When it comes to choosing an email account, there are lots of options. Most internet service providers (ISPs) offer email addresses with a broadband account and some offer more than one email address so that members of the family can set up separate email accounts through the main internet account.
However, quite a few people like internet- or web-based email accounts called ‘webmail’ because of their flexibility. They allow you to view and send email on a dedicated website that can be accessed from anywhere rather than just from your home computer.
Things to consider when choosing a webmail account
- How you’ll access your webmail account. Would you prefer to use a program on your computer to access emails – e.g. through a program such as Microsoft Windows Live Mail? Or would you just access your emails via the internet?
- Features that you may need – for example, unlimited storage space if you send and receive large files, free sign-up. Extra features like these may incur a charge.
- Security. Does the account offer good security and virus protection compared with others? How does it deal with spam? What are its privacy policies?
- Reviews. How does the account compare with other webmail accounts and how do people rate it? Ask around or look at review websites to give some idea of people’s experience with the provider – are they happy using it or have they had problems?
- Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Outlook.com are the most popular webmail accounts currently. They all offer similar features such as: the ability to create folders within your inbox to sort your emails; spam filters: instant messaging and chat: and the ability to access emails via internet-enabled mobile phones.
- The internet has a lot of information about different webmail providers. Research these to get an idea of what services they offer.
- Once you have decided on your provider, you need to sign up and set up an account. You’ll have to think up a unique email address and username. Be prepared to rethink either of these as someone may already have bagged your first choices.
- You’ll need to give a password for security and logging into your account. You may also be required to give an alternative email address in case of technical difficulties or lost passwords. In addition, with some accounts you may have to provide some personal information so that you can be identified as the right user.
Once sign-up is complete, you’ll be able to log into your account with your new username/email address and password and start emailing.
Karen Maxwell is a Digital Unite tutor and assessor/trainer of computer accessibility.