Skip to content

Comparing Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail

Derik suggested a comparison between Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo mail. Glad to oblige. Last night I set up virgin email accounts at each service. Then I redirected all mail from my spam ridden domain to each address. It’s been a looong time since I’ve used Yahoo or Hotmail, so I figured it would be interesting to see how they are.


Signing up is pretty straightforward. Make sure you opt out of the thirteen “Special Offers and Marketing Communications” from Yahoo!. Even if you do, you may get them for up to 10 days.

Also make sure you read all of the 126 lines in the Terms of Service. I love how every onilne service makes it easy to sign up, but difficult to read the terms of service.

Yahoo gave me 1.0GB of space for messages. This morning they have caught 3,419 pieces of spam, with nothing in my inbox. Not bad. I also counted six graphical ads, including an enormous one that takes half the screen.


Signing up was not too bad. you only get 25 MB of space, and then up to 250Mb in around 30 days after someone at Hotmail decides you are worthy. I found the home page very busy. There are tons of links to go other places, a large ad (but not as large as Yahoo’s big ad).

It was very confusing when I tried to logout. Apparently, Hotmail does not want you to log out. I never was able to successfully log out. If you hit the “Need help signing out?” link, all you get a is a pitch for other MS services, like Passport. I’m still not sure if I got logged out or not. Wonderful, is MS tracking me as I surf?

This morning, they’ve caught 898 messages, none missed. but where are the other couple thousand messages? I see tons fo rejections in my mail server’s log. It makes me wonder how robust Hotmail is and how many other messages didn’t make it to my Hotmail mailbox at all.

I will say it was cool to see that Hotmail is still linking to GetNetWise in the page footer. GetNetWise is one of the web sites I manage for my day job.


Gmail is interesting, because you have to either be referred by a friend (I have over a hundred invitations if anyone is interested), or you have to provide Gmail with your cell number so they can SMS you a code to sign up. So you can’t be totally anonymous through Gmail. So even though Gmail appears to be the only large webmail provider protecting user’s privacy from the government, they do know a lot about you. Currently, they give users 2.6GB of space.

Gmail has the cleanest interface by far. The ads appear as text blocks once you are actually looking at a message.

Gmail missed 184 messages, and tagged 2,591 messages. So it looks like Gmail is missing some messages too. Weird. All three of these services should have the same number of messages total.

Terms of Service

Remember the good old days, when there was a separate page you had to click through that had the entire terms of service available without having to scroll through a one inch high textbox? It seems the service provider would love to have a captive audience so teey could have another opportunity for a few eyeballs to see an ad. Plus now you have to read two or three separate agreements to sign up for a service. Who really reads these things?


Wow, I think I’ll stay with my home grown solution: SquirrelMail running on my Red Hat Enterprise box. If I had to recommend a webmail system to someone, I’d lean towards Gmail. It’s clean interface, generous disk space make it a winner. But I wouldn’t run a business off of it.


  1. Matt Hancock says:

    I recently wrote an article comparing the three with regards to spam filters. I did an informal test by signing up for all three services. I then went to a “sign up for a free ipod” website and entered the three email addresses in. That is enough to get a LOT of spam.

    Gmail won, hands down. Hotmail was second, and Yahoo took a distant third place. I was a little surprised about how poorly Yahoo faired.

    I’m a fan of Gmail, and I’m like you, I run SquirrelMail from my own dedicated server.–Gmail–Hotmail-Tested

  2. Emily says:

    Having tried all email platforms I like gmail the most. The only problem I find with gmail is that I cant export my emails to a folder. Other than that everything else is great.