Demystifying the Digital World – Part 3

I know I promised a brief guide to getting rid of Microsoft Windows for this post, but I recently had an email epiphany and wanted to share an interesting story. The problem was this, somehow my wife and I have ended up with eight domain names, four websites, and about a dozen email addresses. It crept up on us over the past 20 years. First came the domain name for her business, but it was too long so we registered a shorter one linking to the same website. Next was a domain name for my business, domain names for a personal project (.net and .org too!), another business domain name, and another personal domain name. Each domain name has a couple of email address and … well you see how things got so complicated.

Most of these domains receive very few emails so it would be silly to pay $5 / month / domain for hosting plus another $5 / month for email. Therefore we use free Gmail for the non-professional addresses. Gmail has a generous free account and its spam filtering is outstanding but how does one connect all those domain emails to a couple of Gmail accounts?

At this point you might be asking what has this to do with the average person with one (usually Gmail) email account. Even if your online life is much simpler, you might want to consider getting your own domain name for email and starting switching over gradually. Why switch? First, email is more central than ever to our online identities. Keeping a semi-private email out of the prying eyes of hackers is a great way to add another level of security. Second, as the website POBox explains, “Email is never free. Like all other services, it costs money to provide. If you aren’t paying for it, someone else is. Sometimes that someone is the service developer. Most frequently, that someone is advertisers.” Third, if you have ever had to switch away from an email service (remember AOL email?), you can now easily do so if you have your own domain name. Lastly, it is easy to setup, As my other favorite service ForwardMX explains, “Sign Up, Change MX Records, and Receive Your Emails.”

As an advanced tip, I also keep a “throwaway” Gmail account for newsletters / online offers and only give out my personal email for important correspondence. That keeps the spam level to an absolute minimum in my main account.

If you already have domain name(s) registered somewhere else, my favorite way to get the emails delivered to one place is by using ForwardMX. They are fast, easy, and inexpensive. For more complex arrangements (especially if you want to get away from Google), POBox has several tiers of options. For the least expensive arrangement, register a domain name at NameCheap and use their free email forwarding with a Gmail account.

Finally, a few tips for a successful transition:

  • Get a .COM address – Those  $0.48 / per year “.PARTY” domain names look fun, but emails from them often get marked as spam by ISPs.
  • Choose a domain name carefully – If your name is John Porterdorfer, you’re in luck. You can have John@ Porterdorfer.com! If your name is Smith, you’re going to have to be creative.
  • Give it time – It took me months to make the transition from the email I had used for years to the new name and five years later, I STILL get a few emails at the old address.

In the long run it is worth the effort. People still smile when I tell them my email address, it looks professional, and is easy to give out since it is based on my own name. Also, my spam folder is no longer overflowing with “Miracle Cure” emails and emails from several domains all come to one Inbox now. Ahhh, email nirvana!!!