from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Logo from web.de
description Portal, search engine and email service
owner 1 & 1 Mail & Media GmbH
Published 1995

Web.de is a German Internet portal founded in 1995 , which started as an editorially managed web directory and was gradually expanded to include communication services. In 2005, Web.de was the web portal with the widest reach according to industry information and was overall in second place behind T-Online .

Business model

The business model of Web.de GmbH is based on the two pillars of online advertising and digital services. The latter includes, for example, the Web.de Club , a subscription for communication services. As part of the strengthening of the online advertising pillar, Ad Europe was founded in 2004, a network of several web portals that now has members in 60 countries. However, online advertising is mainly placed in emails .

The best-known Web.de product is the free e-mail service FreeMail , which can be expanded with the aforementioned Web.de Club for a fee and which included unified messaging functions early on . This means that in addition to e-mails, faxes and voice messages can also be received and sent via a separate number range (with the area code 03212 ).


The brothers Michael and Matthias Greve founded Cinetic Medientechnik GmbH . The company dealt with media technology for the cinema . Web.de was spun off from this company in January 1999, and it went public in February 2000 . In June 2000, Web.de integrated the previously independent advertising agency Websolute New Media AG 100% into its consortium and expanded its offer to include e-commerce and customer service for the B2B sector. Customers included: B. Siemens , BASF or the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics . Founders Urs Keller and Lars Bauer initially remained in the company as managers, but left Web.de in 2004 to found the new company Solute GmbH . This operates the price comparison portal Billiger.de .

In 1995 the German Internet Directory went online with 2500 entries that had been edited. In the years that followed, the portal was expanded to include additional services, with some (such as a “trust center” for chargeable email addresses) being discontinued. In October 2002 Web.de AG introduced the Com.Win Internet telephony service to "revolutionize telephony". Moderate subscriber numbers and sales that fell far short of expectations meant that Com.Win was no longer developed after two years and the design of a successor product began. This successor product ComBOTS was presented to the public in July 2006.

In May 2005 the Federal Cartel Office approved the takeover of the web portal in the form of Web.de GmbH , a full subsidiary of Web.de AG, by United Internet AG . The purchase price was 330 million euros, 130 million of which was in shares. With effect from October 31, 2005, United Internet AG and Web.de AG completed the announced transaction.

The old owner Web.de AG operates - after Intermezzi as ComBOTS AG and Kizoo AG - meanwhile as Atevia AG . After a squeeze-out, their shares have been 100% owned by Cinetic Gesellschaft für Entwicklung und Vertrieb von Medientechnik GmbH since August 2016 , which was accompanied by the AG's withdrawal from the stock exchange.

On December 8th, 2006 Web.de announced the discontinuation of the Internet telephony service Web.de Freephone on December 22nd. The customers were advised to switch to the in-house counterpart of GMX.

In August 2010, Web.de GmbH changed its name to 1 & 1 Mail & Media GmbH , under whose roof GMX is also managed. The Web.de brand was retained.

In 2013, Web.de was accredited as a service provider for De-Mail by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) .

In August 2015, Web.de integrated the option of secure end-to-end encryption of e-mail communication based on the recognized PGP standard . In order to keep the usage as simple and accessible as possible, the encryption on the desktop PC is implemented by an adapted version of the free OpenPGP software Mailvelope . The Web.de Mail app for iOS and Android automatically has the PGP extension for use on mobile devices, so that the user can encrypt and decrypt with all common end devices.

In summer 2016, Web.de, together with the other De-Mail services of United Internet, was the first European service provider to be certified by TÜViT and the Federal Network Agency according to the eIDAS regulation of the European Union. Since then, Web.de has been a qualified trust service provider for electronic delivery services in Europe.

At the end of 2017, Web.de also expanded its online storage to include an option for secure end-to-end encryption . Data is encrypted on the user's device and transferred to the online storage via a secure transport path, where it is stored as an illegible character string in a special vault folder. The encryption is based on the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with a key length of 256 bits. Encryption and decryption are carried out on the user's device. Separate safe software is installed for use on the PC. This is an individually adapted version of the open source program Cryptomator . The vault functionality is also integrated into the Web.de Mail app for iOS and Android to give the user access to their securely encrypted data while on the move. In developing the safe software, Web.de worked closely with Skymatic, the manufacturer of Cryptomator.

In May 2019, Stiftung Warentest published a test of a total of eleven free cloud offers in the test magazine under the title “Cloud services: The convenient way”. The WEB.DE online memory was awarded the overall rating of “Good (2.0)” as the test winner. In the results report, the auditors particularly emphasized the flawless and transparent terms and conditions of use and business conditions, free end-to-end encryption and data storage exclusively in German data centers .

On May 21, 2019, a new logo for web.de was presented as part of a design update . Instead of the previous oval, which has been part of the previous logo for over 20 years, a single-colored square with rounded corners now forms the background for the silhouette of the Brandenburg Gate .



The three-month free Web.de Club membership advertised as a gift campaign was forbidden to Web.de because of misleading eye-catching advertising with seamlessly subsequent paid subscription: On March 18, 2009, the Koblenz Higher Regional Court filed a lawsuit against Web.de by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations ( VZBV ) instead of. The judgment became final. Another lawsuit before the Koblenz Regional Court in a largely identical case was also granted on June 25, 2009.

