page. It’s for a different ISP than I use now. Is there a way that if anyone
sends mail to that inactive address, the mail would be forwarded to my current
Changing email addresses can be a real pain, and this is one of the reasons
why. Be it on a web page that you can’t update, or in the address books of all
your friends and family, you know that someone will try to use your old email
address long after you’ve switched it. A forwarding service would certainly be
Yep. It’d certainly be nice.
But in general, while it’s possible, it’s not very likely, or it’s
going to cost you.
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When email gets sent to “email@example.com”, the “someaddress” part is
ignored by everyone except for the mail servers at “example.com”.
Every mail server that isn’t “example.com” simply looks at the email and says,
in effect, “oh, this needs to go to example.com”, and sends it there.
It’s not until the mail actually gets to the servers at “example.com” that
the individual email recipient is examined, and the appropriate mailbox is
found, or other action taken.
The upshot is this: if forwarding is to be done, it must be done by your old
ISP. No matter what, they’re going to get all the email sent to your old
address since it’s “at” their domain. Only they can then forward it.
The problem is twofold: first, many ISPs and mail servers simply don’t
provide an email forwarding service. Hotmail is a good example. You can’t close
a Hotmail account and ask for all email that might come in on that account to
be forwarded to some other email address.
Second, for those that do support it, it basically means keeping your old
account open so that it can receive, and then forward, your email. Keeping it
open, of course, implies that it might cost you some amount per month.
There are various email forwarding services out there, but they basically
take the later approach: you give them enough information for them to keep your
old account open, and they manage the forwarding process for you. I typically
don’t recommend them – if you’re going to keep your old account open anyway,
why involve someone else?
What I do recommend is owning your own domain, and using email
addresses on that domain. When you purchase a domain name, most domain
registrars will allow you to specify email addresses to be forwarded, and where
they might forward to. So, let’s say you purchase the domain
“joe-example.info”. When you register your domain, you can then set up the
email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” to forward wherever you like … your
Hotmail account, your ISP-based email account, or whatever. You would also
configure your email program to send from “email@example.com”. Then, when
you change from Hotmail to GMail, or from one ISP to another, you simply
reconfigure the forwarding to the new service. Everyone using your public email
address, “firstname.lastname@example.org”, sees no difference, and all your email arrives
at your new service.