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FlippedBITS: Misconceptions about Changing Email Addresses

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The first email message was sent in 1971. Over the more than four decades since, there has been plenty of time for the technology to evolve and for people to get used to it. Even so, on an almost daily basis I run into people who are doing it wrong, by which I mean making life unnecessarily difficult for themselves and inadvertently advertising facts that may be untrue or misleading.

In “FlippedBITS: IMAP Misconceptions” (11 April 2013), I talked about common misunderstandings about IMAP. Now I want to step back and look at email accounts and addresses more generally. The less-than-optimal approaches to email accounts I see so often are usually honest mistakes that result from not thinking through the way email works — and the way other people use email. Let me see if I can expose and clear up a few of these trouble spots.

What’s Your Email Address? I’d like to start with the most fundamental fact about your email experience: your email address. The famous 19th-century French gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” Were he alive today, he might be able to make a similar judgment based on your email address. And whether you realize it or not, people do judge you by your address!

Now, I’m not merely saying that a Hotmail address is unfashionable. (It is unfashionable and always has been, but that’s neither here nor there.) I’m saying that one can often make an educated guess about a person’s technical ability, employment, and social savvy based on an email address — and those guesses (whether correct or not) may be unfavorable. For example, here are some stereotypes:

  • At the very bottom of the email address hierarchy are addresses from an ISP — that is, addresses ending in @att.net, @comcast.net, @cox.net, @earthlink.net, @anything.rr.com, @verizon.net, and so on. These betray perhaps the worst misconception, which is that you must accept what your ISP offers or that there are no better alternatives (there are always better alternatives to an ISP’s email). And they suggest that you’re stuck with your provider, because switching ISPs would mean giving up that email address. Even if you’ve been blissfully content with your ISP for years, the possibility always exists that a better, less-expensive, or otherwise more attractive option could appear in the future — or that your ISP could go out of business.

  • Addresses from Hotmail, Yahoo, Excite, Juno, and similar free email providers imply that you don’t take email very seriously, and may suggest a holdover from student days. And it’s distinctly worse if you have a computer-suggested name like jsmith487@hotmail.com rather than, say, johnsmith@hotmail.com (which at least tells me you’re an early adopter).

  • An AOL address tells me you were probably an AOL user back in the days of floppy disks and dial-up modems, and you kept the address just because it was too much bother to change it — or because you weren’t aware there were any alternatives. (More on changing addresses in a bit.) And by the way, if you’re still paying for AOL even though you don’t use them for dial-up access anymore, you’re wasting your money. Did you know you can keep using your AOL address for free?

  • Addresses tied to Apple’s services — those ending in @icloud.com, @me.com, and @mac.com — tell me you’re an Apple fan (which may be a positive or negative judgment, depending on who’s making it). But if that’s your primary or only address, it also suggests excessive dependence on Apple and a willingness to live with significant limitations when it comes to email.

  • A Gmail address suggests you’re a bit more sophisticated than the average email user, but not sophisticated enough to set up Gmail with your own domain name (or perhaps too poor — custom domain names used to be free but now require a paid Google Apps subscription, at $50 per user per year). In particular, when I get business email from someone using a gmail.com address, I have to wonder what kind of employer can’t spring for a professional-looking domain name or why the sender is choosing to send from a personal address instead of a work address.

  • Addresses in a .edu domain are fine for students and teachers, but when someone continues using such an address years after graduating, I wonder if it’s due to unemployment. Of course, you may just be proud of your alma mater, but using such an address for non-school correspondence years later is a bit like continuing to wear a class ring in your 40s. It makes people wonder why you haven’t moved on.

  • If your address belongs to a business’s domain (@macworld.com, @apple.com, @wellsfargo.com, etc.), that tells me you’re employed, and it tells me something about your employer if not about your specific profession. That’s all fine, but if I receive personal email from an unambiguously business address, I wonder what’s going on. Perhaps the person does not have the sense to keep personal and business email separate, or is too lazy to get a personal account somewhere.

