Changing e-mail providers can feel intimidating, especially if you've had the same e-mail address for years. As free, web-hosted e-mail providers beef up their available services; many people are ditching paid services for free options. Making the switch doesn't have to be difficult, and often you can import contacts and forward e-mails from your old POP 3 provider. Decide what features you want in your new e-mail provider and establish a new address before you ditch your old one to avoid missing out on any e-mail correspondence.
Research providers to find one that suits your needs. Free web-hosted e-mail is available through many sources, such as Yahoo!, MSN Hotmail, Google's Gmail and AOL. These providers offer adequate features and storage for the typical user, and also offer upgraded account services for increased storage space or business e-mail services.
Sign up for new service with your chosen provider. Web-e-mail set-up is generally user friendly and step by step on-screen instructions are provided. You will create a user name and a secure password during this step.
Import your e-mail contacts from your old provider, if desired. Some providers can perform this service automatically, depending on your old provider's settings. You may have to add contacts manually.
Forward any important old e-mail correspondence from your old address to your new one, or save them to your computer.
Visit any websites, online services or other sources of important e-mail correspondence and change the email address associated with your account to your new e-mail address. Remember social networking sites and electronic bills.
Close your old e-mail account by contacting your former service provider. If the old account is going to remain open, you may be able to forward any e-mail received at the old address to the new one.
If your old e-mail account was hacked or compromised, use a new, more complex password for your new provider.