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The best email provider is to just do it yourself. If you already have at least a VPS and a domain name, this is a piece of cake to configure and well-documented online for several popular software options.
I would recommend you to setup a email account with your registered hosting company. They provide you with best email and quality email service. You can also contact them if you are facing any issues with your email services.
It's not free, but runbox.com is what I've been using for the past year or so. I used a special promotion and got the mini plan 2 years for $35 and use my domain name. I used to use Google for everything, but recently decided to go more privacy oriented. The service is hosted offshore in Norway, so it's not subject to USA wiretapping and the like.