    Of course, if you own your own business, that’s another story altogether, because there’s often no need to separate personal and business correspondence. You might get email from Adam’s ace@tidbits.com address that has nothing to do with TidBITS. That’s his domain, and he can do whatever he likes with it. So it’s a business domain that also functions as a personal domain, which brings us to the next category.

  • Email addresses in a personal domain — that is, one you own yourself, whether or not it involves your name — tell me that you’re a highly clueful person, with at least modest technical sophistication and a better-than-average awareness of How Things Work. I also know that you could switch email providers if you ever found that to be necessary. The nature of your personal domain might also tell me something. I chose the domain alt.cc — which I use for both personal and business correspondence — largely for its compactness (I once co-owned the domain name computergeeks.com, which was far too unwieldy), and I also own the domain joekissell.com (for obvious reasons). But if someone sends me email from an address ending in @misogynist.com, you know I’m going to raise an eyebrow as I reach for the Delete key.

Of course, you may have more than one address, and you may carefully choose which one you use based on the situation. I certainly do. I have every single type of address listed above (except .edu), but I use them selectively and with attention to the recipient, the occasion, and what impression I’m trying to convey.

If you regularly use one of the less-desirable email addresses, don’t worry, you’re not stuck with it forever! I’ll make some suggestions in a moment, but first I want to mention another problematic email practice.

A Couple’s Address? Really? Every so often I get an email from a couple who share a single email address. And while that’s adorable on some level, it’s also infuriating. JohnAndNancy@ThePetersonFamily.com sends me a message and it’s signed “John.” Later, I want to tell John something so I send a message to that address, but Nancy replies. I never know who’s going to be on the other end of the conversation.

Look, couples. I’m sure you’re the two closest people ever, that you share a brain, and that you have no secrets from each other. Good for you. But as surely as you each need your own driver’s license and passport, you need to have your own email addresses too. John and I might want to discuss a surprise party for Nancy, and Nancy might want to buy John a gift online without worrying that he’ll see the receipt. There are a thousand other reasons why it’s worthwhile for even the most committed and trusting couple to have separate addresses. If you want to have a family address especially for email both people need to see (such as bills), that’s fair enough, but please do your correspondents a favor and let them know your personal address too. (You do know email accounts are available for free, right?)

Accounts, Domains, and Providers -- Why do so many people use less-than-ideal email addresses? One reason is a misconception that an email account must be tied to a domain name, a provider, or both. But that isn’t so. Sure, you can get an email address from your ISP that, in turn, is tied to that ISP’s domain name, but in fact the elements of email account, domain name, and provider can (and generally should) be entirely distinct.

Let’s start with your ISP — the cable, DSL, satellite, dial-up, or cellular provider you use to access the Internet. Virtually every ISP also offers email accounts, and in some cases they’re set up for you automatically whether you want them or not. But no one is required to use these accounts! If it exists, you can simply ignore it. Go ahead and use Gmail, iCloud, or your favorite IMAP provider for email. The fact that Comcast provides your broadband connection doesn’t obligate you to use Comcast as an email provider. (You may want to at least set up your Comcast address to forward email to your regular address, just in case Comcast uses it to send you support messages or account notifications.)

The same goes for Web hosts. Maybe you have a hosting package with a company like 1and1 or DreamHost. These and countless other similar services usually include email hosting as part of the package, and there’s nothing wrong with using that if you like. But you’re not required to, and it’s often possible to get better and more reliable service from providers that specialize in email. Even if you do go with a Web hosting service, you can and should use a custom domain — not a domain belonging to the hosting provider.

But what about other email providers? If you use another service to host your email, isn’t your address tied to that service? Well, yes and no.

It’s true that if you have an aol.com address, only AOL can host it, and if you have a gmail.com address, only Google can host that. The same goes for all the providers — including iCloud, Yahoo, and Microsoft (outlook.com, live.com, and hotmail.com).

