Time to bail from Gmail? Don't be silly

Time to bail from Gmail? Don't be silly

Summary: The Great Debate series this week pit me against David Braue for the 'Time to abandon Gmail?' debate question. I said 'No.'

TOPICS: Google, Google Apps

David Braue and I went head-to-head this week in the Great Debate on the question, "Time to abandon Gmail?" I said "No". The audience and the moderator both agreed. It is not time to give up on Gmail. Why give up on something that works so well?

I'll tell you up front that I've used Gmail since it was in early beta. I received an invitation to use it from a friend of mine and I've never used anything else since making the change. That was almost ten years ago. Have I ever thought about switching from Gmail to something else? Yes. Have I ever found anything that has come close to delivering what I need from an email client? No. Gmail has everything, except folders, but that's not a deal breaker for me. It's just an inconvenient truth.

A lot of Gmail deserters left because of privacy concerns. But, FYI, it's no better on any other system. The reason is that law enforcement can require service providers to collect and turn over your private information. Just as your bank, the phone company, your doctor, your ISP, or anyone who has your personal information has to comply with the requests of law enforcement, Google must provide what's asked of it.

If you think you're entitled to privacy, you're wrong. Read the fine print.

So to blame Google for something it has no control over is just wrong. 

If you want to change email services or clients because of some feature or financial issue, then please feel free. Well, feel free anyway, it's a free country—or community—or whatever. You get the idea. You have choices and you can exercise your right to choose.

For me, Gmail is the best available mail client and mail service. It's always available. It's free to me as an individual user. Google gives me a lot of space. Currently, I'm using 3.64GB out of my available 15GB. Yes, 15GB! That's a lot of space, folks.

One of the Gmail features that I use most is the one that automatically responds using the same email address that was sent to me. In other words, if you send an email to ken@frugalnetworker.com, it comes to my regular email address and when I respond, Gmail automatically responds from ken@frugalnetworker.com. Nice, very nice.

Gmail has several other features that are not only essential but unheard of in a free product: Google Groups, Google Docs, YouTube, Google+, Gtalk, attachment sensor, forwarding, POP and IMAP features for your regular mail clients, vacation responder, multiple email addresses, autoresponse from received email address, domain management, the ability to star or label emails, prioritized emails, searching, ever-increasing space, separation of Notifications, regular mail, Promotions, and Social updates, and an extremely effective SPAM filter to name a few.

The company where my wife works uses Gmail for Business and they love it too. So, the question about changing to another email service is purely rhetorical.

It's an interesting question, though. I think that some people hate Google for a variety of reasons and I'm sure they feel justified in their hate. But hating Gmail holds no substance. If you can find something better, go for it. There's no perfect email application but if you believe that you've found it in some other service, please use it.

My guess is that you can't find something better. And yes, I'm including the dissenters on ZDNet in that bucket o' awesome. Here's the funnier thing to me: Railing against Google and Gmail might get them some pageviews but I bet secretly those same dissenters use Gmail when no one's looking. 

As I stated in my closing argument, I use some Google things, some Microsoft things, some Apple things, and some Linux things. I haven't found that many products that are worthy of absolute hate*.

Gmail has served me well for a decade. I'm sorry that some people don't like it. You can't make everyone happy. And you know me well enough to know that if I didn't like it, I'd say so. Gmail is a great service provided by a great company. Don't let the naysayers deter you. Try it for yourself. There's no business like show-it-to-yourself business.

*OK, there's one exception to that but I'll leave that for another time. And, no, it isn't really personal, it's professional. The products are just garbage. And by garbage, I mean, insert your own derogatory synonym there. I prefer to keep it clean as some high school classes read my posts. Big 'up' to mah peeps at Memorial High School. Go Chargers!

Related Stories:

Topics: Google, Google Apps


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Credibility

    Since you 'never used anything else since making the change', how can you possibly provide an objective opinion about Gmail alternatives?

    Similarly, how could you 'ever found anything that has come close to delivering what I need for an email clients if you've not spent the time to try out alternatives?
    • @bitcrazed

      I have tried other email systems. None have made me move. I've checked out alternatives but have stuck with Gmail. And, who says that I need to be objective?
      • I like Gmail's usability, but...

        if the NSA has access to it, like the NSA has access to Outlook mail, that could convince me to move to a different email provider (not sure what else, though, I'll keep looking).
        • Not the NSA

          The Issue here is not the NSA. We all know what they are capable of and Google or Microsoft have nothing to do with that. They can and they will find out about you. It's frustrating but If you don't have anything to hide, it's not that bad. The issue here is Google's business model. Google systematically read your email and cloud drive content to sell. to third parties, information about you, or to advertise directly to you, your contacts or your Google+ relations. And that, for me, is all it takes for not using, whenever it is possible, any Google services, including their excellent search.

