ISP (Internet Service Provider) email account – advantages and disadvantages

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The email account from an ISP (Internet Service Provider) is the first email address for many of us. And this is obvious because it comes free with the Internet connection. But should we this ISP email address at all? Here is a look at some of the important advantages and disadvantages of ISP email account.

The advantages of ISP email account

Gone are the days when email accounts with decent storage space and features came at a price. Soon after the launch of Gmail (with special invites) and the tremendous competition it posed to the established players, Hotmail and Yahoo email accounts started increasing the storage space and features associated with their free web based email accounts.

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We’ve been ushered into a new era of email wars where each free online service tries to outdo the other by offering more and more with the email account. However, email accounts provided by the ISP have certain distinct advantages over the ones from online services such as Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. One of them being the better customer support than that offered by the free web based email services.

The free email account services are not that concerned about losing a subscriber as an ISP. Internet Service Providers understand that many clients would be newbies who would probably require a great deal of help in getting started and have customer support staff that patiently hear the problems and offer solutions.

Please note: Above is an idealistic situation and I don’t think it would be applicable to all ISPs in the real world.

Another advantage of ISP email accounts is they are generally POP3 or IMAP enabled and can be configured in any email program such as Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird, IncrediMail, Zimbra desktop (free email program of Yahoo) etc. These email addresses also come with a web based GUI for you to check messages from any computer and any location as long as an internet connection (whether from the same ISP or another company) is available.

Disadvantages of ISP email account

There are two clear disadvantages that I can think of; there would probably be more, but these two stand out. The biggest drawback is the unavailability of the email account if you shift to a new location where the ISP does not have service. To get around this problem, I suggest you take the services of a national and well established ISP or end up paying the rental for the net connection just to maintain the email address. The second shortcoming of an ISP email account is that if the company closes shop, your email address would be gone forever. Don’t think it cannot happen to you because I faced this very problem when Satyam, the big Indian IT company, closed the email account I had been maintaining for more than 10 years!

To conclude, you can use the ISP email account if you like but don’t make it your primary address for contact unless you know you would not shift from your location ever. This does not mean web based email accounts are a better solution – they aren’t! For instance, to troubleshoot any problem you can at least speak to a live person at your ISP. In case of web based services, you would be very lucky if you got a personalized reply from the customer support. No one and nothing is perfect – email accounts from Hotmail, Yahoo! and Gmail can all go offline and leave you stranded.