Why Your Primary Business Email Account Should be Gmail
The world of email has changed dramatically in the last few years. Gmail has left Earthlink-like email services so far behind that I don’t understand how or why people continue to use them, unless it’s just that they don’t understand the benefits and anticipate a painful experience in making the change. While it takes a little bit of time (10 minutes, maybe) to make the change, the benefits are huge.
I’m going to focus on brief comparisons between Earthlink email services and Gmail, because I have personal experience with both. To be fair, Yahoo has Ymail, very much a "me-too" service similar to Gmail, but I know less about that. If you have a warm spot for Yahoo, you might want to look at Ymail instead. One comparison I can’t make is in reliability; I just don’t have the information necessary to make that comparison. However, I can tell you that Google is extremely reliable, and that I can recall only one hour-long episode of slowness in more than two years. I don’t recall any serious reliability problems with Earthlink, either.
Also, let’s distinguish between Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and email providers. Earthlink (and many companies like them) provides both ISP and email services. Gmail is strictly email service. If you use Gmail, you will still need an ISP such as Earthlink, Comcast, etc., to allow you to connect to the Internet. However, having a particular ISP is no reason to use their email service.
Gmail is free. $0. No money down, no money monthly, no money, period. Earthlink’s email service is part of their ISP service, so you don’t actually save money by not using their email service, assuming you use them as your ISP. Essentially, cost is the same for email service in both cases.
Edge: It’s a draw
Gmail currently allows more than 7.3GB (that’s 7,300MB) of storage. After more than 2 years using Gmail, I’ve used less than 25% of that space. Earthlink has dramatically increased its storage since I last saw it a couple of years ago: to 100MB. For additional cost (I cannot find the amount; Earthlink’s website has a lot of asterisks and small, light-colored text), you can increase the amount to 300MB.
Edge: Gmail by more than 70x
Ease of Using Company Domain Email Addresses
The email address I give out to people is an evowebdev.com address. I simply forward that email address to my Gmail account. More importantly, Gmail allows me to respond to people using the evowebdev.com address, even though it is actually being sent from Gmail (there is a confirmation email sent when setting that up to prove you own the non-Gmail address). I have 3 active domain-based email addresses that I forward to Gmail, and I get them all in one place. You can forward your domain-based email to your Earthlink account, but good luck responding from Earthlink with anything but your earthlink.net address.
When I switched to using Gmail, part of my motivation was to curb the amount of spam I had to deal with each day. Before using Gmail, 70-100 spam emails per day was the norm. With Gmail, I might see 1-2 per day. Earthlink offers spam protection, but you have to configure it, monitor it, and check to make sure you aren’t dumping email that isn’t spam into the spam bucket. And after all that, unless you choose Earthlink’s "nuclear" option and consider everything spam until you approve it (does that sound like a royal pain, or what?) you will still get more spam than you would with Gmail.
Edge: Gmail, easily
Gmail, from Google. Do I really need to say more? Gmail simply has the most sophisticated email search on the planet from the people who redefined search. And, with several years worth of emails to search through, it’s a good thing. I truly don’t know what Earthlink’s current search capabilities are, but there is no way they could match Google.
Edge: Gmail, big-time
The comparisons stop there. But there are other reasons to have a Gmail account, like having access to dozens of Google business applications that enhance your ability to collaborate (Google docs, Google calendar) and analyze traffic and promote your website (Google Analytics, Adsense, Adwords). Of course you can use these services without using Gmail, but that would be kind of like having a piece of pie, but refusing the ice cream that goes on top. And replacing the ice cream with tofu. Yuck.