Chicago, Welcome to Sevenforums!
For free, I would use live mail: Windows Live Essentials: Other Programs
(Click the mail tab to learn more about it)
Paid, I would use outlook 2010. Outlook 2013 will be coming out shortly.
I would never use MSN, but that is just personal preference.
Hotmail is secure, but because it is so large, more hackers try to compromise it than other less used services.