But you don’t have to live with an address in a generic domain. You can have a domain of your very own and then direct that email to your preferred email provider. Even better, you have the flexibility to change email providers if the need should arise. And in many cases, you can still keep your old address as an alternative if you’re concerned that changing it would be infeasible.

Ditch a Locked-In Provider -- If you want the control, flexibility, and favorable impressions that come from having your own domain name, you can make it happen. The exact steps depend on the choices you make, but I’ll outline the process here.

  1. First, pick a domain registrar, find a domain name you like, and register it. I’ve had good results with easyDNS and Directnic, but there are zillions of other registrars, too. These days, the going rate for domain names is about $15 per year — more if you want an unusual top-level domain, less on some bargain sites or if you’re transferring a domain from another registrar. The hardest part of registering a domain is finding a name that hasn’t been taken, but once you’ve done that, the rest of the process should take just minutes.

  2. Next, pick an email provider. If you’re happy with your existing provider (whether iCloud, Gmail, or whatever) except for the fact that you don’t have your own domain name, the simplest approach is to log in to your account at your registrar’s Web site and configure it to forward all email for your domain to your existing address. That way you don’t have to change anything on the receiving side, although you may prefer to change the From address in your email client to reflect your new domain when you send outgoing mail. (This is often easier said than done, but I go into more detail about it, especially for Gmail, in “Take Control of Apple Mail.”)

    If you aren’t happy with your current provider, now’s the time to choose a new one. You’ll most likely pay for the service, and although prices vary widely, there are many options under $50 per year. I use the easyMail service from easyDNS, but lots of people swear by FastMail, Google Apps, and other providers. If you choose a new email provider, you’ll have to specify which address(es) you want mailboxes for in your new domain. You’ll also have to follow the provider’s instructions for setting up MX (mail exchange) records with your domain registrar, so incoming email is directed to the right server. That sounds complicated but it’s just a matter of filling in a few blanks on a form, and most email providers and registrars provide clear, simple instructions for doing so, like these from easyMail.

  3. Now, if you’ve changed email providers, configure your email client (such as Apple Mail) on each device you use to log in to your new account with the username and password you chose.

  4. Finally — assuming, again, that you’ve changed providers — forward mail from your old address to your new one. Most email providers and ISPs have a screen somewhere in the account settings area of their Web sites where you can type a forwarding address. By doing this, you ensure that mail sent to your old address will still reach you, even if your correspondents don’t update their address books. (It’s still a good idea to send out change-of-address notices and change important subscriptions and accounts, but forwarding email removes one of the barriers to switching providers.)

    Although each provider is different, I’ll explain how this is done with iCloud and Gmail. To forward email from iCloud, log in to your account at www.icloud.com/mail. Click the gear icon in the lower-right corner and choose Preferences from the pop-up menu. On the General pane, select Forward My Email To, enter an address, and click Done. To forward email from Gmail, log in to your account at mail.google.com, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner and choose Settings from the pop-up menu. Click Forwarding and POP/IMAP. Click Add a Forwarding Address and follow the prompts to set it up. Then select Forward a Copy of Incoming Mail To and choose that address from the pop-up menu. From the second pop-up menu, choose what you want Gmail to do with the original message after forwarding it (my choice would be Delete Gmail’s Copy). Then click Save Changes.

    Of course, if you were using an ISP’s email account and you change ISPs, your old account, including that forwarding setting, will disappear when you discontinue service. (Worse, someone else might get that username and start receiving your mail, which can be awkward.) So if you’re thinking of switching ISPs, try to wait a few months after you set up your new email address, and tell every single person who sends email to your old address that you’re using a new one, effective immediately. (And, be sure to send that message from your new account, so replies don’t go to your old one!)

Later on, if your email provider goes out of business, encounters security problems, raises prices, or does anything else objectionable — or if you simply find one you like better — you can set up an account with a new provider and change your MX records again (as in Step 2), change your client settings (as in Step 3), and transfer your saved email to the new provider. Your correspondents will never know the difference.

