If you have your own domain & would like to have an email address on your domain (firstname.lastname@example.org) for free, there few methods to do it.
1. Hosting Account
This is not really FREE because you have to purchase a hosting account. However, if you have an existing hosting account to host your website, normally there is no additional fee involved. From my observation, this is the most commonly method that people do.
However, I think this service is not the best ways as your hosting server may experience a problem from time to time, and causing you to lose and not receive certain important email. Another issue is hosting account migration; you may not receive important email during the process. If you are using huge email storage, there may be a headache to migrate the account too.
2. Google Apps Standard Edition
Google used to offer Standard FREE Google Apps account but stop doing so since 6th December 2012. However, if you have signup before that, you are allowed to continue using it.
With Google Apps account, Google will host your email service & you will have a cloud storage of 15GB for each user. The storage is shared between Gmail and Google Drive. Service like Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Sites and many more are also added to each user account. Each FREE Google Apps account can have in between 10 to 2000 FREE users depending upon the sign-up date & application for extra users.
If you sign-up prior to 6th December 2012, your account remains active & you are allowed to ADD additional domains to your account for FREE. However, since 14th November 2014, Google no longer allow user with legacy Standard Google Apps to additional or secondary domain.
3. Windows Live Admin
For the time being, Windows Live Admin is the only service remain FREE & anyone may sign up to it. You may use your existing Live Mail, Outlook or Hotmail account to subscribe to Windows Live Admin. After sign-up, you can have extra domains, and you can add up to 50 users for each domain. If 50 accounts per domains are not enough, you may request for more.
With Windows Live Admin, your email service is hosted by Microsoft. You also will received 7GB FREE cloud storage at Windows Live SkyDrive.
Unfortunately, since 10th April 2014, Microsoft start to wind down the Custom Domains but existing email address continue to work.
After using all 3 services that I describe above, I can say that Google Apps & Windows Live admin are much better than email service from hosting account for their service reliability & the most importantly you don’t have to worry about hosting migration.
Between Google Apps & Windows Live Admin, I like Google Apps the most because,
- Google Apps has better compatibility when integrating with email software and web application such as CMS or Shopping cart scripts.
- Google Apps SPAM filtering service is not as strict as Windows Live. From my experience, I have a lot of problems where I did not receive a lot of emails with Windows Live due to very strict email filtering. This is true if the email sent by using PHP sendmail function.
- Google Apps do not remove your account if you did not log in to your account for some period of time.