Ever since the days of Hotmail, Juno, and America Online, free email hosting has been highly desired and fairly easy to find. When Microsoft acquired Hotmail in 1997, the free service had more than 8.5 million users after only two years in business.
Twenty years later, more than 3.7 billion people send more than 269 billion messages each day. With such an emphasis on business email communications and personal branding, however, many of those free email hosting platforms don’t come with the storage, features, and security needed to succeed.
Here, we’ll cover the free — and nearly free — options that enable you to connect a custom domain name, filter away spam, and ensure your messages reach customers and colleagues.
We’ve made the argument time and time again — free web hosting of any sort typically isn’t worth any perceived savings. Whether you’re looking for a place to store your email or website files, no-cost plans typically come on substandard infrastructure with outdated or insufficient security protections.
For a meager investment of less than $5 per month, you can get impressively fast and stable web hosting and around-the-clock technical support to go with a free domain registration and email hosting. Considering email marketing comes with a massive return on investment of 38-to-1, the added performance perks of reasonably priced hosting plans bode extremely well for your personal and business communications.
Sheer simplicity represents the major benefit to operating your email through your web hosting account — there’s one bill, one support team, one account interface. Your provider will be plenty eager to help you connect your custom domain name, email servers, and webmail clients, drastically shortening the setup time and headaches commonly associated with configuring email inboxes. Take a look at our favorite hosts below; these companies all boast excellent price-to-power ratios to go with robust email tools and friendly customer support.
- FREE software for webmail, newsletters, contact forms, list management, and spam filtering
- Unlimited addresses with forwarding & autoresponders
- Secure POP3, IMAP, and SMTP messaging
- Unlimited storage and transfer with FREE SSL
- Get more than 50% off today (was $7.99/month)
- Get started on A2 Hosting now.
Alexandra Leslie (HostingAdvice.com):
Combining the internet’s most popular and secure email technologies with high-speed and reliable infrastructure, A2 Hosting ensures your messages are delivered on time. As a recipient, you’ll appreciate the company’s multiple spam filtering… Go to full review »
|Money Back Guarantee||Disk Space||Domain Name||Email Hosting Plans|
|30 days||Unlimited SSD||New or Transfer||www.a2hosting.com/email|
- FREE domain and unlimited emails
- Secure email with 3 webmail solutions
- $200 in advertising credits with Google and Bing
- Google app integration available
- FREE Office 365 mailbox for your first 30 days
- Get started on Bluehost now.
Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com):
For email hosting with security and tons of available features, Bluehost is one of our favorites. The company includes a free domain name for a year, POP3 and IMAP security for unlimited emails, plus email forwarding and three web-based email solutions…Go to full review »
|Money Back Guarantee||Disk Space||Domain Name||Email Hosting Plans|
|30 days||50 GB – Unlimited||FREE (1 year)||www.bluehost.com/email|
- FREE domain registration or no-downtime transfer
- Unlimited SPAM Safe™ email with IMAP
- 1-click app installer and FREE marketing tools
- Business-class hardware and ecommerce-ready
- SSD storage plus FREE data backups and SSL security
- Get started on InMotion now.
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com):
For business-class email hosting, look no further than InMotion. They offer a free domain name, SSD drive, and secure IMAP email. Their 1-click app installer gives you easy access to over 310 apps, plus Google app integration with a 3-step wizard…Go to full review »
- FREE site transfers and 1-year domain name registration
- Unlimited domains, disk space, and email addresses
- Email forwarding, autoresponders, and webmail
- Market your site with $200 in ad credits and SEO tools
- FREE online store and site-building tools
- Get started on iPage now.
PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com):
With iPage, users get a free domain name and email account, plus unlimited bandwidth, disk space, domains, and MySQL databases. The brand offers POP3/IMAP support for unlimited emails, plus autoresponders, virus checking, and spam filters…Go to full review »
|Money Back Guarantee||Disk Space||Domain Name||Email Hosting Plans|
|30 days||Unlimited||FREE (1 year)||www.ipage.com/email|
Aside from your web hosting provider, tons of other companies offer email-only plans centered around productivity and business communications. These email hosting specialists often provide extra oomph to the storage, security, and spam-fighting features, and sometimes come with added software for contacts, calendars, and chatting. Pricing for business email plans, however, can quickly exceed what many young companies can realistically afford.