In August 2012, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations issued a warning against Web.de because the association saw the button solution (in accordance with Section 312g BGB ) not being implemented correctly. Web.de had adopted the designation “order with payment” for the order button, but important parts of the contract were not placed directly next to it, so that customers were not informed about the consequences of the order. The warning was also directed at the GMX brand .

The fall of 2010 caused a sensation when a debt collection agency was called in to collect a claim against a minor who allegedly had taken out a subscription. Web.de's methods of collecting outstanding bills from members are, according to some lawyers and consumer advocates, on the verge of legality.

Toolbar (browser extension)

Web.de offers a toolbar called MailCheck for the web browser so that customers are immediately informed about incoming e-mails. In fact, this browser extension overwrites the settings made by the user for the desired homepage and search engine with Web.de. In addition, in the case of incorrectly entered addresses, reference is also made to Web.de. These changes are difficult or impossible to turn off. Even after removing the toolbar, parts of the program remain in the browser. The Web.de search engine is the Google search service, but inquiries are made via Web.de. As a result of this and the installation of such a toolbar, the publisher is able to understand every search query or web address called up and thereby learn further personal details about the customers.


Web.de has been criticized for many years for the strict size restriction of the mailbox in the free e-mail offer, which should induce a fee-based expansion. In February 2000, the storage space was increased to eight megabytes, later to twelve megabytes with a simultaneous restriction to 500 messages in the mailbox. In November 2014, the storage space for existing and new customers was expanded to 1 GB and the limit on the number of messages was lifted. Between November 2014 and mid-December 2019, the available memory could also be permanently increased to 10,000 MB (10 GB) and the maximum number of stored messages to "Unlimited", provided that the installation of the WEB.DE-MailCheck toolbar (see above) agree. In the spring of 2013 there was an option to permanently increase the online memory by four gigabytes each by installing a corresponding access program on a mobile phone and on a Windows computer.

Alternative sender addresses can also be set up for third-party providers using the "collective service" function at WEB.DE.

The homepage of Web.de apparently presents the latest news. Often, however, the headlines for reports are sensational and factually incorrect, which makes it actually a tabloid medium. For example, Web.de reported on the afternoon of October 4, 2013 that Berlusconi had to give up his senatorial seat, even though a plenary decision by the Italian Senate still had to be made at that time.

Another point of criticism is the way Web.de treats users who do not have Internet access via a German IP address. This applies both to customers who use the free e-mail offer and to those who use the Web.de Club membership that is subject to a fee. If you want to use the advertised "Web.de Club SmartFax" as a user outside of Germany, you will only find out after installation and when you try to use it for the first time: "Unfortunately, this service is currently only available for members in Germany." the advertised "two lifelong non-contributory credit cards with discounts on your online purchases and when filling up".


The Web.de logo adorns a stylized image of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.


  • B.TV (private television station, discontinued)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Web.de takes over Websolute New Media. June 30, 2000, Retrieved August 4, 2012 .
  2. Ingrid Weidner: "We were all so naive". In: Computerwoche. August 9, 2001, accessed August 4, 2012 .
  3. Web.de discontinues VoIP service FreePhone. In: Teltarif. December 8, 2006, accessed January 28, 2008 .
  4. ^ Detlef Borchers: Progress at De-Mail. In: heise.de. Retrieved February 11, 2019 .
  5. Axel Kossel: Web.de and GMX introduce PGP encryption for mail. In: heise online. August 20, 2015, accessed February 11, 2019 .
  6. Detlef Borchers: Electronic Signature Ordinance eIDAS has started - what's next? In: heise online. July 2, 2016, accessed February 11, 2019 .
  7. Detlef Berger: GMX and Web.de offer encrypted cloud storage. In: heise online. November 27, 2017, accessed February 11, 2019 .
  8. Stiftung Warentest: Cloud services in the test - The test winner comes from Germany - Stiftung Warentest. Retrieved April 26, 2019 .
  9. ^ Matthias Kremp: Stiftung Warentest: The best clouds come from Germany . In: SPIEGEL Online . April 24, 2019 ( spiegel.de [accessed April 26, 2019]).
  10. WEB.DE online storage is test winner at Stiftung Warentest. April 24, 2019, accessed April 26, 2019 .
  11. Brand refresh for WEB.DE: clear shapes, fresh design. May 21, 2019, accessed May 21, 2019 .
  12. OLG Koblenz, judgment of March 18, 2009, Az. 4 U 1173/08, full text .
  13. Misleading gift advertising for web.de Club membership. In: consumer advice center. March 18, 2009, accessed December 26, 2011 .
  14. Web.de convicted again for misleading loyalty campaign. In: consumer advice center. June 25, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2011 .
  15. Urs Mansmann: Consumer advocates warn GMX and Web.de. In: Heise Online. August 28, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2012 .
  16. Upside down world - contract with a minor. In: c't. September 11, 2010, accessed November 22, 2010 .
  17. Birthday present from web.de - read first, then unpack! ( Memento of March 3, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  18. Diana Kossack: Web.de: Delete toolbar - that's how it works. In: Helpster. Retrieved December 9, 2013 .
  19. Web.de extends freemail service. In: Heise Online. February 7, 2000, accessed January 28, 2008 .
  20. 1000 MB for FreeMail users. In: WEB.DE. 2013, accessed April 11, 2014 .
  21. Berlusconi has to give up his senatorial seat ( Memento from April 10, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  22. Spiegel Online from October 4, 2013: Senate committee votes for Berlusconi's expulsion

Coordinates: 48 ° 59 '59.5 "  N , 8 ° 23' 8.6"  E