6 Reasons Your Email Address May Be A ProblemJuly 2, 2011
Every time we work with a new client, one of the issues that usually comes up is their email address. Especially if they only have one. In Santa Barbara, the majority of our clients use Cox for their internet connection. In the olden days of the 90’s (that’s actually TWO decades ago now!), being given an email address from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) was a really cool thing. In the early daze of screaming (loud, not fast) dial-up modems, having your email address hosted by AOL, CompuServe and many smaller outfits like Silcom here in town, was a natural thing. There were not many alternatives. No Gmail or Mobile Me, and Yahoo and Hotmail were just beginning to show up. Basically, unless you were pretty technically savvy and got your own domain, you just grabbed the email address that your ISP gave you and then proceeded to bug everyone in your life to get a computer and start sending email.
Today, in spite of the over-representation of juveniles who roam its malls, the internet is more mature, significantly faster, and accessed in ways the early pioneers might never have imagined. Astronauts and submarine captains have internet access and it has become ubiquitous and essential across newly created mobile devices, the latest of which is Apple’s iPad. Soon, we’ll have it wired into our cars, bicycles, clothing, toothbrushes and just about anywhere you can imagine.
So what does that have to do with your ISP issued email address?
Well, there are a lot of drawbacks to having your primary email address tied to your ISP.
1) The first problem is that your ISP has you prisoner. If a competitor comes to town, with a newer, cheaper, better internet package, you are stuck with that cox.net address they are going to charge you to keep.
2) Even worse, in changing ISPs because of a move they’ll sometimes completely cancel and delete the email account without you being aware of it. Suddenly you have no access to your email or an address you can be reached at!
3) Your internet service provider really doesn’t care that much about providing you an email address. Now, don’t take it personally. There’s no money in it and the support costs are painful. If your ISP could sign a deal with Google to handle all email addresses they would. Google deals with the near endless service and support requests by having no real humans that you can locate. [Actually, that’s only mostly true. I did reach a support team in Ireland once, but it took me an hour of phoning in favors to find that, and I think I had to wait a day for a call back from a number that self-destructed 5 minutes after we hung up.] Rumor is that they’re an entirely self-perpetuating algorithm, but I’ll save that for another time…
4) ISP email addresses are usually the most problematic on mobile devices. I cannot tell you how many Cox, Verizon and Comcast email addresses have failed to appear properly on people’s iPhones or iPads. ISPs have responded to this problem with…nothing. Modern email addresses need an IMAP configuration to stay in sync across numerous devices. If you’re totally up to date on your email because you’ve been checking it on your phone or work computer throughout the day, do you really want to come home to your computer and see all of those messages UNread? Modern times require modern formats and if you have more than one device checking email for you, you should have your email account set up as an IMAP account. Gmail and MobileMe do this by default.
5) ISP’s are predominantly PC based and rarely offer any real help for Mac users. They try sometimes, but it’s rather comical how often we have to undo everything their “support” person has had a Mac user do to their computer.
6) ISP’s are not really service companies. They’re actually more like a utility company. What do I mean by that? Well, their main job is to provide a big, wide, fast pipeline to the internet. They have this bipolar relationship with support. They see the potential revenues, but are not really sure how committed they are to diving in deeper. There’s a tentative, ill conceived quality to their “solutions” that have you trolling about on their website or downloading some sort of (usually) lame virus software that’s supposedly going to make your life better. Please don’t.
First of all, I’m not suggesting you dump your primary email address provided by your ISP. You can keep that as long as you want. I’m suggesting a gradual migration away from it as your primary address where personal or important email comes. On the road to that solution is the creation of a new address that you can begin writing to people from. Actually, we suggest you create two new addresses. Gmail is free, so it’s not a big deal. One of these addresses is for family and friends and the other is for business and internet shopping contacts. In doing so, you protect your more personal address from all the SPAM that submitting it publicly can do.
Not thrilled with Google controlling everything? Then get an email address with your own domain. [The domain is the part that comes after the “@” sign.] Then you can have the same email address for life, regardless of who delivers the internet to you. Something like, Sally@SallySmythe.com. Families often get a domain and then dole out email addresses to each member. Sally@TheSmytheFamily.com would be an example of that. They’re not expensive and you can usually get one for $15-$20/year.
Whatever you decide is right for you and your family, just know that you have fewer options with your ISP providing your primary email address.
We’re always here to help.
All the best,