Free Email FAQ
Compiled by
The answers to the most frequently asked questions about free email.

How can free email be free?
Most free email providers make their money by showing you advertisements, either graphical banners that you see as you collect your mail from their site, small text messages that appear at the end of your email messages or even advertiser messages that are sent directly to your emailbox. Some smaller providers offer free email as a community service, without any advertising whatsoever. Finally, some large sites offer free email as an attempt to lure visitors back to the site again and again.

Is there a catch?
Not usually... except if you count having to read advertisements a catch. A few email services get a bit carried away sending you lots of advertisements. Also, you need to remember that the Web changes very quickly, and some providers disappear from one day to the next. If possible, give your most important contacts a second way to get in touch so that they will never lose contact with you.

Can I have more than one free email address?
Sure! There are over 600 companies listed on , and if you wanted to you could sign up with all of them... You'd probably get a bit confused, though.

I don't have a computer. Do I need one to use a free email service?
No, you only need access to one. If you can visit a public library, cybercafe or even have a trusted friend with an Internet connection then you're in business. If you don't have your own computer, you're probably better off using a web-based email service... that way, you can log in from anywhere! This is the single best way for a student without a computer to stay in touch with friends, family, and others who think you're important.

Web-based Email

SUMMARY: With web-based email, you use your internet browser to go to the email provider's site, then log in with a user name and password. The email provider stores all your messages for you. Most of the largest free email providers are in the web-based email business since this kind of service is easy to implement and brings repeat visitors to a site. Many services offer extra functions, such as online spell-checkers, personal address books, distribution lists etc.

PROS: You can easily log in and collect your email from any web browser; you don't need to configure a program to read your email - great if you're not technically minded!

CONS: Many web-based services take advantage of advanced functions such as Java in order to provide an attractive interface. You will therefore need to have a current web browser in order to keep your options open; Netscape Navigator 4.x or Internet Explorer 4.x will be sufficient to access your email. Most web-based services do not match (yet!) the functionality of good email software. You are limited to a relatively small amount of storage space (typically a few megabytes) so you won't be able to keep your old messages for very long before you run out of room! Web-based email services generally show you banner advertisements while you are collecting your mail; many also add a short "tag line" to each message you send, identifying the service you used. This makes it very easy for the recipient to see that you used a free email service! For example:-

"This message was sent through Web-Based Mail.
Get your own free email at Web-Based Mail today!"

The Largest Providers:

HotMail (
The largest web-based free email service, now a part of the Microsoft family. You have 2MB of storage as part of this service. If you go over the 2MB storage limit, you receive a warning email indicating that in 5 days HotMail will delete some messages... and they do!

Yahoo! Mail (
You can open attachments that include audio and video clips, or scripts. Offers a built-in spellchecker. You can use your Yahoo! Mail login to access various games on Yahoo! You can also check an existing email account via Yahoo! Mail. You can also configure your outgoing email address.


Netscape Webmail (
Netscape teams with to offer free web-based email. Several comments received complained about the (lack of) speed of this service.