Help you get your account back? No.
Help you avoid this situation again in the future? Absolutely.
It’s exceptionally frustrating when a service promising to provide something forever goes away. Apparently, “forever” isn’t what it used to be.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Email for life
Having a single email address you can count on working for the rest of your days is pretty appealing, mostly because changing your email address is such a pain.
You’d never have to tell all your friends that your email address was changing, and you’d never have to hope that they noticed and updated their address book.
You’d never have to run around to all the online services you use and the online shopping sites you frequent to manually update your email address.
You’d never have to lose important email because someone didn’t have your new, current, updated email address.
Your email address is what it is, and isn’t going to change.
There are a few ways to make that happen.
Worst: your ISP
One thing I can tell you not to do is this: rely on the email address that your ISP gives you as part of your service.
You will move. Your ISP will change. Your ISP will be bought by another ISP. Your ISP will go out of business.
Regardless of the reason, one thing I can tell you: the email address assigned to you by your ISP will need to be changed at some point.
There are very, very few exceptions.1
Better: a large company’s email service
Google and Gmail will probably be around for a while. Hotmail email addresses will probably work for as long as Microsoft exists, even though all traces of the website have changed to Outlook.com.
Yahoo? Your guess is as good as mine, given recent turmoil in that company. AOL? Probably good for a while.
The point here is that you can, indeed, count on some of the existing general purpose email services to be around for a very long time, and you can probably guess which ones I consider the safest in that respect: Google’s and Microsoft’s.
Paid email services are a little more difficult to judge, since their existence is, at least in part, predicated on making money. Should that change, priorities might change, and you could someday get that unwelcome message that the service is closing down.
Special-purpose email services run an additional risk: their purpose. ProtonMail, for example, is a fully encrypted email service that could someday be at the mercy of various governments for whom encryption is an anathema. We’ve seen such services shut down in the past, either in response to government requests or in reaction to government threats.
But using a service like Gmail or Outlook.com is a pretty reasonable solution — as long as you don’t lose your account to a hack.
Best: your own domain
The best solution is not the simplest, but it puts nearly everything under your control.
Own your own domain.
Just as I own “askleo.com”, you can purchase (more correctly, lease) a domain on the internet that is completely and only yours. You control all the email addresses on that domain (as many as you like!), but more importantly, you control exactly how and where that email is handled, and can change it at any time.
Email on your own domain can be handled several different ways:
Domain registrars often offer email services. They become your email provider for the email addresses on your domain.
Your domain host (if you choose to host a website with your domain) almost certainly offers email services. Once again, they become your email provider for the email addresses on your domain.
Any other email account anywhere. Even if your registrar doesn’t offer email services directly, they often offer email forwarding. Email sent to your email address on your domain is automatically forwarded to any other email address on any other service. You then deal with your email using that other service.
Any other email service that can import POP3. Most of the major email services (i.e. Gmail and Outlook.com, among others) support what I refer to as “POP3 pickup”. These services act like an email client program, picking up your email from the email service provided by your registrar or host. You then interact with your email using these major services as you like.
There are other options; those are just the most common.
Why your domain is best
Here’s why this approach is key: you can change the approach at any time without changing your email address. As long as you own your domain, your email address need never change, even though the way it’s handled can be changed as needed.
For example, let’s say:
- You own the internet domain, “yourveryowndomainname.com”2.
- You have an email address, email@example.com.
- Your domain registrar provides basic email services.
- You use Google Mail to access the servers at your registrar, fetch the email sent to you, and send email as firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other words, you use your Gmail account to send and receive email as email@example.com.
One day, your Gmail account is hacked. Or Google makes you angry enough to want to leave. Or (long shot here) Google goes out of business.
No problem. You set up the same system, only this time you use your account at Outlook.com. Your email address never changes — it’s still firstname.lastname@example.org; you’re just using Outlook.com to access it.
It’s what I do
Email sent to any email address that’s destined for me @askleo.com is actually handled by a Google Mail account. My replies? Usually typed in the Gmail web interface.
The same is true for my personal email: all handled by Gmail.
If I ever want to change, I can. If I ever want my registrar to handle it, they can. If I ever want to handle it myself, I can.3 If I want to switch it all to Outlook.com, or Yahoo! Mail, or something else, I can.
All without changing my email address @askleo.com or @ any of the other domains I happen to own.
As long as I own those domains, the email addresses need not change.
And most I intend to own for the rest of my life.
If you found this article helpful, I'm sure you'll also love Confident Computing! My weekly email newsletter is full of articles that help you solve problems, stay safe, and give you more confidence with technology. Subscribe now and I'll see you there soon,