Charles Moore’s Free POP 3 Email Services Roundup 2007

13729 Many Mac-users are loyal to Apple's .Mac online service, which includes email, and if you can make good utilization of the suite of other features included with .Mac, a case can be made for it being a reasonable, albeit not spectacular value. However, if email service is what you're mainly looking for, the annual .Mac subscription fee is pretty steep. If you've been around the Mac community for a few years, you probably remember that Apple used to offer free mac.com "lifetime" POP3 email accounts, but it proved a short life, and mac.com ended with the launch of .mac. That was around the time things were looking pretty bleak for free POP 3 services, and several others went down the tubes as well.

However, there's been something of a renaissance in free email, especially with the debut of Google's powerful and feature-rich free Gmail service, about which more in a moment.

There are dozens of free email services on the Internet - the vast majority of them Web-based, which means that you must access your mail with a browser. Web-based email can be convenient if you travel a lot, or need to access your mail from computers you don't own, because you can use any computer, anywhere in the world, with Internet access to check your mail. However, for regular home or office purposes, POP 3 email is more convenient, especially if you are among the still-sizable proportion of Internet users who don't have broadband service.

POP 3 email is the type of email account you access with client software like Eudora or OS X Mail app. or Mozilla Thunderbird or another of the wide selection of email clients available.

Incoming messages are received by a remote server, and stay there until you download them to your own computer. With POP 3, you can do all your email work offline except for actual sending and downloading of messages, which cuts down immensely on online time used if you;re a dial-up user, and since both outgoing and incoming messages are stored on your own hard drive, it's always easy and convenient to access your archives.

One problem with third-party POP 3 email services, free or otherwise, is that your Internet Service Provider may be blocking Port 25 for all SMTP transmissions other than ones that go through its own SMTP server, which in turn may not accept messages with return addresses other than for your ISP email account. Some third-party email services work around this by supporting Port 587 with their SMTP servers for outgoing mail, and services that support (or require) the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol work around this issue nicely.

There has been substantial attrition in the selection of free POP3 services available since last year's survey. Services we profiled last year that have apparently disappeared include BGXMail.net, Cashette, ICMail.Net, and Spymac. Spymac was a particular surprise, and seems to have morphed into a personal networking site. At least I couldn't find any reference to their email service on their homepage.

My guess is that this is at least partly fallout from Google's Gmail service that offers both Web and POP 3 access and 2.5 gigabytes of online free storage space.

Google Gmail
http://gmail.google.com/

Speaking of Gmail, the biggest news in the free email orbit this year is that Google's service has finally gone public after a roughly three year by invitation only beta period. I've been a Gmail user since fairly early on, my wife and kids and many of my friends as well.

One of the things that distinguishes Gmail from the other two 900 pound gorillas of free email - Microsoft's HotMail and Yahoo! Mail, is that it offers free POP 3 access support (Yahoo! offers it for an annual fee), and very nicely executed POP 3 implementation at that. You can also use your Blackberry or Outlook or any POP-enabled device, or forward new messages to an email account you specify. Gmail operates exclusively under the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol, so it handily bypasses my ISP's SMTP relay block on third-party SMTP servers, which is extremely convenient for me. Automatic forwarding is also supported. Gmail can check for mail you receive at your other email accounts. You can retrieve your mail (new and old) from up to five other email accounts and have them all in Gmail. Then you can even create a customized 'From:' address, which lets you send messages from Gmail, but have them look like they were sent from another one of your email accounts. You can only retrieve mail from accounts that have POP3 access enabled.

Other Gmail features include built-in Google search technology and more then 2,600 megabytes of free storage.

There are no pop-ups or untargeted banner ads in Gmail, only small text ads. Ads and related information are relevant to your messages, so instead of being obtrusive, they may even be useful for once, and you don't see them at all in POP 3.

Gmail also integrates instant messaging into the email experience with its Gmail Chat feature, and it has excellent spam filtering. At least I get very little spam on my Gmail account. The downside of that may be lost real mail from time to time.