          The main problem here is that we are knowingly giving tons of personal information to Google, a company founded only 15 years ago without knowing what are their profound intentions. Everything seems nice right now. I must admit that most Googles services, OS and devices are charming, convincing but, in 20 years from now, can we get a guarantee that this private company will still have a well intentioned Ceo or board? Will it still be a free world company? Because, if they don't, they'll know every single things about every single human being. The government knows a lot about us. To me, it is still acceptable considering the trust we put in this institution. It's been around for centuries and a constitution is there to protect us. Google's constitution for now is to make money now and make sure they will make even more in the future. And for that, knowledge about you and I is its guarantee. What is the value of you personal info? You decide.

          I can understand that many people use Google products and services without fear. As I said, Google's products and services are top notch. Well, most of them. But I sometime wonder where will this gets us ? Is it too late? In a near future, Google will get into banking with some kind of a virtual card. They probably know about our income right now from reading your email and transaction receipts, cumulating your new car or home search. They know about your friends and relation incomes also. They know about your interests, your dreams and maybe about you perversion. Mixing money and personal information can be a disaster.

          To be honest, I have no clue about where is Microsoft heading also. They will have a new Ceo soon and things can go very wrong. But I do know one thing by experience. I am a Microsoft Partner program subscriber (I work in IT), I am a MSDN subscriber, I have a couple of Windows computers skydrive, outlook, accounts. I also have bought products from the Microsoft store. Every time I interact with them, by email, by phone or even when I use my Outlook account, It seems like they know nothing about me. Maybe, their services don't share information. It reminds be about the time where my Canadian government didn't share any information about a citizen from one ministry to another. I like it that way. Google is in a grey zone for me. Gmail.....i'll pass
          • Stop the eavesdropping, move to a secure provider

            I've used all the main email providers.

            But I'll ditch them all if they are giving back doors to the NSA.

            Reader 'gbouchard99' claims: "If you don't have anything to hide, it's not that bad."

            That's not true. A government that spies on its citizens is bad for democracy. It is your right to go about your daily life without the government spying on everything you do, and rifling through your emails and documents.

            I'd be interested to know if the NSA scandal has encouraged any new companies to set up secure email systems. They'd have to be located outside the USA, in countries with better privacy laws.

            The NSA scandal is bad for the US economy, as it is destructive to companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook that are subject to NSA influence.
          • France, Germany, Russia, China, Korea, Spain, UK...

            All do the same thing.
        • Right. Claim that the NSA has access to Outlook, but not gmail

          so hopefully you can scare people away from an MS offering.

          In other words, head to head, you don't believe that gmail has what it takes to win over users from other offerings.
          • No need to scare them...

            They should already be scared.

            MS does at least as much scanning of mail as it does scouring your system to verify it is "legal".

            And they already were found out for stealing queries to google for themselves.
          • This is false.

            Stop spreading FUD.
      • How could any make you move if you have never tried them?

        "I received an invitation to use it from a friend of mine and I've never used anything else since making the change."

        Is that a true or untrue statement?
      • @khess

        Apparently you didn't really try Outlook.com.

        Also why on earth should I tolerate Google scanning my email and profiling me to push adverts?
        • Not any different than MS

          wanting to know what applications you run, how you use your system, or what you are up to.

          Actually, Google is less intrusive. You have a choice to use or not use Google services... You use Windows and your entire system is open to Microsoft.
          • Opt out

            You can opt out of targeted ads. The reality is any place you go, they will keep tabs on you- grocery store, box store, etc. I don't trust a marketing company disguised as a search engine, OS, email provider, etc. Their core business is to sell ads. I don't support that. If Microsoft or any other company is willing to make less off my personal, private data that they have access to, I'm going to support that.
          • If you use a windows machine...

            I've heard google also offer desktop computing... Chromebooks probably send much less info to google...
      • @khess

        You're contradicting yourself. That diminishes your credibility.

        And you're happily peddling openly biased opinion pieces rather than informed journalism?

        And you want to be taken seriously?

    • it's called expereience

      you don't have try outlook.com, it's enough to refresh all those good memories associated with the Microsoft to extrapolate on other creations (no Nostradamus talent is required ;-)). And BTW, one can at least catch a liar on a number of brazen things. Usually, if a source is messy with his/her facts there is a big red button flashing right there for me.

      It wasn't Google who started and all this tarnishing, it was Microsoft who seems to have been obsessed with Google and its success. The so called Ballmer's disease, the "chair hurtling syndrome", you know...
      • Sadly, your fear of MS has you looking at things biasedly

        so you'll always come to the wrong conclusion.
        • not a fear

          I'd call it "contempt or disgust". I can look up the Moby Thesaurus for a few other synonyms for you.
  • Outlook.com is miles ahead.

    Privacy must be respected, Gmail doesn't do that or any of Google 'services' , you are forced to sign in to all Google 'services' if you have any Google account, so its not even worth considering in 2013.
    • The Owl of Redmond

      Hello Redmond Owl.

      They feed you at the Redmond campus every day, then you fly around in the night posting on the forums.