Why using Zoho Mail was the best free alternative?
I am running a small company based in Bulgaria as a web developer, got a personal VPS where I host my clients’ web projects and offer them web programming, design, SEO and almost any other utility for their business you can imagine. Many of those clients are on a budget or are having their first startup and need a free alternative for their e-mail service. The reason I’m not hosting a separate e-mail server is that every well-informed, technically competent person knows that you’ll need at least 3 very stable servers running 24/7 (not to mention serious companies are running at least ten of these) in order to assure their clients that they’ll survive every DDOS attack and even a connection flick. Taking into consideration many of my clients’ first investments (domain, design, code, SEO, hosting, advertising and others) the last thing they plan spending money on is an e-mail server.
Zoho was the best free mail provider so far who lets you have an email hooked to your own domain name. Instead of email@example.com, you would have a professional-looking e-mail address like this one: firstname.lastname@example.org
Is there really no more free POP/IMAP option left?
Speaking of Zoho the answer is a big fat NO! All the e-mail account created after December 4th 2017 will lack the option for POP, IMAP, e-mail Forwarding and Active Sync. If you are interested in having access to POP/IMAP using your own domain name, you can check their pricing page and start with the basic plan from 1EU/month.
So here is some good news. At least their current user base won’t completely lose the privilege of POP and IMAP usage and can continue using the service for free within the limitations of the free plan which includes a small number of users, limited inbox space etc.
Why is this post on the wall of shame then?
Zoho is an Indian company operating since 1996 and it’s almost as old as me – 23 years old. Managed by AdventNet in 2005 they released their big pack of services to the online community. This makes them very well known around the WWW, having tons of websites linking to them with thousands of positive reviews recommending their services and especially their free e-mail service.
I understand they want to convert more of their end-users to buyers which means limiting the free options and advertising the paid plans in order to increase their passive income. They used to be free for the last ten plus years to get known around the internet and slowly increase their taxes or completely remove their free plan option. The thing is in this particular case, the circumstances under which they are doing it are a bit dodgy and that leaves the new users frustrated and with a bad taste in their mouths.
Unfortunately, there was not a single notice that the company is changing its policies. The least they could do is send an automated e-mail message to their existing userbase or create an article on their website and introduce us to their new practice and the decision they took. You’ll ask:
Why? All the accounts created before December 4th 2017 are still left with the POP/IMAP option intact, right?
That’s true but as I said in the first paragraph many small businesses that are just starting up are reading online reviews of a free product that exists from ten plus years, go to the Zohos’ website, lose 15 minutes entering data and connecting their DNS records to Zoho. After the registration process is over they are going to open their email client (Thunderbird, MS Office, Mailspring or any other depending on their personal choice) just to find out that they can’t connect the account via any of the options. Yikes!
Alright but I want to stick with Zoho mail. Can I still access my email?
Yes, you can. Downloading their desktop mail client or the official Zoho Mail application from Google play you can continue to use their services with email@example.com. The thing is I personally don’t recommend it. Why? Well, because all of these apps have their own bloatware and unnecessary “features” you may want to avoid. Not to mention it’s a botnet software. It’s true, you are already using Zoho e-mail server, so I guess you are willingly sharing your personal correspondences for all those algorithms to track once you click that tick next to the “agree to the terms and conditions” button, you actually never read.
Okay, so what are the FREE ALTERNATIVES for POP/IMAP access?
Zoho marketing managers are not willing to change their mind so what now?
I found quite a few free alternatives and I’ll mention some of them in this post. Keep in mind I never used all of the listed free alternatives and I’ll appreciate your feedback and suggestions in the comment section under the post. Feel free to recommend any free service that offers POP and IMAP features.
- Google Apps for Work
- Office 365 Business Essentials
- Rackspace Email Hosting
- Yandex Domains
- Inbox.com Mail Hosting
- FastMail Business
- Hushmail Business
- Rediffmail Enterprise