(this is an excerpt from my book: The Spartan RV)
What is your email address?
An awfully large bunch of people have email addresses that were given to them by their internet provider.
You can tell by looking. The email addresses might look like this:
If you are using an email like this, you are making your email life harder and more expensive.
Since you are planning on being an RVer, you are planning on being mobile. Since you are reading this article you are planning on how to downsize your physical footprint. You can’t downsize you physical footprint without seriously considering how to downsize your financial footprint.
If you are paying money to a LOCAL internet provider like Comcast they will give you a Comcast email (Sparta@comcast.com or something similar). Wow, what nice guys those Comcast guys are.
But then you decide to spend 12 months on the other side of the country and you don’t need Comcast anymore. The PROBLEM is that you have to keep paying for their internet service to get their email. This might not be 100% true, but for many it is true. If you have to keep paying for their service, even though you aren’t using their internet, then that seems a bit silly to me.
The SECOND reason, which is related to the first is that if you decide you don’t want to pay for their service and cancel their service, then you need to change your email address. For heaven’s sake, if you do this, then DO NOT use the email address assigned to you by the NEW internet service – I’ll tell you the RIGHT thing to do at the end of this article.
The THIRD reason, is that the local internet service people are rookies. Really, your email is at risk because internet service providers don’t have that great of managed email services. You are going to get crappy interfaces, substandard tools and honestly, the world has much better things to offer.
The FOURTH reason is that by using the local internet service email address, you are divulging to the world more about you than you need to divulge. For example, if your email address ends in “rr.com”, then hackers know you have Time Warner internet service. Usually the email address has a prefix like “Austin.rr.com” so they can get your approximate location from your email address. They can also assume what equipment you have in your house, which is a HUGE help when trying to find vulnerabilities. They also know that you have an account with Time Warner with a credit card so they can zero in on the card. This is enough info for someone skilled to perhaps make a single phone call or two, figure out your credit card info, with you zip code, and wreak havoc on your life.
An aside related to the FOURTH reason is around security. Before creating Fort Knox, you are even better to make it so people don’t even know Fort Knox exists. That was an obscure way of saying “The best security is complete secrecy.” For example, if they don’t know your location, even if approximate, they will have a lot more trouble deducing things about you that can be used against you. I’m not trying to make you paranoid, but an email address, particularly when personal, should maybe not have any locality information in it.
I hope you can see that an email from you internet service provider isn’t the best thing.
HOW DO YOU GET A DECENT EMAIL ADDRESS AND WHAT SHOULD IT BE?
Getting a great permanent email address isn’t that hard to do. There are a few GREAT places to some that I would highly recommend.
- Gmail.com– You can get email from Google called gmail. Your address would be [your_unique.name]@gmail.com. No one ever got fired for Google and you can do almost everything you would want to do with gmail. Great web based front end. Great search capabilities.
- Yahoo.com – One of the original big daddies of email. Pretty much the same as Gmail, maybe even more reliable. Your address would be [your_unique.name]@yahoo.com. I personally use Yahoo and pay for an extra level of access that allows my Mac to work with Yahoo even better. Great web based front end. Great search.
- Outlook.com – From Microsoft. I think Microsoft is solid, but I struggle with the idea of using them because everything always tries to hook back to other Microsoft things and I don’t have the time to always be working on the computer doing silly stuff. There are quite a few Microsoft fan boys though who have more time and for them, this is probably a fantastic choice. [Hee hee – I’ll get hate mail for this one!]
- Icloud.com – From Apple. Honestly I don’t use it. As much as I love my Mac, I struggle to trust Apple on this one. They do great work on lots of things, but I’m just not so sure on email. I tried to sign my son up to icloud.com one day and to use icloud.com it told him he had to have an Apple device. No matter – it seemed fishy. From the outside it looks solid, but between gmail and yahoo, I just really feel the rest of the pack is “the rest of the pack”.
- I would avoid facebook. I would also avoid small companies no one has heard of – too many things can go wrong and you’d be back to square one.
Now that you know some places to look, what should your address be?
I do think names with lots of numbers in them are not very good. They “scream” temporary. If you want to have a number or two that means something to you, then that is ok, but don’t make it too long. My wife keeps using “35” in her emails – wishful thinking I’m sure – but it works for us and her so who am I to judge. Go ahead and use a dot (.) to get more choice – or an under bar (_). Put your alma mater in the name. Make it truly yours.