New stuff on the Net for nix

Pros: Your e-mail is available at any Web-enabled PC worldwide, without configuration hassles.

Cons: Handling of online mail is slower and less reliable than that provided by standard POP3 accounts; security remains a concern.

Best use: A good supplement to business or personal e-mail accounts, especially for frequent travellers.

These Web-based e-mail services provide a permanent e-mail address to call your own, paid for by banner advertising that appears on each screen you view. Your mail is accessible from any Web-ready computer and you can even use your Web e-mail account to check messages from another account - except those protected by a firewall.

Then again, Web-based e-mail takes longer to collect and read than paid POP3 mail (because free e-mail providers usually use slower servers); ads litter your screen; and every message you send bears an intrusive tagline touting the service. Even worse, using Web-based e-mail can expose you to security risks (see "Add a Security Blanket to Free E-Mail" on page 94). If you seek a business account, stick with the POP3 e-mail hosted by your ISP.

On the other hand, if you just want an e-mail account for personal messages, you're in luck. Almost everyone with a domain provides free e-mail these days - it's a good way for companies to promote a Web site, generate repeat visits and boost advertising revenue. So whose name should follow the @ sign in your Web-based e-mail address? Choose wisely and you may never have to change your e-mail address again.

Our favourite free e-mail services are veterans Yahoo Mail and Hotmail. In addition to providing the usual features, both let you save your user name on your PC (Hotmail will also save your password) so you can log in instantly (this shortcut is not recommended for shared or portable PCs because of security concerns). They also provide strong filtering tools for incoming messages, including a filter that bounces e-mail from known spam merchants. And both sites' interfaces are well laid out and easy to use. Better yet, you can download e-mail for offline reading: you can collect mail from Yahoo with any POP3 e-mail software, including the popular programs Eudora, Netscape Messenger and Outlook, while Hotmail integrates with Outlook Express 5.0.

In contact management, Yahoo has a slight edge over Hotmail - it can import address book info from Outlook, Organizer and Palms, as well as from other sources that can export their data in comma-separated value format. Yahoo Mail can also notify you of incoming messages via a signal to Yahoo Messenger, an instant-messaging app that you install on your PC. But Hotmail shines in two other areas: it can scan incoming mail attachments for viruses before you download them, and it offers a dictionary and thesaurus, in addition to the standard spelling checker.

Each of the other contenders has its own strengths. One standout is Malcolm, which provides free e-mail service for a gaggle of other portal sites, including and The service's best feature is its large selection of domain names. Instead of tethering you to, it lets you opt for such alternatives as,, or

Another plus is's 5MB mailboxes - 2MB bigger than those most free e-mail services offer. will also forward your messages to another e-mail address for free (as will Yahoo Mail). Even with such solid features, however, could not overcome its two chief impediments: distracting advertisements and a so-so address book that lacks a nickname field and won't let you import multiple addresses at once.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?