Gmail's Web-based service has an incredibly deep feature set that is beyond the scope of this article, but can be very nice to have, and you can of course access it any time from any INternet-connected computer anywhere, while still retaining full POP 3 capability on your home computer. You can opt to delete messages from your online Gmail storage when you download them with a POP 3 client, or just leave everything archived on the Gmail server forever if you wish.

Based on nearly three years of use, I can give Gmail an unqualified thumbs-up. This is a great email service, and I can;t think of anything to complain about.

For more information, visit:
http://mail.google.com/mail/help/open.html elcome to Gmail

Lavabit
http://lavabit.com/

A new free POP 3 email service of particular note this year is LavaBit. Actually, this service was spun out of another one we included last year called MailShack, but with the name change has come a substantial enhancement in features and performance.

For one thing, Lavabit supports SSL, which means that if your ISP blocks outgoing mail from third-party SMTP servers using the standard Port 25, you can still send mail with Lavabit. Secure Sockets Layer encryption was created specifically to eliminate eavesdropping and ensure that information could be transported securely over an untrusted network.

Lavabit's server supports message forwarding. Because forwarding is controlled from a centralized database, it's easy for you to set up using our custom preferences portal.

Lavabit uses the DSPAM library to filter spam. DSPAM is an adaptive filter that uses complex statistical algorithms to analyze your messages creating personalized training data that causes DSPAM to learn over time what you consider to be spam. Lavabit claims that many of their users see between 99.5% and 99.95% spam filtering accuracy.

Also in Lavabit's anti-spam arsenal are the ability to check Realtime Time Blacklist's (RBL) and block messages that appear to come from IP addresses on the list. You can configure the Lavabit email server to mark messages that come from blacklisted servers as 'SPAM' or simply accept the default setting, which automatically rejects messages from blacklisted IP addresses.

Greylisting is a strategy is based on the theory that if a spam zombie attempts to send a message and it can't deliver that message immediately, the message will fail permanently. Alternatively, legitimate e-mail servers will queue messages and retry delivery at a later date. Greylisting is therefore the process of rejecting all messages with a 400 level STMP code, indicating that the sending e-mail server should retry delivery at a later date. The Lavabit email server is capable of maintaining a list of past attempts and only letting messages pass through that are being retried.

With Whitelisting, a server will reject all messages unless the sender is on a list of approved senders. The Lavabit email server allows users to configure regular expressions that are then compared to a sender's address. If a match is found, the message is allowed through. The server also allows users to setup a 'passphrase', which if contained in the subject line of a message will bypass the Whitelist. Messages that fail the Whitelist can be marked as 'SPAM', deleted or bounced back to the original sender with a custom explanation.

Blacklisting support allows users to use regular expressions to block unwanted email at the server. If a message matches a provided regular expression, the server can be configured to mark the message as 'SPAM', delete it or bounce the message back to the sender with an explanation.

There are other anti-spam protocols offered including Scatter Back Blocking, Challenge and Response, SPF, and Domainkeys. You can read more about them on the Lavabit Website.

The Lavabit email server has also been tightly integrated with the Clam antivirus engine which helps protect users from a variety of malware threats.

The ability to place sending and receiving limits on users is a requirement for a free e-mail service. These limits deter spammers from using our system while protecting your inbox from e-mail bombs.
Storage Quotas

Another important feature of our e-mail server is its ability to internally manage storage quotas. Because all quotas are managed using a database, making updates or changes is very easy.
Message Rollout

A unique feature offered by our service is called message rollout. This feature, if enabled, allows a user to continually store e-mail on our servers. When their quota is reached, the server will automatically delete the oldest read messages to make room for incoming e-mail. This feature allows you to retain your e-mail securely on the server without fear that doing so could cause you to lose an incoming message by exceeding your quota.

Lavabit offers several levels of service, two free at the bottom end, and enhanced features for annual fees. The two free service levels offer 128 MB and 1,024 MB storage, and incoming/outgoing limits of 1,024 messages and 256 messages respectively, the distinction being that the larger storage capacity has ads and the lower one doesn't and there are 32 MB and 64 MB message size limits. On Lavabit accounts, a feature called message rollout will automatically delete the oldest read messages to make room for incoming email, which allows you to retain your email securely on the server without fear that doing so could cause you to lose an incoming message by exceeding your quota.

