Google Apps free edition is what you would normally go for if you wanted to host your own web based email such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Google used to offer a free version of this allowing you to create a limited number of email accounts, each having a 10Gb mailbox limit. This is perfect for small business, clubs and individuals. Other services that are included with Google Apps are on-line calendars, contacts, cloud storage / document collaboration. All of which are accessible via a web browser or your smart phone.
Unfortunately Google has now stopped any new sign ups for their free service. The only option is now to pay for it, $50 per user per year. If you are an existing Google Apps user then you will continue to receive the service for free, for now…
So what to do now?
If all you are after is to host email for free then there is Microsoft’s new Outlook.com. Outlook.com will let you host you own @yourcomain.co.uk the same as Google Apps. Visit Windows Live Admin Centre to get started. You will be able to check you mail from any web browser or smart phone (currently there is no support for IMAP).
There are other on-line services out there for calendar’s such as Zoho’s calendar, and Dropbox for your cloud storage but the only option left if you want to make use of Google’s great features is to pay.