Everyone who conducts any sort of business activity on the internet should really have two email addresses. Your primary address might be one provided by your ISP, or in your own domain name. For example, mine is email@example.com. Your secondary address can be a free web email account, such as from Yahoo or Gmail, for example firstname.lastname@example.org.
With your two email accounts, you can:
- Check your email from anywhere. Most web email services let you check other external POP accounts, pulling a copy of your mail into their interface. So you can use your secondary web email account to read the mail in your primary mailbox. (Unfortunately Gmail does not yet offer this feature).
- Send mail with your primary address on the From: line.
- Send mail from one account to the other, to see what your sent messages look like to others.
- If you run a newsletter mailing list, subscribe all your email addresses to your list, to verify distribution of your outgoing posts and to check what the messages look like in various email clients.
- If you are a subscriber to a discussion list, subscribe using your Gmail account. You will appreciate how Gmail threads discussions, putting related messages together. And list posts can then be archived on Gmail and then searched easily.
- Use your secondary email address when required to give out your email address during a web site registration. Unwanted email from that site can then languish in your secondary account until you feel like deleting it. And if it's spam, it will usually be blocked - all the major web email services offer pretty good spam filtering.
I don't recommend Hotmail because their interface is full of obnoxious ads. So is Yahoo's. But in our experience Hotmail also is quite slow at receiving email and seems to route legitimate email to the 'junk' folder more often.
Our current recommendation is a Gmail account. See WhyILikeGmail - It's free, fast, has minimal, easily-ignored advertising, excellent spam filtering, and lets you send email using your primary address on the From: header.