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Free vs. Paid Webmail: The Pros and Cons for Your Business

If you’re looking for a new webmail host, you may be wondering whether to choose a free or a paid option. Getting the best platform for your business’s needs is important, as it can affect everything from your daily productivity to the security of your data.

Use the guide below to navigate the process – you’ll find all the pros and cons of each option to help you select the webmail host that best suits your business, both now and in the future.

Cost

This one’s obvious! However, some email providers offer a free basic tier but give you the opportunity to upgrade to a paid tier at any point, which unlocks lots of additional features, tools, and other benefits. This may be a good option for start-up businesses that want to save money but also have an eye on scaling in the near future.

Custom Domains

A free email service won’t allow you to create a custom domain for your email address. On the other hand, a paid webmail client lets you create a custom domain for a more professional appearance. This could look something like: information@yourbuisinessname.com.

Storage Space

There’s usually a big difference in the amount of storage space you’ll get with free webmail as compared to paid webmail. To give you an idea, the average amount of storage space you’ll get with the former is around 2GB and 5GB, while it’s around 25GB to 30GB with the latter, with more usually available for an additional cost.

Storage space will impact both the number of messages you can have in your inbox and other folders before you’ll be unable to receive new incoming emails and the size of attachments your business can send.

Accessibility

It’s likely that you’ll want to check your email via various devices. With paid webmail, this is usually a slick process, with the platform automatically syncing across all the devices you use. While it can also be an easy process with some free webmail providers, this isn’t always the case, so checking accessibility is important before signing up to ensure that you’ll be able to pick up your email both from the office PC and your mobile devices.

Privacy and Security

While all reputable email providers, whether paid or otherwise, should provide a good basic level of security, paid webmail almost universally offers more advanced protection. Plus, free services usually generate their income by selling user data to third parties and from ad placement, so it’s important to consider whether this suits your business.

A paid webmail hosting service means that you won’t see advertisements on the platform and that web browsers won’t have an insight into your online activity.

Virus Protection and Spam Filters

You’ll usually get a spam filter with free and paid webmail options, but those offered by the latter tend to be more robust. Most paid webmail hosts will also incorporate virus protection to guard your business’s account against malware and other digital threats. 

Additional Features

While, as you’d expect, paid webmail offers lots more features and tools, some free webmail options offer a surprising amount. This includes dynamic calendars, in-app video conferencing, and collaborative inbox tools designed to help remote and hybrid teams up their productivity game.

Customer Service

Considering the level of customer service your business needs is important. Both free and paid webmail options should offer robust customer service and allow you to make contact via various methods, such as live chat, phone call, or email. However, as you’d expect, you’re more likely to have access to 24/7 support with a charged-for email host.

Free Webmail

The Pros

  • Affordable
  • Access to basic features and tools
  • Ability to create as many free email addresses as needed
  • You may have the option to upgrade to a paid plan in the future

The Cons

  • Data may be sold to third parties
  • Less robust spam filtering and virus protection
  • Unable to create custom email domain addresses
  • Ads will be shown in your business’s inbox

Paid Webmail

The Pros

  • Ability to create custom domain addresses for added professionalism
  • Access to a wider range of features and tools
  • Enhanced privacy and security
  • More storage space, often including cloud storage options
  • Higher level of customer service

The Cons

  • Extra monthly cost to build into your business budget
  • Potentially tricky to sync with other platforms and apps your business currently uses

Free vs. Paid Webmail: The Overall Winner

Whether free or paid webmail is most suitable for your needs will largely depend on your business. A small start-up enterprise that needs to be particularly aware of its budget may well find that a free client has all the basic tools and features required to get it up and running. Though if this is the case, you may wish to choose a platform that’ll allow you to upgrade when the time comes to save you the hassle of switching providers.

However, for established businesses or start-ups that have the budget for it, a paid webmail platform could be the better choice. Crucially, this option allows your business to create its own custom domain, which appears more professional to clients than a generic handle. The enhanced range of tools and features are likely to be useful, too, with many overlapping into project management territory, helping you and your team to get more done from your inbox.