Further Advice -- Having an email address in a domain you control and hosting your email at a provider you like can solve numerous problems and perhaps even improve your image. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In my new book “Take Control of Apple Mail,” I discuss many other ways to become a better correspondent, manage your Inbox, and make email a pleasure rather than a hassle. The book covers email etiquette, dealing with incoming and outgoing attachments, using signatures, providing the proper context in replies, judiciously using Cc and Bcc fields, and many other email tasks. I hope you find it helpful.

 

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Comments about FlippedBITS: Misconceptions about Changing Email Addresses

Anonymous  2014-03-04 09:43
I completely disagree that maintaining a domain name offers any real advantage over using a "locked-in" provider. I've registered domain names, and I've had email domains yanked out from under me. Without going into great detail, I can say that I don't believe that having one or more domain names at my disposal made dealing with issues related to email changes any less problematic.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-04 09:50
You are entitled to your opinion, of course. Needless to say, merely having a domain isn't enough; it's how you use it.

But my point is that at least you control that crucial link in the chain. If your email address is tied to a particular provider and that provider goes offline, decides to block your account for some reason, gets hacked, goes out of business, etc. etc., you have to start over from scratch with a new address and deal with the consequences of people not knowing how to reach you. If your email address is tied to a domain name you control, you have options.
Adrian B  2014-03-04 13:37
I definitely see huge advantages with using my own domain, and I speak of experience with both.

Some years ago, after seeing my locked-in email provider first going web only, shutting down POP access (back when IMAP wasn't common) and eventually going out of business I decided to only use my own domain name for email and I have never looked back. This is SO much better.

I currently host my mail with Google Apps but I could switch to another provider tomorrow and no one would know, and no adress would change.

I *know* that I can keep this email address for the rest of my life as long as I keep the domain name. That can't be said of any locked-in service out there.
Yorick  2014-03-10 18:27
I'm with Joe and Adam on this one. I've hosted my own domain(s) and therefore my own e-mail since '98. The fact that I have changed ISP's many times means I am independent of them and can forward, filter and manipulate my e-mail as I see fit. It's my e-mail, I paid for the services fees, I deserve to own it and not be at somebody else's mercy.
Steven Oz  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2014-03-04 12:09
Thanks, Joe.

I agree and good advice! (And I'm going to forward this link to my 'elderly' AOL friends and Hotmail hotties.)
Charlie Hartley  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2014-03-04 12:27
Interesting article. While I have several (too many?) email addresses that I use for different purposes, I continue to use my oldest one for many purposes for two reasons: (1) my username is my surname without any extra stuff attached which, I think, shows that I've been around a while; and (2) I value the excellent service that my local isp has provided over the years and prefer to show my loyalty to them this way.
Kendall  2014-03-09 16:33
Word! I've used the same e-mail, from a local/regional ISP who is clearly around for the long haul, for many, many years. I like not having to change domains. Even people I know who use vanity addresses/domains occasionally change addresses. I have zero need for my own domain (for e-mail or otherwise)--waste of money and time for me, personally.

My fave thing in the article was the "no shared e-mail for couples for personal e-mail" part. ;-)
Kevan Pegley  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2014-03-04 12:56
Boy, your article rang so many bells Joe. I registered pegley.com, pegley.co.uk, and kevanpegley.com years ago, when I discovered how cheap it was to register your own domain. Over the years many, many people have commented on how cool it is that my email address is simply k@pegley.com — though the single initial does defeat some services including, unfortunately, TidBITS!

There is another advantage to having your own domain, depending on with whom it is registered. I have kevanpegley.com with Wordpress, with the email service provided by Google Apps (still free I'm glad to say — I guess I'm grandfathered in). Using this solution I can use any prefix I want, so can give people an address unique to them. My address registered with TidBITS is, for example, tidbits@kevanpegley.com. This can bring advantages in sorting and filing incoming emails.

