Have you ever opened your email inbox only to find that a message you sent to an old friend (say, something important like you’re getting married, expecting your first child and/or need bail money) was bounced back into your inbox with a Failure Notice: “126.96.36.199 does not like recipient,” meaning your friend never received the email?
Holding out hope, you try sending the message again with the same result. Then you realize that sending an email was the only way you had of contacting her and that unless she gets in touch with you, you just lost a friend. “Why can’t everyone be on Facebook?” you think, as you wonder if you’ll ever get back in touch with your friend again.
Having had this exact issue happen to me when some of my friends moved away from England, I have become a firm believer in email for life (okay, maybe some people want to disappear intentionally, but that’s not today’s topic). What is email for life? It’s an email address you can keep no matter which Internet provider you use, where you live or what computer you use.
Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon in the US, offer their customers “free” email accounts when signing up for Internet service. (Internet providers aren’t necessarily being generous. Many customers don’t want to switch Internet providers because they don’t want to lose their email addresses, so providing an email account to customers is an effective marking tool for these companies.) Plenty of people eagerly take advantage of this offer and immediately open a new email account when they sign up for a new Internet provider, then send all of their friends their new email address:
and ask them to delete their old email address:
The problem with having an email account through your Internet provider is the very real possibility that when you change your Internet provider:
a) the email to your 200+ contacts informing them of your new email address goes into their spam folders,
b) they miss your message, their inbox being flooded with 1000 spam messages on that particular day, or
c) they think they’ll get around to changing your email address in their contacts list later, never do, and accidentally delete your message.
Another very real problem is that changing Internet providers often happens when you move to a new home in a far away place. You have a very long to-do list and sending people notice of your new email address is toward the bottom of the list, just below getting Fido a new dog tag.
So you decide to wait until you’re comfortably settled in your new home before tackling these issues. Except getting settled takes quite a bit longer than you thought it would and when you’ve finally made your way to the bottom of your to-do list you suddenly realize you can’t access your old email account. You can’t retrieve your contact list or any saved emails from friends either. You can’t even send them an email to let them know that you’re having this issue.
An easy way to avoid these problems is by signing up for email with one of the free email service providers, such as Google, Yahoo or Hotmail. The advantages of these services are many, with the most important one being that you will have an email address that will follow you no matter which Internet provider you use, where you live or from which computer you access your email.
You can send your friends a “once and for all” email letting them know that your new email where you can be found from now on. That’s it. Done. You have an email address for life and never have to switch again. Great for you and for your friends. (Again, please disregard this if you wish to conveniently burn some awkward bridges and disappear from everyone you have ever known at various phases in your life).
Other advantages include:
- unlimited (or nearly unlimited) storage so if you don’t get around to cleaning out your inbox, no problem;
- easy access to your emails and contact list from your cell phone or other mobile device (because honestly, someday you probably will get a smartphone);
- better organization of your inbox (stay tuned for a future discussion on organizing your inbox); and
- keeping your contact list forever (though after a while you might wonder who some of these people are).
“Sounds great,” you’re thinking. “I’ll have to do that someday, when I have free time.” Nope. Do it today. Right now. It doesn’t take much time at all to set up a new email address and then send out an email letting your friends know of your new email address. I’ll help. Here are the links to the three email providers mentioned above:
Don’t know which one to choose? Here is a link to a comparison of various email providers: Comparison of Webmail Providers.
Here’s the text you can copy and paste into your email: “Hey, I decided to get a new email for life so after you change my email address to this one, you will never have to do it again. I promise.” Done. See, wasn’t that easy?
Should you care which email providers are “hot”? Yes and no. If an email provider is hot, that probably means that the email service works well and has lots of handy functions you might find useful. Should you care because having a hot email address makes you cool? No.
If you’re excited about the idea of switching email providers, but trying to decide between Gmail and AOL, make sure to watch this important video:
If your email provider is also your Internet provider, it’s time to change to an email for life. What may seem like an effort now will pay off in the long run by allowing you to keep your email address no matter which Internet provider you choose.
Is your email provider also your Internet provider? Do you have a friend who switches email accounts every time she gets a new Internet provider? Let us know in the Comments section below!
* Image by Sean MacEntee
** Image courtesy of Ramberg Media Images via Flickr and Creative Commons