I've only been using Lavabit for a few days, but signup was easy and straightforward, with instant activation, and the service seems to work very well so far.

Returning free POP 3 email services are profiled below in alphabetical order. I don't claim that the listing below is exhaustive, but it covers most of the bases I think. Again, apologies in advance for any inadvertent omissions or errors, and if you know of any free POP3 email services I haven't included, please let me know.

Bluebottle Email
http://www.bluebottle.com

Bluebottle's open-source technology claims to be 100% effective in blocking unwanted email, and to effectively protect a user from spam while ensuring all legitimate email is received.

When Bluebottle receives an email from an address or domain not on your 'Allowed' list, a verification request is sent asking the sender to verify themselves in one of two ways. The required response to these verification requests automatically places the sender's address on your 'Allowed' list, and the email is delivered to you without delay.

Once the sender's address is on this list, they can email you as they would normally. The advantage is that you only receive email from allowed senders. To avoid identification, spammers commonly use forged or fake addresses. Consequently, the verification request is never seen or responded to, so spammers can't infiltrate your allowed list. That means you'll no longer receive annoying, unwanted email.

Simply add your known contacts to your 'Allowed' list so they can avoid verifying themselves. And even if legitimate senders do need to verify themselves, it's quick and easy to do so.

If you're sending an email, Bluebottle automatically adds the recipient's address to your allowed list to avoid a request being sent when they reply.

Features:
• 100% Spam Free Email
• Trusted Delivery Anti-Spoofing
• Webmail / POP3 / SMTP Access
• 10 MB Attachments.
• 250MB storage
• Forum Support
• Contacts (coming Q1 2006)
• Email Taglines (coming 2006)
• New Email Notification (coming 2006)
• Supports Port 587 for SMTP

Bluebottle applies the verification process to your existing email, including Hotmail, by checking your accounts through its servers. Email from known senders is delivered to your account without delay. Unknown email is placed in the pending queue to await verification. You can access your spam-free email through Bluebottle's webmail interface or via pop using any email client.

Allowed Senders
This is your list of addresses and domains from which you will receive email. Addresses can be either added manually, by automatic addition when sending outgoing mail, or by the sender successfully responding to a verification request. Addresses can be easily removed from your Allowed list.

Blocked Senders
This is your list of addresses and domains from which you will not receive email. Senders can only be added to this list manually. Emails received from addresses on this list are deleted instantly without a verification request being sent. Addresses can be easily removed from your Blocked list.

Pending Verification
This is a list of email that has been sent to you, but is from a sender not on your Allowed list. It is currently being held awaiting successful verification by the original sender. You can also allow the email through manually, which adds the sender's address to your allowed list and the email is delivered to your inbox. Pending email messages which aren't
successfully verified or allowed through manually will be removed after seven (7) days.

Verification Method
Bluebottle offers two methods by which a sender can verify themselves. The first of these methods is "Reply Only", whereby all that a sender needs to do to successfully respond to a verification request is by clicking on a link within the email. The second of these methods is "Full Name" which requires a sender to provide your full name to fulfill the requirements of the verification request successfully.

Protecting Existing Accounts
Bluebottle checks your external email accounts through its servers and then applies it to the email verification process. You are then able to access your spam free email through Bluebottle's site using any web browser, or you can use any POP/IMAP email client such as Outlook or Eudora by making a simple change to your email settings.

Bluebottle provides access to your email via the web. Simply visit http://www.bluebottle.com and login with your full address () and your password.

Bluebottle's signup page is quick and efficient with instant activation. Reliability has been good, although the server is sometimes a bit lazy about responding. Server upgrades are reportedly underway. Bluebottle also offers two levels of enhanced for-fee service.

