Gmail is out of control.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 30 years


Gee, mail! What have you done?

March 30, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, The Post-Standard

Great news! Gmail, that wonderful, unerring email service from Google, just got 100 times better. It's faster when it has to be, easier on the eyes when you're tired, totally unconfusing despite its many complications, so reliable you could die and come back to life and it would hold your mail until you're breathing again, so rock-solid that it could not possibly ever, not in a million years, not in a zillion, maybe, ever lose your mail.

April Fools! Everything I just said is a joke!

Yes. Really. Gmail has outlived its cuteness. It's gone long in the tooth. It's been revitalized, revamped and revised a dozen times since Google sprung it on an unsuspecting public exactly 10 years ago.

The problem is simple to explain and no doubt difficult to fix. Gmail is out of control. That's the explanation. The fix? I'd toss out the code and hire someone new to do it all over again.

But Google isn't likely to do that.

Google has always had problems with Gmail, its worldwide, free email service. It has 425 million users, and Google has cut them off, lost their email, deleted the email one step above the one being read when all else seemed OK, unintentionally confused millions of users by making small changes in the way Gmail works, and much, much more.

Early this year Google rolled out an "improved" interface for the web version of its mail. There was no reason to "improve" it, but Google thought it needed to test new ways of doing things. One estimate says 145 million users were left without mail for the busiest part of a work day when the "improved" interface collided with overloaded mail servers.

Why does Google do this? My guess is that Google thinks it's Apple. For decades, Apple abruptly made changes to its hardware and software without checking with users. But during all those years, while Steve Jobs was in charge, Apple had a heart and a conscience. It was always willing to back out of dumb ideas.

Google doesn't seem to have a heart or a conscience. Its main goal is to squeeze personal data from its users, then sell that data to marketing experts.

What can you do? By far the single most effective way to handle Gmail is to stay off the web. Do your Gmail through your computer's email software. Here's how to set it up:

For a Mac -- http://tinyurl.com/kpufl58

For Windows -- site 1: http://tinyurl.com/yhr7rlq

For Windows -- site 2: http://tinyurl.com/bshjhhd

You can also ditch Gmail. Yahoo mail has a lot of fans, although it also has had problems. A search on Google for BEST FREE EMAIL SERVICES will show you other possible choices.