I am sure many readers have a Google account and probably using Gmail as their primary email app. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I use Gmail too.
Gmail is powerful, both from the web browser and from the desktop and mobile apps. The strength of Gmail is obviously the search function and its integration with other Google’s app such as calendar, keep, maps, etc. Users coming from Outlook may take some time to get used to the ‘label’ concept versus folder. In fact, I do not even have to use label at all. Its powerful search function will let me find the email I want just by using the right combination of keywords. This has saved me so much time to organise my folders. I used to spend half a day every week to move emails from the Outlook inbox into the correct folders. The Outlook rules helped a bit but I still have to do the heavy lifting.
Why I use Fmail (Fastmail.com)
There is one big drawback of using Gmail. You may not get an email address that reflects your identity. So many times I have received emails from firstname.lastname@example.org. It just does not appear to be professional, especially if you use that for business related communication.
This is where your own domain name plays the big part. As an example, I use my domain fuzzygel.com for my blog. I set up my email addresses as email@example.com. It looks great to the recipients of the emails, right?
You can connect the Google email system to your own domain but only if you pay for using the Google workplace (used to called GSuite).
For me I choose to use Fastmail.com instead. While sometimes it is great to remain in the Google eco-system, I do not want Google to know too much about me. Using Fastmail’s service circumvents that. The Fastmail features are almost as good as Gmail. Some features may even be better. Fastmail has their own Android and IOS app, but there is no native Mac or Windows app. On my Mac, I use Fmail, which is fast and efficient. I actually prefer that than using Gmail on the Mac. The appearance is really eye pleasing. It is also a free app.
Security and antispam features
One reason for retaining Gmail as one of my primary email addresses is because of its security strength. I have enrolled the Advance Protection Program for my Gmail address. It is the highest level of cybersecurity protection that I know that is offered for free. To do that, I have to enable 2-factor authentication. I cannot use 3rd party app to connect to my Gmail account (except Apple Mail). With this level of protection, I reserve my Gmail for critical communication, such as with banks, government agencies, etc. I am less worried that my Gmail account would be stolen, hacked or hijacked. However, this comes with some inconvenience. I was prepared for this, as I understand the need to balance between convenience and security.
Fastmail enables another feature. Coupled with 1Password (optional), Fastmail gives me the convenience of setting up masked email easily. Masked email works like disposable email addresses. With the help of 1Password, I gain a lot more liberty to sign up for new newsletters, new trials on the Internet without worrying that I get spammed. If I receive any spam emails from any services, I can just block them or even delete that particular masked email.
setting up and management
Setting up a new Gmail (Google Account) is straightforward. There is no ongoing management requires apart from managing labels and rules. If you want to enrol the Advance Protection Program, it is mandatory to set up 2-factor authentication, which I would strongly recommend regardless.
However, if you decide to have your own domain name, it is a bit more involved. Obviously, you need to buy the domain name from a service provider. If you are not using the email service from the same provider, then you have to configure the domain to work with the 3rd party email service provider.
I would not suggest this for most users unless you want to roll up your sleeves and get under the hood to configure the domain DNS, the IMAP / SMTP settings, PKS & DKIM and DMARC policy, etc, etc. For those who are interested, please refer to this site to make sure you set up your domain correctly.
I have done all that with my Fastmail service and I connect to my domain fuzzygel.com. I enjoy doing that and I learn a lot along the way.
If you want convenience, straightforward and fail-safe email system, choose Gmail (or other similar services, such as hotmail.com, yahoo mail, etc). However, keep in mind of the data mining that these service providers will use on your personal data.
If you are more technically oriented and want to have email addresses link to your the domain name of your choice, then either you can buy a package from the domain seller (such as Bluehost, Dreamhost, GoDaddy, etc) , or set up a 3rd party email service like Fastmail and connect to your domain name. Using Google Workspace will also give you that feature, combining with the benefits of Gmail like convenience.