Gmail is the New Black: Why You Should be Using Gmail Right Now

Do you use Gmail or some other web-based program, or are you still accessing email strictly on your computer, cursing Outlook, and praying for the sweet, sweet release that death a hard drive crash will bring? Do you have a backup of your address book and necessary emails, should that blessed day ever come?

When I give a social media talk, I tell everyone to use Gmail for basic contact management. It has saved my bacon more than once, and I’ve become such a raving fan that I use it as my only email interface. I even forward my work email and other addresses into Gmail, so I have one window, one set of contacts, and the cleanest, least buggy interface I’ve ever had the joys of using. I can send email from any of my addresses, but the interface is all Gmail.

The joys of Gmail

If you’re not using Gmail yet, here are a few reasons why you need to:

  • Social network building Any social network you join is going to have a way to import your address book into the network so you can see if your friends are on there. Gmail is the easiest one to bring in. Some networks don’t even import web-mail programs like Hotmail. Others are a little more forgiving and will let you import Apple Mail, Outlook and Outlook Express, and comma-delimited CSV files.
  • Offsite storage of your contact list Let’s say that your work computer crashes, and you lose everything. Or you are, um, no longer allowed to. . . access your work computer due to a new arrangement you have with your now-former employer, and you need to let your friends and colleagues in other companies know about your new work situation. Having a copy of your address book in your control will make this a lot easier. You can even sync Gmail with Outlook, so any time you change or add a record, that is reflected in the other. Warning: some solutions will split up multi-email records, and then sync all those brand new records into Gmail. I had that happen twice, after I spent hours cleaning them up.
  • Emergency access If you ever need to reach people over the weekend or in the evening, but your computer is at work, you can still do so. This is especially important for people in crisis communication whose organizations are still planted firmly in 1997. If you’re counting on your email server and your email list to be available if you need to do a press release or media alert, you’re totally hosed if that thing ever crashes because of a large-scale disaster. When I was in crisis communication, we had to come up with some plan to work around just that contingency. And if you’re in the middle of an emergency, and you can’t get access to your email server, you need another solution. There are so many workarounds to getting online, as long as you can get there, you can communicate. But if you’re depending on one computer’s data, forget it.
  • Enterprise email You can even use Gmail for business. For $50 per user per year, you can get 25 MB of storage per user, plus it syncs with Outlook and Blackberry. (For the record, I can also sync my personal email with my HTC Droid.) You keep your corporate identity and addresses, but you have the security and ease of use of Google’s email, calendar, and Docs.

What about you? Why do you use Gmail (or your favorite web-mail application)? Why should people switch to web-mail from computer mail? Or, why shouldn’t they?

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency in Indianapolis, IN. He co-authored three social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (2nd ed., 2012; Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.

    Comments

    1. Unfortunately Erik doesn’t seem to have used Outlook with Exchange .You can use it from anywhere. I agree with Robby . Outlook + Exchange and now you can get unlimited mailbox on hosted exchange via many providers for 10 $ a month which is not much more than gmail apps. Gmail is cute and nice but Outlook still gets it done. Assingn real world projects requiring heavy mail use and time yourself… outlook /exchnage will prevail by far.

    2. Erik – Unfortunately, Gmail’s HTML/Javascript based GUI is too slow to keep up with the 3,400 email per day average I get. I’ve switched over to Opera because it works like Gmail, but has the advantage of downloading and operating locally. It also features filter rules that are simply incredible. I can get through an entire day’s email in about 20 minutes without missing a beat. It gives the advantages of Gmail (tag/search based structure instead of folders) with the thick client edge (speed + OS integration) that Robby is talking about. Because Opera uses a file system based store for messages, it’s fast and when disaster strikes, you might corrupt one message. It also works with Mac and Linux clients.

    3. Actually, the best solution is Outlook + Exchange.

      Unlike Gmail, you can use Outlook in disconnected mode out of the box. (It’s possible to do this with Google Gears, but it’s still experimental at best)

      Unlike Gmail, you get the complete power of your desktop. Want to attach a file? No annoying browse-button-navigate-your-drive-attach. Just drag and drop! Want to save an email on your own computer? Drag and drop!

      Unlike Gmail, you get both the advantage of the cloud and your local computer. So if your hard drive crashes, you can resync. If the server crashes, you can resync. With Google, you just might become one of the unlucky ones who loses all their email without warning.

      It’s true that you can use Gmail from anywhere. But you can use Outlook + Exchange from anywhere with Outlook Web Access! In fact, there’s no mail platform which has support for more devices than Exchange.

      Outlook has *rules.* You can customize what Outlook does with every message. For example, if you want to make sure that every message which contains the words “PROJECT 213” is also forwarded to your boss, Outlook can do that. Gmail can’t.

      It’s certainly possible that in the future, Gmail will be as good as Outlook. The release of Google Chrome is a big step ahead. But for now, it’s just not possible to have the level of interactivity and operating system interaction inside the browser that you can have in a true desktop app. Outlook + Exchange rules!
      .-= Robby Slaughter´s last blog ..Productive Networking =-.

    4. Great post Erik. I use Gmail in exactly the same ways you mentioned above, almost to a T. I drink the Google juice for sure but it rarely lets me down. Hopefully I can get the company switched over to Google for Business in the near future.

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    4. uberVU - social comments says:

      Social comments and analytics for this post…

      This post was mentioned on Twitter by bengiordano: I use it already, but if you don’t here are some reasons: Why You Should be Using Gmail Right Now http://bit.ly/ajkOrI.