Almost all of us use email every day, whether it is for keeping in touch with friends and family, or for work. It's the same here in New Zealand as it is elsewhere around the world.
But with the dizzying array of different email providers available, how do we decide which to go with?
What are the important things we need to consider before signing up for our email address of choice?
Free or paid? Business or personal? Hosted in NZ, or in the Cloud?
Let's dive in...
Free email providers
Ok so first things first - there are loads of free email providers available to us in NZ, including some which are based in New Zealand and others (the majority in fact) that are based overseas, mostly in the US.
Internet Provider email addresses
Some internet providers in NZ offer free email addresses, e.g. yourname@SomeInternetProvider.co.nz - however most are closing down these services as we've seen from various news headlines over recent years.
And this is actually not a bad thing in my opinion.
Using a free email address from your internet provider does somewhat tie you to that provider - something you might not think of at the time you're signing up.
If you've been using your free email address for several years, perhaps even on your business cards for your plumbing business for example, it becomes a huge hassle to try and change that address to something else if you were considering moving to a different internet provider for a better deal or faster speeds.
Suddenly you're faced with trying to contact everyone you've ever emailed to tell them that your email address is changing, and contacting all the companies you've signed up with to update your email in their system.
If you don't do this, who knows what important emails relating to family, business, finances etc you might end up never seeing.
And even if you do inform everyone, some people will continue trying to contact you via your old email address as they didn't see your email, or forgot about the change.
Some of these providers will actually allow you to continue using your email address with them, but will start charging you for it going forward - understandable, as the free address was just a perk of using their internet services which you're no longer paying for.
Imagine instead, if you are using another free email provider that is independent of your internet provider, this means that you are free to switch providers down the line if you want to, and continue using your existing address.
The most popular free email providers
Gmail is by far the most popular free email out there today, it works well like most Google products - and has lots of useful features.
Yahoo still exists, but personally I would not recommend them over Gmail if you're looking for a totally free webmail to use (you can of course use all of these services in a mail application you install on your computer or smartphone too - but the majority of people just use their web browser to access these types of email addresses).
While you might be wondering where Hotmail is on this list, Microsoft now only offers a free personal email via Outlook - though they do NOT allow this to be used for business purposes. (For business email + all their other business apps like Teams and Sharepoint etc, you should check out Microsoft 365 for business, which is just awesome for small businesses and beyond).
For the Apple fan boys and girls there is always the free Apple icloud mail option which is another popular choice.
Professional / business email providers
Setting up your own email address such as email@example.com might seem complicated or expensive to setup, but it's really not any more.
It is as simple as choosing your own domain name, which is only $25.50/year to hold on to - and selecting the email hosting add on during checkout, which will set you back $33/year. This will result in your own completely custom email address, with your mailbox hosted in New Zealand, and accessible via webmail or your chosen mail application via POP3 or IMAP.
Or if you'd like a whole suite of great Microsoft apps to use in addition to your custom email address, just register your domain and then get Microsoft 365. It's super affordable, but very powerful - whether you're just a power user, a small business - or scaling your business to the next level, and giving you all your apps in the Cloud to access from anywhere.
(And it's also great that you're not forced to signup for a bunch of applications you're never going to use - just select the appropriate tier that suits your requirements.)