As email is such a pervasive technology, you might wonder why I spent time on this relatively simple topic. Through an interesting series of discussions with clients/friends over the past few months (especially the past 2 weeks) – I found myself discussing the impact of the following situations:
- The impact of moving to an area where they have to change Internet Service Providers (ISP)
- Actions they need to take if their ISP is bought out (or goes out of business)
- Viability of accessing email remotely (for example on vacation and/or smart phones)
- Creating email account names that are “appropriate” in business context
Lets go on the assumption that others have these questions as well – or possibly didn’t even realize the impact of these events! So here is my starting taking on helping people “Keep Pace” with Email “basics”!
Here an email, there an email .. everywhere an email email …
In this day and age an individual can obtain email addresses in a number of ways:
- From the company they work at
- Association with an educational entity (i.e. an active student OR alumni)
- Through their Internet provider (i.e. Comcast, Cox, Optimum Online, Verizon)
- Through an internet based email provider (i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail/Live, etc)
But with so many addresses at your disposal, which one should you use the most? First, not all email accounts are created equally:
- Some come with usage restrictions (i.e your email at work)
- Some have limited storage (this isn’t as applicable nowadays, but I put it here for completeness)
And just because you have access to an email account – doesn’t mean you will always have ACCESS to that account !
- You could leave your job / get fired
- You could drop out of school
- Your Internet provider could be acquired
- You could move to an area serviced by a different internet provider
Doctor it hurts when I do that .. Stop doing that !
There can be moments of “pain” associated with losing an email account. The following is an extreme example, but it helps highlight some of the points I just made:
Lets say Comcast has been your ISP and you established email@example.com as your everyday email address. Further, lets say that you use Microsoft Outlook / Outlook Express to retrieve your emails. Tomorrow morning you get a call saying that your dream job is available, but you will have to relocate to an area that is NOT serviced by Comcast.
1. In your excitement about the new job, you not thinking about the impact of canceling your Comcast Service – which will end/terminate access to your Comcast email account.
2. You will have to establish a NEW email address and start sending out emails to all of your friends. However should you miss someone in your notification email, they may have a hard time finding you
3. You probably have a large number of sites where you registered your email address (trust me – you won’t remember them all). While it may not seem important to update all of them – you will learn a painful lesson if you FORGET your password to a site. While the good news is most sites are designed to send you information to retrieve your password – in this case it will be sent to an email that doesn’t exist !!
This situation is also similar to the loss of a job – where you lose the contact information of people/vendors you work with (this is why you should be using Linkedin)
No matter where ya go …. there you are !
Another consideration is the ability to access your email remotely. While accessing email accounts from a browser is not new – the increased proliferation of smartphones (like the iPhone and the Android) allows 24×7 access to your email. Fortunately all email described previously can be accessed remotely (but there are specific issues with corporate based emails).
Once caveat – if you are currently using an email client (such as Microsoft Outlook / Outlook Express) to receive your mail AND Outlook is configured to DELETE those emails once they are received/processed – the ability to remotely access your email account will be minimized – as you won’t have the ability to view/search old emails.
So what would I recommend ?
There are a few things I would suggest
1. If you aren’t using an Internet based email provider as your PRIMARY email, my recommendation is to do so ASAP !
- Since its unlikely Google, Microsoft or Yahoo will go out of business any time soon, I would steer you in the direction of these companies/providers (although my recommendation is to go with Gmail)
- When creating your account, think about selecting an appropriate email name – while it may be funny to have an email such as firstname.lastname@example.org, this is NOT an account you would use in professional settings (i.e. corresponding for a new job)
- Once you create the account, you can start the “migration” process. Yes this is going to take some effort on your part, but it will be beneficial in the long run. Some suggested actions include:
- Send a note to your primary contacts / friends from your EXISTING email account – tell them you are switching emails and provide them with your NEW email address.
- Log into web sites you have registered with (Banks, Investment company, Utilities) and update your email address to your new address (you could consider creating an account specific to this function as well)
- Re-register with other sites as applicable (such as newsletter sites, listserv’s etc)
2. Consider a second email account for those times you are registering at sites that require an email account to get more information. If you are only browsing/researching – this is a safe way of protecting your “primary” email.
3. While it has nothing to do with this article, I suggest you refresh yourself on email ettitquette (http://www.emailreplies.com/). For example USING CAPITAL LETTERS WITHIN AN EMAIL IS CONSIDERED SHOUTING AND RUDE.
Whats coming in a future blog entry ….
Hopefully I have peaked your interest into using an Internet based account as your primary email address. And based on some additional feedback I received, I am working on a future followup blog entry that will touch upon:
- Preventing SPAM
- Filtering emails
- Email consolidation
- Security (Using browsers on unknown computers, establishing effective passwords)
Is there anything else you would add to this list ?? Let me know !