email addresses are going away — here are 4 alternatives

Gmail, Yahoo Mail and others provide alternatives to soon-to-be-discontinued email service email addresses are going away — here are alternatives

Verizon has begun warning customers that it’s getting out of the email game and that you need to act soon if you want to keep your email address.

One alternative is to actually keep that address, but have Verizon acquisition AOL manage it for you. So your address would be on the surface, but AOL underneath due to Verizon ending its email service. (See also: "How to keep your Verizon email account from being killed off")

But if this whole situation might be prompting you to make a clean break from your carrier’s email system, here are a few free messaging services that you might want to consider, some more obvious than others. I’ve taken a fresh spin through each of the email systems to collect the latest info on them, figuring at least a good chunk of the 4.5 million email accounts controlled by Verizon will be moving elsewhere sooner than later.

Google Gmail

Can more than a billion users — well, many of those users have multiple accounts — be wrong? Maybe, though many Gmail users are willing to put up with the bad (personalized ads here and there) for the good (reliable service, free).

(See also: "Kicking Google out of my Life")

Some of the ads, at least on the surface, are pretty unobtrusive. Under Gmail's newish tabs structure, your messages will be filtered into categories such as Primary, Social and Promotions, with email-like ads appearing at the stop of the Promotions message inbox.

Inbox by Gmail Google

Snooze is one Inbox by Gmail feature designed to make messaging more manageable

One thing to consider if starting a new Gmail account or switching over to Gmail as your primary account, is to explore Inbox by Gmail, a streamlined, cleaner interface that’s been generally available for 2 years now. I haven’t been adventurous enough to use it on my main Gmail account but have changed to it one of my lesser used accounts, and it’s not bad. It bundles related messages and highlights keywords that can help grab your attention. 

Gmail features custom themes, lets you view attachments from within Gmail, and of course you get access to numerous other services from your Google account. Google also makes it pretty simple to switch between Gmail accounts. 

Google isn't standing pat on Gmail either. Earlier this year it announced a program for developers that makes it easier for services they create to run in Gmail regardless of whether you're using the email system on the web, iOS or Android. Google is also attempting to make Gmail more secure, such as by disallowing JavaScript attachments, a common source of malware.

While Gmail is free for individuals, you can upgrade to a work version for a price. Gmail comes with 15GB of storage (shared with Drive and Photos) and there are sometimes ways to add 2G free, such as by conducting a security check at the start of February for the made-up Safer Internet Day. You can jack it up to 100GB for $20 a year.

Google provides some support for those shifting to Gmail here.

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