Sure, you can sign up for free email accounts just about anywhere. In fact, we utterly love the functionality that industry leaders at Google and Microsoft provide in Gmail and Outlook, respectively, but the free services don’t allow users to use a custom domain name. For that, you’ll need to sign up for G Suite or Office 365 — or check out one of these free options for business email communications.
Probably the closest competitor to G Suite on this list, Zoho boasts powerful email services as the flagship of a larger suite of productivity tools. The company’s forever-free email solution is significantly pared back from the full platform, but it should perfectly meet the needs of most small businesses. Customers can still connect to other user-friendly Zoho tools while relying on antivirus and spam protection in a gloriously ad-free environment.
- Number of users: Up to five inboxes on one domain
- Storage: 5GB per user
- Other info: 25MB attachment limit, web access only, and no ads
- Cost of paid plans: Between $1 and $4 per user per month
As the biggest technology company in Russia and operators of the country’s largest search engine, Yandex again draws comparisons to tech giants like Google. The company removes many restrictions on those who rely on its free email services, allowing for ample inboxes and unlimited storage. Default inboxes are allotted 10GB to start and can grow from there. In addition, we appreciate the platform’s sleek and minimalist interface, along with send-it-later and translation features.
- Number of users: Up to 1,000 users
- Storage: 10GB per user with the option to buy extra space for individual inboxes
- Other info: Access via webmail and a mobile app. Comes with search and calendar functionality but displays ads.
- Cost of paid plans: $3 per user per month, minimum of three users
Don’t be fooled by the plain, text-heavy website of Migadu — the bootstrapped company from Switzerland offers a refreshing approach to free email hosting. For starters, Migadu gives users a free no-expiration trial to test its services and won’t limit the number of inboxes you set up. You are limited to just 1GB of email storage and 10 outgoing messages per day (which includes a Migadu signature), which certainly isn’t ideal, but should be enough to get your feet wet.
- Number of users: Unlimited accounts on one domain
- Storage: 1GB per user
- Other info: Free users are restricted to only sending a maximum of 10 emails per day, each of which will include a “Sent via Migadu” signature
- Cost of paid plans: $4 to $49.50 per month — no per-user fee
Doing things just a little bit differently than competitors, Mail.com allows customers to choose from more than 200 email domains. Of course, it’d be far better to use your own domain name, but we expect most users will be able to find an option that fits for the short term. Owned by United Internet — the parent company of global hosting provider 1&1 IONOS — Mail.com opens the door to premium infrastructure and support without spending a dime.
- Number of users: Accounts are registered one at a time
- Storage: 2GB per user
- Other info: Tools for calendars, antivirus, and spam protection are available, as well as Mail Collector, which collects messages from various accounts. 50MB attachment limits
- Cost of paid plans: $29.99 per year
9. GMX Mail
Another subsidiary of United Internet, GMX Mail offers different services and features than Mail.com. The company enables users to register up to 10 email accounts, each of which includes Mail Collector, address book, organizer, and file storage. The generous storage limits enable users to store half a million emails, and GMX provides tons of customizable filters that allow you to automatically sort messages by date, subject, sender, and content.
- Number of users: Up to 10 inboxes
- Storage: 65GB per account
- Other info: Mobile access, spam filters, and antirvirus protection. Free email support but the interface displays pop-up ads.
- Cost of paid plans: Not available
For those who still want to hold onto their trusty Gmail account interface and use a custom domain name without paying the G Suite fees, ImprovMX makes it possible — you’ll just have to deal with a bit of technology wrangling. This article shows you how to connect your domain name with Gmail through your current web hosting plan via email forwarding and aliases. If your domain hosting doesn’t cover email forwarding, ImprovMX steps in to provide the necessary DNS records. Gmail still stores your messages, but ImprovMX’s servers handle the sending and receiving.
- Number of users: Unlimited
- Storage: Not applicable
- Other info: 99.99% uptime guarantee, plus helpful guides that streamline configuration with top domain registrars
- Cost of paid plans: $9 per month
We know it’s a bit of a stretch, but by far the best free email service is the one that comes attached to your web hosting plan. You can configure any number of webmail clients and mobile apps to access your inbox and send messages to find just the interface you want, all while keeping your monthly bills to a minimum.
The major advantage is the brand recognition you’re building by combining your domain name with your online communications. Whether your contacts are professional or personal, emailing from a custom domain name shows a level of sophistication and attention to detail that builds confidence and trust. Here are some other features to look out for:
- POP3, IMAP, and SMTP support
- Unlimited storage and inboxes
- High attachment file size limits
- Email forwarding and autoresponders
- Robust antivirus and malware protection
- Strict spam filtering rules
- Easy setup of webmail software
- Newsletters and other marketing tools
The free email products listed in the section above are typically either supported by ads, restrict the number of accounts, limit how much storage, and hamper the speed and security with which your communications are delivered. The email associated with web hosting plans give you unlimited room to grow in many regards.
