I’m always amazed at how many people these days still use webmail.

From Gmail to Yahoo Mail, it seems everyone enjoys the convenience of no crappy e-mail program, easily accessible e-mail from any device, and free data storage In the CloudTM.

In the case of Gmail, you can even use the same e-mail account on your smartphone. Yay, even more data for Google!

Naturally, there are huge drawbacks to the webmail approach, the biggest of which is privacy.

From Day One, webmail has been hoovering up all kinds of data. Recently, the world discovered that – duh – it’s worse than we think!

The Olden Days

In the olden days, you probably used the likes of Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, or Thunderbird on your puter in order to send and receive e-mail.

This was actually a pretty good deal, because your mail lived on your puter.

Then, Gmail was released.

Behold: Webmail for All!

If you’ve read Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine, then you are aware of the fact that from the very beginning, Gmail was a way to suck up all kinds of new data on users.

That data was linked to any searches you made in Google Search.

The huge 1GB of mail storage space came for free, but it still had a price: All of your e-mail was “inspected” by Google, as well as all the e-mails (and e-mail addresses) of those who sent mail to you.

Obviously, this was a huge source of new data. Big Data officially entered the Absurd Stage!

Oh, by the way…

CNBC recently reported that – surprise! – Google is also tracking all receipt e-mails you’ve received to your Gmail account.

You can see for yourself here: Google Account – My Purchases

Here’s what mine looks like:

Oooh! Too bad… 🙁

I have a Gmail account, but I don’t use it for much. I also have a very old Yahoo Mail account, which I also don’t use for much, either.

That means it’s very hard for anyone to suck up all kinds of data on me – at least via e-mail or my old, rarely-used smartphone. No one but me is storing e-mails that are sent or received by me.

What a concept!

What to do

Of course, I manage the servers on which my e-mail accounts live, so I KNOW the data is not being stored… because I’m not storing it!

Still, most e-mail providers (like e-mail provided by your ISP) offer IMAP, POP3, and SMTP access.

That means you should be able to find mail client settings on their help pages.

Then, all you need is your login/password, those mail client settings, and a nice free mail program like Mozilla Thunderbird.

No, Tbird isn’t exactly the greatest, but it does let you configure it to delete mail from the server after you download it (Account -> Server settings -> Leave messages on server option)

Note that you can also simply download your Gmail into a mail program like Tbird, but why on Earth would you want to do that?

If it goes through Google’s servers, it’s stored forever and harvested for juicy data.

If you’d like to get a bit more crazy/secure, you can try a nice secure e-mail service like that offered by Unseen.is.

At the very least, do yourself a favor: Get a mail program and use a non-Cloud e-mail address!

It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the likes of Gmail.

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