Should I use my ISP email address?

Don't use your ISP email address as it can tie you downThe short answer in my opinion is NO!

Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer a free email address as part of your package. The problem with this is that it is tied to the ISP and if you move then you loose your email address and all email that is sent to it!

Sometimes you can be forced to change email address just because you move house, even without changing ISP!

The last thing you want is for an important email to go missing. This happens when you change email addresses, so you don’t want to do that too often, and if you do change then you want to make sure you can still check the old address for a while afterwards.

In this article I’ll cover:

  • Hosted email addresses
  • How to forward your email to another email address
  • The best way to switch from one email address to another

Use a hosted email address

I would suggest using a hosted email address for your personal (and definitely your business email address). A hosted email address could be provided by someone else like Hotmail, MobileMe, GMail, AOL or a number of other big suppliers. You can also host your own email on your own domain if you have one. The advantage of hosting on your own domain is that you have more control over how it is set up and it represents your business more professionally. The disadvantage is that it may require more administration on your part.

Choose a service that allows you to connect securely! Use a reputable supplier who has been around for a while, there is no point using a small supplier that goes out of business as it defeats the whole purpose of having a single reliable email address for a long time. Another thing to consider is whether the supplier includes a good Anti-Spam program automatically to keep your in-box clean.

For my personal email I use Hotmail and GMail. I find Hotmail to be more intuitive, has a good PC client, and has the better filing system. However, try out a couple of the free services and pick the one that suits your needs the best. Then stick to that one as your main personal email address.

For my business email I use my web hosting account as it keeps my personal and business emails separate (although you can still use the forwarding hint below if you just want to check one email address most of the time)

Use forwarding to get important emails from your ISP address

Setting up email forwarding on BTAlmost all email systems let you forward email that you receive to another address. Log onto your ISP email and find the ‘forward’ options. With my BT account I signed onto my email, found the ‘options’ link and it is under POP & Forwarding. I enter the address I want all email forwarded to and then any important messages about my account will come to my main email address. This means I don’t have to log on to my BT account just to see if an email has arrived.

You would also do this if you wanted to stop using any other address. Set up forwarding and then advise all your contacts of your new address. If any emails still come through to the old address you will still receive it and you can send a specific reminder to that person (or if it is a mailing list then change your email address for that mailing list).

Forwarding will only work for as long as you own/subscribe/pay for the old address. I usually try to keep an old address for at least a year to make sure I have caught all the emails that I might care about – some things like annual renewals may only come through once a year.

What to do if you want to change email address

If you are currently using your ISP email address (or just want to change to another address) then this is the process that I follow:

  1. Select your new email provider and email address
  2. Set up forwarding of your old email to your new email
  3. Advise all of your contacts of your new address and ask them to update their address books
    • Log onto any services you use (banking, insurance, eBay, clubs, utility companies, iTunes, Facebook, etc) and update the email address they have on file.
    • Update your subscription to any email lists (some you may need to subscribe and resubscribe but look for an ‘update details’ link or something like that)
    • Go back over old emails to see what you have been receiving and update them if you want to keep them
  4. Now, keep an eye on your old email account and if any important email comes in then you can remind the sender to update their details as you are about to stop using the account.
  5. Depending on the cost/nature of the old account you can close it after a reasonable period of time has passed and you are comfortable that all your contacts have switched to the new address.

As I mentioned above, you should keep the old account for a ‘reasonable’ period of time. This will depend on your circumstances, I usually run the old account for at least 12 months so that I can catch any annual renewals etc. that are still on this account. Depending on the cost of the account you may keep it for much longer but if you have set up forwarding properly then it does not clutter up your life.

If you are thinking about changing ISP or moving house then I would start this process as soon as possible so that the last couple of steps are not cut short by your ISP.

Here’s to always getting the emails you want!

your ‘Peoples Geek’