Christian.Net
http://christian.net/faq.php

This online community offers free Web and POP3 email service to members (membership is free) This site is open to anyone, however, it is centered around Christianity (defined according to the providers' core beliefs), and they expect everyone to respect that.

You can use any e-mail program that is POP3 compliant (Eudora, Outlook Express, Netscape, etc.)

Note that you should NOT configure your mail program to check for new mail too frequently. The POP server counts each check you make and it will stop letting you in if you exceed a certain amount per day. This is an effort to help conserve bandwidth and reduce the impact on the server. This does not apply to the webmail program though. Checking once every 5 to 10 minutes is fine, checking every few seconds is not.

Christian.net don't currently allow you to use their SMTP server for relaying from external mail programs. Instead, you should configure your software to check for mail here while sending through your local ISP's mail server.

The mail server scans all incoming and outgoing messages and deletes those that contain viruses. The virus database is updated twice a day so it should always be current.

Each Christian.net e-mail address has a completely customizable spam filter. The default spam filtering options should stop most junk mail, but you might want to fine tune it using PEP.

Currently any single message is limited to 10 megabytes.

Your inbox is limited to 10 megabytes and email will bounce once it's full. To avoid this, either download your mail or move it into a different folder in the webmail program.

EmailAcc
http://www.emailacc.com/index.htm

A free email service that offers free POP3, Web based and redirection email accounts. They offer you to send your emails without any promotional text. Bilingual site both in English and French and they are one of the cheapest ISP in UK and France but email service is free for everyone.

FreePop3.net
http://www.dvclan.org/freepop3/

20MB. No Bloat. And its Free.

FreePop3.net provides free POP3 email accounts with webmail access and 20 MB storage. As the name suggests, this service is completely free of charge. Completely free anti-spam and anti-virus protection as an added bonus. This comes as standard with all free POP3 email accounts.

Support is free via email.

You can not only access your Free Pop3.net e-mail account from all over the world using the web-mail functionality but also use your favourite email client such as Eudora or Outlook.

Free Pop3.net was started by a team of computer enthusiasts who had had enough of all these so called 'free' services that didn't provide POP3 access. Not only that, they covered your emails with ads and gave you very little space.

FreePop3.net is dedicated to its task of providing you with free e-mail that is not only secure and reliable but is also extremely easy to use. They store none of your personal details, keep all legal email confidential and provide a generous amount of space. Theu rely on ads and donations. However, this is a non-profit company.

Any money derived from ads and donations goes into paying for the servers.

Gawab.com
http://www.gawab.com/webfront/main.php

This email service based in Alexandria, Egypt, offers:
• 2048 MB FREE account
• 50 MB Attachments
• 15 Interface Themes
• 14 Different Languages
• Unlimited Number of Folders
• POP/SMTP Support
• Protection from spam, viruses and pornographic emails
• More than 50+ features (some for fee, ut the basic service is free)
• Message Filters & Rules
• Also supports Webmail so you can check your inbox with a browser from any computer on the Internet

Signup is a bit time consuming and demands a lot of information, but once the signup process is complete, the new accouunt is created instantly.

I've used Gawab, and it has been fast and slick, and reliable both for checking and sending mail. When I had a technical support question, the Gawab folks got back to me promptly with the information I needed. Impressive.

HotPOP
http://www.hotpop.com/index.jsp

HotPOP LLC is a privately held company based in Newton, Massachusetts. Founded in 1998, HotPOP offers email accounts, from various domains, with a combination of features not found with other providers.

Features:
* FREE POP Mail Access - Read your mail with your favorite program.
* Large Mailboxes - Store thousands of messages with up to 100 megabytes of space.
* Ad-Free Options - Opt-out subscriptions available for as low as $0.99/month.
* Mail Filtering - User-defined filters can stop spam and other undesirable mail before it ever gets to your mailbox.
* Instant Signup - You can be ready to go in a few minutes.
* Free Support - If our site can't help you, our free email support can.
* Free Mail Forwarding - Have your mail forwarded to up to 15 addresses.
* Free SMTP Access - Send mail directly from your favorite client.
* Cool Domains - Fun, frisky and memorable.
* No Popups - We use no pop-ups, not even for free accounts.

