Risks of Depending on Free Online Reminder Services

Over the past five years, I have searched for and twice come up with free online reminder services. One worked perfectly for several years: Free-minder.com and then, following its sudden, unannounced demise, I began using MyEmailReminders.com. I reviewed the Free-minder service over three years ago while I was using it and was quite pleased with it. That was before it suddenly vanished. I then found MyEmailReminders which performed the same “here today – gone tomorrow” routine about two years later.

In both instances, the programs had what I needed. Both allowed for dates, details and reminders sent via chosen email addresses at whatever frequency best served the need of the user. Give each of those links a try and you will immediately see what I mean. Neither logo is still registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office and neither service is currently in operation.

Each went belly-up. Neither took the trouble to notify its end users and in both instances long lists of birthdays and important appointments had to be recreated. The suggestion, after being badly burned twice, is to stick to a mainstream reminder program (the one built into Outlook, if you use that Microsoft program), or ones built into YAHOO and other proprietary email clients if you don’t. Mozilla’s Thunderbird (the email companion to Firefox) has one, for example as I am certain many others do.

Reminder services that are integrated features of multi-part programs are more likely no be there on the day you really needed to be reminded of something!

The risk is in using ANY free-standing reminder program which is dependent upon revenues from advertising placed on their site. Many/most of these fail over time and the poor user is left with feelings of abandonment, betrayal and a sudden attack of anxiety trying to recover the things they had trusted these programs to remember for and remind them of.

There are many other free reminder programs still available as free versions of paid programs online. These probably stand a better chance of enduring as their paid versions pay the bills as is the case with EfficientReminder.com . The risk is still present but is somewhat reduced.

Many businesses fail. This is neither surprising nor irritating as a rule. However, to simply vanish after tens of thousands of people have been lured into a functionally dependent relationship is both rude and unprofessional. It is as though you had regular employment somewhere and went to the office to find the door padlocked and the business closed. No notices, no severance pay and no explanation. This has, of course, actually happened but unlike programs marketed as being free, a job involved the exchange of work for pay.

Web browsers are, of course, free and for the most part quite reliable. The issue is programs offered to provide specific functions that are reliant on placed advertising like these free reminder programs.

These email reminder services, which appear to have been such welcome innovations, have behaved in a way which casts doubt upon the ultimate security and dependability of ANY program that is not warrantied. Generally, free ones are not. No one stands behind them whether they are offered by major software manufacturers as ‘finished’ products or they are ‘open source’ and allow for users to add and alter the software themselves.

As people become increasingly frustrated with the monolithic presence of our friends in Redmond, WA (Microsoft) and seek alternatives to their Office Suite, programs like OpenOffice is available and thought well of by many users), the lesson of freeminder.com and myemailreminders.com must not be forgotten.

There still are many good free things available online. Some are worthwhile and remain functional over time (some utilities like CCleaner and Free Windows Registry Repair are among those I have used reliably for years.) However, when it comes to reminder programs, the caution is caveat emptor especially when the “buyer” didn’t have to pay anything for it.

You know the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I am ashamed that I fell for it twice and will certainly not do so again. It is never too late to learn.

There are virtually uncountable programs, services and sources of information available on the World Wide Web. Some are available for a fee and some are still free. The old saw comes to mind, “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.” No always, but often and probably.

There is risk in everything. Life, itself, is risk. But through our own experiences and those of others, we may become better able to assess specific risks and more thoughtfully assess which ones we are ready and willing to take.

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