There may not be any solid statistics claiming that Gmail is an indomitable webmail at an international level. Nonetheless, the popularity of Gmail is blindingly obvious with more than 900 million active users worldwide as of May 2015. Thinking of free email services, some names pop up in our minds such as AOL Mail, Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) and Yahoo! Mail. Among these, Gmail and Hotmail are the top two search terms of interest in 2015 and others are way below these two web-based email services. But in this trend report Gmail comes second to Microsoft’s Hotmail and this drives home a valuable message. Gmail is not an unparalleled webmail service without rivals.
The Google Moment
Can one say that Gmail has had its moment? Perhaps not, with sync across devices, customizable inbox, 15 GB of free storage and add-ons like Hangouts for real-time interactions, Gmail has become a byword for user-friendly webmail experience. All of us frequently encounter situations where people use Gmail synonymously with email. Gmail also has an active help center for FAQs and suggestions along with an active blog keeping its users up-to-date with advancements in the free email service by Google.
Why think of alternatives?
You might be wondering if Gmail is so good and getting better everyday then why think of other options. Gmail is easy to install on your mobile phone, has a remarkable spam filter and a very stable connection. If all these statements are true wouldn’t searching for an alternative look like a futile endeavor? No, and here’s why. Gmail has some notable drawbacks such as targeted ads. It also does not support free custom domain. If you have to use your own domain, you’ll have to pay $5 per user per month. Outlook.com serves as a good alternative with no ads and large storage capacity but at present it cancelled the custom domain service. Low pricing and custom domain are only rarely coupled. Zoho Mail is such an alternative. It has a minimalist interface free of ads and supports up to 25 free mailboxes. Rackspace is a paid alternative but it costs only $2 a user per month and gives you 25 GB of storage space.
The Open Source Alternatives
Open source would mean you are in control. No need to worry about invasion on your privacy or lack of freedom. There are many free open source webmail clients up for grabs and your only worry would be which in particular you should choose. Let’s take a peek at the open source alternatives that give you more freedom and sometimes a chance to manage your email with a completely different approach.
Roundcube is a browser-based IMAP client that provides a desktop-like functional and customizable user interface with skins that use the latest web standards. Roudcube is like any modern email client and provides MIME support, address book, folder manipulation, message searching and spell checking. It includes sophisticated open-source libraries like PEAR, Googiespell library for spell checking or the WasHTML sanitizer. What is noteworthy is its multilingual capability. Roundcube is available in more than 70 languages.
Released features of Roundcube include sophisticated privacy protection, multiple sender identities, canned response templates and plug-in API for flexible extensions.
Zimbra is an AJAX client that takes a different approach on communication and managing email. It is designed mainly for companies and gives admins the power of hot backups which can allow an immediate recovery of a single mailbox. It provides a complete set of collaboration tools to boost your company’s productivity and take control of security and privacy functionalities. It can be deployed on premises or through their service providers. A free trial of the collaboration tool is also available on their website.
Rainloop Webmail is an email solution that requires no database and can be easily installed and upgraded. The systems requirements aren’t too high and the performance is decent. It supports IMAP and SMTP protocols including SSL and STARTTLS. Other features include modern UI, administrative panel, integration with social media like Facebook and Twitter and cloud storage service like Dropbox.
Never Ending Fancy Names
The fancy names of free open source alternatives don’t end here: Atmail, Hastymail, Hivemail, FastMail, Xuheki Webmail, AfterLogic, Emailn and list goes on. If you know something about open source webmail clients leave a comment below.
If you would like to know more about it, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org