011

Response by poster: Have any of you went from gmail, with threaded conversations, over to Fastmail, with traditional style? What are your thoughts about being used to threaded and then going back to the old school email style?
posted by Yunani at 5:00 AM on May 8, 2011

Like Mr Silver, I have Google apps with my own domain (and I also have fastmail and ordinary gmail). Once you have your own domain, setting up google apps-based gmail on your own domain is relatively easy and free (see https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/domain/new). However, I mainly use ordinary gmail, primarily because I have had it longest and my correspondents know me there. I have never been bothered by Google's efforts to link me to stuff, just declining all offers but then I use it through Mailplane (a Mac-based application).
posted by TheRaven at 5:21 AM on May 8, 2011

I have a couple of domain names that I use for email via google aps but don't bother with websites. I used nearlyfreespeech.net for the hosting, it costs me almost nothing per year because I'm not using bandwidth etc. Then I use them to handle the nameserver stuff (which I think I do pay for but it's very little money and which many hosts don't do) and point the email part to google aps. It was really easy to set up.

I also have a gmail account and the webmail works exactly the same for everything, but I haven't had any of the profile problem stuff that you have (on any of them). You can turn the google profile off pretty easily, that might be the fastest fix for you? Look at the buzz tab in the settings, I think you do it from there.
posted by shelleycat at 5:26 AM on May 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone the replies.
Just a note about the social circle stuff that google auto-adds you in.
If you go to www.google.com and in the top right corner click on account settings. From the account page, click "view data stored with this account", enter your password, then scroll down to "social circle and content" and you'll see that google has automatically linked you with people in your contact list, and even with the contacts of your contacts. I like to keep all my contacts in one place, and that includes work people, and so I was surprised when I saw that I was linked with my coworkers and they could see all my personal information (e.g. the name of my blog if I owned one, etc). So, it goes beyond buzz or having a google profile...just having a google account is enough for them to mine your data, consolidate and share. I know that's the price you pay for a free service..hence the reason I'm moving on. Thanks again for the suggestions.
posted by Yunani at 5:42 AM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't know what I'm doing differently but I don't see any social anything with any of my account, gmail or google aps run. Some of them have been migrated to the new thing and some haven't, and none have me linked to anyone or have anything weird showing up. I have deleted the google profile for every account back when buzz first appeared because I was told that's where things were linked from, so maybe try doing that first and see if it's the difference between what I see and what you see?
posted by shelleycat at 5:46 AM on May 8, 2011

Response by poster: shelleycat, i don't have a google profile...never created one. I have buzz disabled too.
posted by Yunani at 5:48 AM on May 8, 2011

Something you don't seem to be understanding here is that you are paying for Gmail, with your privacy. In exchange for giving you free email, Google gets to use what it knows about you to try to be a more effective advertising platform. If you don't want to pay Google with privacy, you can pay Fastmail or some other provider in cash. Either way, you aren't getting something for free.
posted by COD at 5:51 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Huh, weird. I can see why you're uncomfortable using them anyway, since the whole connecting you to people thing seems pretty random. It looks like Fastmail is your best option.
posted by shelleycat at 5:52 AM on May 8, 2011

About your question regarding threading. Remember, threading is not mutually exclusive with dumb webmail clients! Actually threading predates webmail, it originated conceptually with Usenet.

I personally use external e-mail clients: Thunderbird and Apple's Mail.app on different computers. On each of them I configure to leave the mail on the remote (Fastmail's) server, including sent mail drafts and attachments. This way I have the same view of my e-mail across all clients.

Also, there is a crude form of threading in Fastmail's webmail client (filtering by conversation).
posted by knz at 5:55 AM on May 8, 2011

Response by poster: COD, of course I understand that I am paying Google with my privacy. If you actually read through all the comments you would have seen my remark: "I know that's the price you pay for a free service...hence the reason I'm moving on."
posted by Yunani at 6:07 AM on May 8, 2011

I use gmail with my own domain, and like shelleycat said, I don't see any of the problems you described.

Yes, privacy may be an issue with google. But

1. Their spam filter is unbeatable, something where Yahoo does not seem to have invested a dime in the last 10 years

2. They don't look you in since they have free IMAP

3. If you are concerned about privacy, use gpg. Privacy and unencrypted email is a contradiction. With the Firefox firegpg plug in it is very convenient.

GMX is a German provider. They are OK but I use them only as a secondary account.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 6:21 AM on May 8, 2011

mail.com has a new owner and seems to do what you want.
posted by JayRwv at 6:22 AM on May 8, 2011

PS: Hurry with gmail and your own domain. They will give you free 50 email accounts. This will be boiled down to 10 in a few days. The 50 account limit still applies for "old" domains.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 6:23 AM on May 8, 2011

You might find this round-up of free email providers interesting.

If, like me, you're tired of seeing the subjects of your surfing turn up as ads and spam in your inbox, you may be interested in TACO, a Firefox add-on that blocks "Targeted Advertising Cookies." Or you can use the opt-out service offered by aboutads.info.
posted by Paris Elk at 10:02 AM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you go to www.google.com and in the top right corner click on account settings. From the account page, click "view data stored with this account", enter your password, then scroll down to "social circle and content" and you'll see that google has automatically linked you with people in your contact list, and even with the contacts of your contacts.

Wow, thank you for pointing out this.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:09 PM on May 8, 2011

Regarding the Google apps reduction from 50 free email accounts to only 10, you don't have to have a domain ready (or even bought for that matter) to register.

As such, I'd do that right now and then you can always decide later on whether or not to use that service. If you don't, well, you haven't lost anything.
posted by mr_silver at 7:01 AM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: mr silver, i looked at google apps and do not see how to register without a domain. I selected the free version and the next page is to enter my domain or buy one. Can't proceed without filling that option.
posted by Yunani at 3:13 AM on May 10, 2011

Apologies, it was a couple of years ago when I registered mine. Looks like things have changed.
posted by mr_silver at 7:39 AM on May 10, 2011

Response by poster: Hot off the press -- exactly what i was talking about above!
posted by Yunani at 6:49 PM on May 11, 2011

Hah, I was just coming here to post exactly the same as you Yunani!

The URL you want to turn off this "feature" seems to be https://profiles.google.com/connectedaccounts.
posted by mr_silver at 3:41 AM on May 12, 2011

« Older Yes, I'm serious about this.   |   Stop Tracking Me! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.