I guess style and image are important to me, but I have often been struck by how people who wouldn't dream of wearing socks with sandals just don't get it when it comes to email addresses! I've actually gifted domains to people — they make a great birthday present — only to watch with horror when they don't bother to actually use their nice new personal domain name, and then let it lapse after the two year registration period that I've paid for.

Having read your article I now feel my efforts were not totally misguided, even though they were in vain! Thanks.
David Walker  2014-03-04 15:19
I don't see anything wrong with using the 10 email accounts my ISP provides. It doesn't mean I'm too clueless to do anything else. I used to have two domain names and my own mail server. It was a neat learning experience, but otherwise a complete waste of time and money.
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I don't understand the paranoia around needing a "permanent" email address. My current ISP email has survived three jobs, three homes, five phone numbers and a change in marital status. It's more permanent than some of my dental fillings!
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Anyone using a free cloud based email (AOL, Google, MS, Yahoo) clearly doesn't care about their own privacy and therefore can't be trusted to respect mine.
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A shared email account for a couple is the logical replacement for snail mail like bills and bank statements. As email replaces snail mail a shared account is becoming a necessity. Of course my wife and I also have personal email accounts.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-04 15:33
There's nothing wrong with using your ISP's email accounts, but it means that if you ever decide (or are forced) to change email providers, it will be extremely awkward and frustrating. I'm trying to save you that frustration.

I can see the point of a couple sharing an email address for things like bills (although I can think of other approaches that are cleaner). But that's not what I'm worried about here; I'm thinking of people who use "couple" accounts exclusively, and for personal correspondence.
David Walker  2014-03-04 16:54
I appreciate that you're trying to save us all from unnecessary anxiety and frustration. Thank you.

I remember the bad old days when I belonged to a BBS and the owner decided to shut it down. I lost not only my email address, but my entire online identity and my means of contacting others. Today I have 4 email addresses I check daily on 3 different domains, a Twitter ID and even a dormant Facebook account where I was recently discovered by someone I met 20 years ago who now lives on the other side of the globe.

The ability to destroy an entire domain is insignificant next to the power of the force.
Sam Anton  2014-03-12 09:46
"Anyone using a free cloud based email (AOL, Google, MS, Yahoo) clearly doesn't care about their own privacy and therefore can't be trusted to respect mine."

Wow. Jump to conclusions much? Clearly.
Martin  2014-03-04 20:06
I have tried gmail, yahoo, cpanel roundcude and fastmail etc, the one that I have found to be the best is Thexyz Webmail which I have been using for over 2 years. The features are more for business but works great.
I am well past middle age, and use a .edu account for all commercial transactions on the 'net. I find that as a result, I get a lot less spam. Guess advertisers think college students and faculty don't spend much!

Also, .aol accounts cannot be forwarded.
Bryan Bremner  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2014-03-15 16:30
I too have a single name .edu account, got it when my university first connected to the internet. However it is a public (state supported) university and there are very strong prohibitions against using university property for private business. Also, can you imagine the State Legislators absolute fit over an account like adolph@hitlerstudies.XXX.edu? Or peraps more likely, an email to a poential donor. I am a PCO, an elected Precinct Comittee Officer, and emails expressing my political opinion or requesting money for political activities are regular occurrances. I don't want to submit either my party or my old university (I am now retired) to the political firestorm that would raise.

No, an email forwarding to my internet provider from my personal domain works much better.
Nick M  2014-03-05 22:27
I'm definitely in your camp, though perhaps would alter the relative rankings somewhat (lower gmail, raise edu). One other major point worth mentioning is that changing an email address you've used a long time is hard.