New Features
Email Aliases: Protect your privacy and prevent spam with unlimited email aliases.
Major Anti-Spam Upgrade: Change message subjects or block spam based on your own settings.
New Support Center: Helping you better, faster, and easier.
Client Setup Guides: Step by step guide library launches.

There is also Web access to your HotPOP account. There is a limit of 500 KB per message, and a maximum of 1,000 incoming email messages per day.

Signup is easy. Just fill out the form and survey and you are ready to go. An email will be sent to your old address with your password and some helpful information. If you are using a POP account, you can log in right after you configure your client.

HotPOP currently has seven domains to choose from and says they constantly searching for new ones. Memo: keep looking, guys -- most of these are pretty lame.

• HotPOP.com
• ToughGuy.net
• PunkAss.com
• BonBon.net
• Phreaker.net
• SexMagnet.com
• GameBox.net

I've had a HotPOP account for several years. Once in a while the server is a bit sluggish about answering, but it always comes up, There is SMTP support for outgoing mail, which requires checking your inbox before sending, and I've found that aspect to be a bit cranky at times, requiring two or three checks before the SMTP server will respond.

HotPOP offers a combined POP3/forwarding and web-based email service. At the free level, HotPOP includes 10 MB of storage for email messages, and the ability to specify up to 3 destination addresses to forward messages to.

Another one that has proved to have staying power, and it's been reliable.

InMail24.com
http://www2.inmail24.com/

Features:
A private mailbox with a size up to 16 MB.
Outgoing e-mails can include multiple attachments.
Access via Web, POP3, IMAP4.
Access to your e-mail from anywhere in the world.
Built-in anti-virus system Zoner Antivirus.
Configurable anti-spam protection.
Messages can be filtered right on the server.
Folders for organizing your e-mail.
Stability, security, accessibility, and speed
Each registered user gets a copy of Zoner Photo Studio 8 classic. This application is a great way to get started in the world of digital photography.

LPeMail
http://www.lpemail.com/

Free POP3 and web-based email service with 10MB of storage

Fast, easy signup and immediate use access.

Spam Free Email
• Free Email Account
• A Spam Filter that works. An Email Manager that Blocks SPAM from your Inbox Stops 99.999% of SPAM and Viruses at the server
• Protect yourself from annoying SPAM
• Protect your computer from Viruses, Trojans and more and sophisticated anti-spam protection, including whitelist, blacklist and keyphrase options.
• Take Back all that wasted time sifting through Junkmail
• Protect your Family from being subjected to pornography
• Reduce the Spread of Harmful Viruses
• Guard your friends from re-routed Spam e-mail
• Use an Email Account that Works to Protect YOU

How can LPeMail's Spam Filter be Free?
LPeMail is supported by voluntary donations from those in the Community. If you would like to make a donation, go to:
http://liveprayer.com/donations.htm

Note that you will receive a daily devotional email in your LPEmail account.

SAFe-mail.net
http://www.safe-mail.net/

Safe-mail is a highly secure communication, storage, sharing and distribution system for the Internet. It provides email, instant messaging, data distribution, data storage and file sharing tools in a suite of applications that enable businesses and individuals to communicate and store data with privacy and confidence. Every application is secured by state-of-the-art encryption ensuring the highest level protection and privacy to users. Within the overall system as with each application, security is not an add-on feature but has been designed in to the fundamental architecture of the system.

Safe-mail is provided as a hosted facility and offers the following services:

• PrivateMail - a single account that brings together the best in email messaging for the individual user and provides a very secure online storage place for important documents and data. Register for a free account and you get 3MB of disk space to test drive the system. Then upgrade to a larger account through the StoragePlus program published under Premium Services.

• BusinessMail - the perfect secure communication system for your organization. Create and manage multiple email addresses under your own domain and bring your staff and customers together in one secure private community.

