Time to bail from Gmail? Don't be silly

The Great Debate series this week pit me against David Braue for the 'Time to abandon Gmail?' debate question. I said 'No.'
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

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!

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