Seven years ago I changed away from an address I had used for thirteen years previous. I announced to everyone I knew that they should use my new address and used it exclusively, but still for at least three years afterwards I would get mail at my old address. For all I know, people still write me at that address, but now it bounces and I have no control over the bounce message because it wasn't my domain.
Kendall  2014-03-09 16:36
I agree on lowering gmail. Everyone uses it--or has a gmail address they don't use. It's no sign of sophistication, just of following the herd, IMHO. There's nothing wrong with it, but I put it only marginally above any other cloud e-mail provider.
Agreed, Gmail is just as ghetto as hotmail, yahoo, etc. Maybe even worse as it marks someone as a bandwagon-jumper and johnny-come-lately.
Dennis B. Swaney  2014-03-10 20:36
Joe, I'm one of those you look down upon because my primary email address is from AOL. But I've had that address for almost 25 years (only because .al-pe.com was never an active domain) Yes, I'm one of the old AppleLink-PersonalEdition members, starting when it was ONLY for Apple IIs. That also made me a Charter Member of AOL when Apple pulled out of AL-PE, and it became AOL in October 1989.

However, through the passing years I've had many other email addresses at various ISP's, work, my Mac User Group, eWorld, .mac.com/.me.com/.icloud.com (I didn't ask or want the last two), gmail.com, etc. My current ISP contracts with GMail for email so I use their address to retrieve my email form the 4 (6 if you count .me and .icloud) email addresses I still have active. Yet the one I give out is the AOL one because it is my primary and I can access it from anywhere. When I move, I'll lose my ISP's GMail service but I'll still have AOL!
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-10 21:02
It's certainly true that AOL addresses are portable across ISPs (as with any third-party email provider), although tons of people still pay AOL $25 a month just for email even though they no longer use dial-up, which I think is very sad.

Don't think I look down on you personally. But I'm trying to describe stereotypes. One way to think about it is that every email you send or receive advertises and promotes AOL. If that's a company/brand you're proud of and want to be associated with, then great. But most people don't think of AOL that way.
Dennis B. Swaney  2014-03-12 12:07
Well, when your ISP DOESN'T have a dial up option and their broadband service goes down, then you're stuck with NO email capability. So I can understand keeping a dial-up capability handy. BTW, it's only $6.99 to keep a dial-up AOL option.

I have only 4 options where I live: dial-up, wireless ISP, DSL, and satellite. The first is too slow, the third is more expensive than the 2nd, and the 4th is even more expensive, slower and capped than the second. The local cable company doesn't come down my street though their cable runs down the cross street about .15 miles from my house. When I asked about service, I was told I'd have to cough up several thousand dollars first just have the cable come down my street.
Peter J Gingiss  2014-03-10 21:15
I am a great fan, but I disagree that there is anything particularly sophisticated about using a Gmail account, as opposed to, say, a Yahoo account. In fact, Google is dedicated to gathering information about me. It asks me to log in when I just want to use Google maps. When I use Google news, it always wants my location. Google is a sophisticated information gathering machine, kind of like the NSA (Can I get an email account with them?). I am in no way sophisticated in using them.
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-10 21:40
Gmail has more and better email features than Yahoo or any other free email provider, especially for power users. That's what makes Gmail users (a bit) more sophisticated.

Google is up front about data collection and ads and so forth. If you don't like that, nobody is forcing you to use Gmail (and I personally stopped using Gmail as my own primary email provider). But lots of people don't mind that at all, and use Gmail happily while fully aware of the privacy implications. So, I'm saying: sophistication about email doesn't imply a particular set of opinions about privacy or business models.
Jeff Hecht  2014-03-11 05:40
Good article. The only big downside of having bought my name domain is that I've had it so long it's deluged by spam. I have wound up using a gmail address as an alternative because it receives email almost instantly so I can receive email from people I'm talking with. My small ISP offers wonderful customer service, but has a few spam-filtering quirks that cause delays. On the other hand, Gmail has its own spam-filtering problems, so I find alternatives very useful.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-11 11:03
I feel your pain - I've been using my tidbits.com email address ever since I moved ace@tidbits.uucp, and with a highly visible address on the Internet, the amount of spam I get is off the charts.