Functions and Features:
PrivateMail and BusinessMail provide the following functions, features and benefits:

• Secure e-mail - including security of attachments that provides private end-to-end email communication among Safe-mail users and between Safe-mail users and non-Safe-mail users. Safe-mail users communicating securely with non-Safe-mail users can choose to use their digital certificate (supplied free) where the recipient has their own digital certificate or, if not the case, then they can use the SafeBox function.

• SafeBox - allows Safe-mail users to send secure email to non-Safe-mail users. Non-Safe-mail recipients receive a notification that they have a secure email awaiting collection and they are directed to a secure web site to collect it.

• Address Book - with nested grouping and sharing facility of users' private address books.

• Calendar - track time-sensitive projects, set meetings, and remember birthdays. The Safe-mail calendar offers secure sharing with other Safe-mail users.

• Folders and sub-folders - Create folders and nested sub-folders, and organize your messages and files the way that's perfect for you.

• Read receipt - all messages are registered and tracked with read receipt so that users know when their emails are delivered and opened by recipients.

• Dynamic anti-virus - a mechanism that filters malicious code before it reaches the user.

• Dynamic SPAM filter - a dynamic mechanism that marks and filters out unwanted mail.

• User level Authentication - a facility enabling users to filter communication and data access to specific users and user groups.

• 100% PKI compatibility - providing unequalled privacy to Safe-mail users when communicating with each other and with non-Safe-mail users. All users can acquire a digital certificate on request.

• S/MIME compatibility permits secure communication to and from non-Safe-mail servers using digital certificates.

• Free Digital Certificate - Safe-mail users can communicate securely with non-Safe-mail users with their digital certificate (S/MIME) that Safe-mail supplies for free to all Safe-mail users.

• Brief Case - document storage and sharing with optional version control enables users to securely store and collaborate in the creation of documents and projects.

• Publish - an application to publish material such as electronic statements, news letters and message bulletins to groups, either Safe-mail users or non-Safe-mail users, where each item can be customized. It has list management tools to automate the addition and deletion of subscribers, issue membership invitations and self propagate. Above all, it's totally secure.

• Bulletin Boards - provides a Bulletin Board system that gives users the ability to open and administer their own public information boards. This feature is extremely effective for internal announcements and bulletins.

• Instant Messaging allows users to "chat" securely in real time from any machine with a browser supporting SSL.

• Monitor - an additional window that remains open on the desktop that alerts users when a new email arrives or someone wants to open a chat session.

• IMAP - enables standard email clients such as Outlook to access and control Safe-mail accounts.

• Back-Office - for Business domains for administering own domain, creating user accounts, allocating disk space, etc.

• Multiple choices for user interface - users can choose which interface suits them best depending on device, line speed or appearance.

The system is available at any time and from any location using any device or Operating System be it PC or Macintosh, Windows or Unix, Sun or i-mode enabled wireless device.

Virus Free Email
http://www.vfemail.net/

Virus Free Email provides businesses and end-users a quick and convenient way to ensure their own security when it comes to email.

VFEmail.net scans each complete email, including attachments, for viruses (AND SPAM TOO) BEFORE it gets to your INBOX. If a virus is found, you, the originator, and our staff will be notified. We do not share these email addresses, but we collect infection data, so we can pro-actively stop those offenders who may be unknowingly spreading disaster.

VFEmail also provides a convenient web-mail interface intended for corporate "Road Warriors". The flexibility of this interface includes HTML, MS Word, and MS Excel document viewers. We also support individual Email forwarding, domain forwarding, vacation messages, and work with our clients to constantly increase the flexibility of our offerings.

If you are using mail.vfemail.net as your SMTP server, you have two options:

1. Check your mailbox with POP BEFORE you send an email.
Quite a few email clients support this setting. Note: Netscape 4.7x has a bug that will cause problems in this mode, and not allow you to send email. Upgrade to Netscape 6.1

2. Use plain text to authenticate to SMTP.
This is the most popular option, all modern email clients should support this. It is also a better choice if you are an IMAP user. VFEmail.net supports SMTP over SSL, so even though your password is 'plain-text', your whole connection has already been encrypted. Email the HelpDesk if you have any questions.



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