Well, perhaps our web-and-email hosting double dipping is getting out of hand. Although the email services are included for free with even the most affordable plans, you’re still technically paying something.
However, partnering with platforms that specialize in just email hosting and delivery can be an important tool for medium and larger businesses that require large numbers of inboxes, top-notch reliability, and tons of storage. Even better, many of these premium products boast extra features for productivity and collaboration, from analytics and automation to marketing templates and social media integrations. Take a look at the paid services you should consider:
To be fair, this list is by no means comprehensive — but it provides a solid cross section of our favorite options for businesses of all shapes and sizes. No matter which option you select, be sure to prioritize customer support teams that can quickly respond to any problems you may encounter.
Need to take a step back and figure out how to send messages from your own domain name? Setting up a business email address can seem a bit daunting, but there are plenty of resources available to help you along the way.
For starters, you’ll need to register (or own) a domain name. The best domain hosts include one for free when you sign up for at least a year of service. From there, you’ll need to configure your email accounts and inboxes — typically done through cPanel or another top web management panel.
The final step is to update your DNS records to enable the world’s servers to know where to route your incoming mail. Each host’s interface is slightly different, but they’ll surely have a knowledge base article or tutorial to assist you.
Despite the pervasiveness and popularity of email communications, it’s actually not a terribly secure method of sharing important or sensitive information. Messages must pass through multiple networks and servers to reach your intended recipient, and each new waypoint exposes emails to attack if they aren’t properly secured.
To fully protect an email message, it must be encrypted throughout its entire journey. That also means the recipient needs to use the same encryption system, which can be difficult to configure and tough to manage. These companies excel at handling the challenging technology while presenting simplified mail clients and mobile apps.
- ProtonMail: Widely regarded as one of the best secure email providers in the industry, ProtonMail servers in Switzerland protect your data while you interact with the platform’s extremely user-friendly interface. Users get one free protonmail.com account or premium plans up to $34 per month for unlimited users.
- CounterMail: Using theoretically unbreakable OpenPGP encryption, CounterMail is the first secure email provider to offer diskless servers (that boot from a CD-ROM) and protect against man-in-the-middle attacks. You can sign up for CounterMail’s one-week free trial or spend between $3 and $5 per month for 4GB of storage.
- Tutanota: For those who love open-source software, Tutanota is on a mission to protect privacy and fight for human rights. Millions have signed up for Tutanota’s end-to-end encryption that covers a user’s entire mailbox. Those seeking community-driven security can sign up for Tutanota for free on their domain or spend up to $7 per month for custom domains, extra storage, and a white-label interface.
Emails generally aren’t encrypted if you don’t use a specialized platform, which means attackers who infiltrate a network or server can easily read the messages’ full text or view attachments. Regardless of the level of security you choose to implement on your online communications, you can boost your protection with two-factor authentication, strong password management, and keeping an eye out for phishing campaigns and suspicious attachments.
Ever since the ubiquitous “You’ve got mail” alert announcing a new message in your inbox, email has been used to drive timely communication between friends, family, colleagues, and customers. Despite the growing popularity of chat and video conferencing, email is still among the most popular electronic communication methods around.
According to a study from technology market research firm Radicati Group, business emails account for nearly 140 billion messages sent and received each day, with people individually interacting with roughly 120 emails on average — and those numbers are only expected to grow.
Corresponding from a custom domain name echoes your company’s branding, earns customer trust, and builds professional legitimacy. Once your inboxes are all set up and flourishing, be sure to explore email marketing platforms that enable you to create mailing lists and see who is opening and clicking on your messages.
Was this helpful? Tell Us Thanks.
About the Author
Laura Bernheim has spent more than 12 years crafting engaging and award-winning articles that share the passion behind organizations’ products, people, and innovations. As a contributor to HostingAdvice, she combines a reputation for producing quality content with rich technical expertise to show experienced developers how to capitalize on emerging technologies and find better ways to work with established platforms. A professional journalist, Laura has contributed to The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, the Sun Sentinel, and the world’s top hosting providers. In addition to conducting interviews with industry leaders, Laura drives internal writing and design teams to deliver stellar, timely content that clearly explains even the most difficult concepts.