But in fact, that's one reason I use Gmail behind the scenes - it has the best spam filtering of any consumer-level service I've seen. We run SpamAssassin on our server to get rid of the truly egregious stuff even before forwarding to Gmail, but Gmail handles everything else, and I see at most one or two spam messages a day (there's a particular type that uses a lot of randomly acquired text that's fooling Gmail right now). Erroneously filtered legit mail happens on occasion, but it's usually marketing mail or list mail that's a little dubious.

I've used a ton of anti-spam products over the years, and while I think highly of SpamSieve, nothing else has come close to matching up to Gmail.
Jeff Hecht  2014-03-11 11:33
Actually, I have found Gmail's spam filtering problematic because of false positives for the address I use. It's a fairly new address and normally gets little spam, so Gmail tosses press releases and other legitimate mail into the spam folder and I have to retrieve them regularly. Annoyingly, it does not seem to learn much when I mark the mislabeled mail as legitimate. I have a secondary, older gmail address that gets more spam and gmail handles it better.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-11 12:03
That's interesting - I wonder how long it takes to learn? I find so little real mail in spam that it's just a matter of teaching that those particular messages aren't spam, and that works fine.
IvanExpert  2014-03-11 12:39
Wow, this is a fantastic overview of what different email addresses "mean" as well as giving people a start on how to set up their own custom email. We joke that we can guess somebody's age based on his/her email address (AOL vs Yahoo vs Google, as each one has had its moment) but joking aside, I too often use someone's email address as a way to judge a company's professionalism.
IvanExpert  2014-03-11 15:05
Joe, question for you: You mention easyDNS and Directnic as two favorite domain hosts. Do they have 24/7 support? We often use GoDaddy because they do (and we have needed to use it at times!). Other favorite hosts?
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-11 15:13
easyDNS offers live support during regular business hours. DirectNIC offers live support from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central time, M-F. I've never needed support from either of the companies outside those hours.

Personally, I would not use GoDaddy under any circumstances because of the company's terrible track record of business practices and its president's behavior. (Google it if you're curious.) I don't have any other specific recommendations for DNS providers, but there are many to choose from.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-11 15:23
I'll second Joe on avoiding GoDaddy. A rotten, rotten company. I'm a fan of Hover, who has no-wait support. You call, they answer. Plus, you can tell them to transfer a domain from another provider, and they'll handle the entire process.
I first got internet access in France in 1995. I had an address with my ISP, and when I moved ISPs a year later, I realized how important it was to have my own domain. Since I was already working as a freelancer, there was the risk that potential clients wouldn't be able to contact me. I reserved my domain - my last name .com - and have used it ever since.

This said, I tend to use my mac.com address more often on my iPhone, as it's push. As far as I've seen (when I looked a while back), there aren't many providers that offer push. Is that still the case? Joe, any tips on that?

Also, another question I've been wondering about. I currently have my email with the same company that hosts my web sites. Is there any advantage to using an email-only provider?
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-12 08:46
If you want push delivery in Mail on your iOS device, I believe your only options are iCloud, Yahoo, and Exchange. iOS just doesn't support IMAP IDLE, which is the "usual" way of getting push-like behavior for IMAP accounts.

The advantages (in theory) of an email-only provider are expertise and focus. With a Web host, email may be an afterthought. But, there's lots of variation. If you're happy with what you have now, rock on.
I actually want to move me web hosting, but have been thwarted by the huge number of options. If I do, and it's worth moving my email hosting and domains as well, it would be best to do it all at once.
Curtis Wilcox  An apple icon for a Friend of TidBITS 2014-03-13 03:19
The Gmail app update last week added retrieving mail while it's in the background, does that count?
Joe Kissell  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-03-13 04:46
Retrieving messages in the background isn't the same as push. Mail can receive Gmail messages in the background, but on a schedule.
Eolake Stobblehouse   An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2014-03-16 12:29
Thank you, Joe.
I've been using mails on my own domains for many years, and being drowned in spam for my trouble. For some reason web based mail, at least Gmail, is much more secure to spam, so I've mainly used that for years now.
This article inspired me to finally route the Gmail through my own domain (eolake.com), and it was easy to set up (though not free). It feels good.