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Practical Computer Advice
from Martin Kadansky
Volume 2 Issue 8 August 2008
In This Issue
When I move, my email address has to change, right?
Update: Hot car temperature measured!
Whether you're moving to a new town or getting a better deal, if you change Internet Service Providers (the company that you pay each month to provide you with your internet connection), don't also change your email address without considering all of your options.
When I move, my email address has to change, right?

That "free" email address may not be worth it
When you move to a new Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Verizon, Comcast, Earthlink, etc., they typically give you at least one free email account as part of the package. There is no obligation to use this free account, and in many cases I advise my clients not to use it at all.

When you change ISPs, you might think that:
  • You have to stop using your old email address at your old ISP.
  • You have to start using your new email address at your new ISP.
It turns out that most of the time neither of these statements is entirely true. Don't make the mistake of changing your email address without considering all of your options.

The pain of changing your email address
For the record, if you ever do decide to change your email address, I recommend:
  • Notifying everyone with whom you email that your address will be changing as of a specific date; it's best to announce a date prior to the date you expect to deactivate your old email account.
  • Updating all your email newsletter subscriptions with your new address.
  • Changing all your online account registrations to use your new address (organizations you belong to, web sites you're listed on, web sites you buy products from, etc.), especially accounts that use your email address as your username to log in.
  • Updating your email address on any financial web sites - online banking, credit cards, investments, Paypal, etc. If you keep a password list, like I recommended last year in "Passwords, passwords, passwords! How can I keep track of them all?" (http://kadansky.com/files/newsletters/2007_10_19.html), use it as a starting point for your list of important organizations to notify.
  • Not closing your old ISP account right away (even after you start to use your new ISP) so you don't miss any important "straggler" emails that are probably still going to your old address. Also, find out if your old ISP lets you forward your email to your new address.
  • A few weeks after you've closed your old email account, send a message to your old address to find out whether or not an error ("bounce") comes back. If it does, then at least you'll know that anyone who tries to email you at your old address will find out that it's obsolete. If it doesn't, then know that those senders will assume that you're still getting their email.
Certainly, if you only email with a handful of friends and family and don't do much else online, then this isn't very hard, but for many people this can be a lot of work. Also, you may find that even after you notify your friends and colleagues, some of them will continue to send email to your old address, perhaps because they didn't receive your message, didn't notice it, or simply didn't act upon it.

Ironically, this is also one of those moments where keeping every email you've ever received pays off, since in theory it gives you the means to make a list of every person and organization you might want to notify.

Better option #1: Keep your old email address
Given the pain of changing your email address, the best approach is not to change it at all. Before closing your account at your old ISP, ask if it's possible to stop using their company for internet access but still hang onto your old email address. Many ISPs offer free or low-cost "email-only" accounts, which enable you to continue using your old email address even if you're connecting to the internet through a different ISP.

Better option #2: Change to an email address that you'll never have to change again
If you're going to go to the effort of changing your email address, make this the last time you ever have to change. Take the opportunity to create a new address that you control, and that won't be affected by any future move or ISP changes. The most common ways to do this are:
  • Get an email account with a company that provides email services but isn't an ISP (also called "Web Email" or "Webmail"), such as yahoo.com, gmail.com, hotmail.com, mail.com, etc. Many are free, some offer additional services and cost up to $20/year.
  • Start using an "email forwarding" service, and set your email program to use your forwarding address as your "From" address. For example, when I started using email in my business I also had an account with the pobox.com forwarding service. I never gave out my "real" email address, instead I gave out the address of my forwarding account, kconsult@pobox.com, which I set up to forward to my "real" email address. A few years later I changed ISPs, so my real email address also changed. However, I didn't have to notify anyone, I simply changed my kconsult@pobox.com account to forward to the new address at the new ISP. Some forwarding services are free but offer very limited services, better ones cost around $20/year.
  • Create your own domain name, set up a related email account, and set your email program to use your domain email address as your "From" address. For example, back in 2002 I bought the domain kadansky.com, and within that I created my martin@kadansky.com email address. This approach gives you the most control over the way your email address looks, and you can get your own domain regardless of whether you have a business. Domain names with email accounts range from $10 to $50/year.
Where to go from here
When changing ISPs, before changing your email address, consider all of your options.
  • Does your old ISP give you the option to continue using your email address even after you've stopped using them for your internet connection?
  • If your address changed, how many people and organizations would you have to notify?
  • What are you willing to spend to avoid having to change your email address now, or to get one that you won't have to change in the future?
If you know someone else who might find this helpful, please feel free to forward it to them.
If you have any comments about this article, send me a reply!
If you have a topic that you'd like me to write about, I'd love to hear about it!
Update: Hot car temperature measured!

In mid-July I went to Sears and bought an oven thermometer so I could check that my oven was heating correctly to the temperature on the dial. As I drove home in the 90-degree humid weather, I realized that I probably wasn't going to be using my oven anytime soon.

Given that I wrote last summer in "Hot Summer Tips: Don't Leave It in Your Car!" (http://www.kadansky.com/files/newsletters/2007_08_01.html) that "the temperature inside your car can reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more," I realized that I had the perfect opportunity to leave the oven thermometer in my car (a white station wagon) and find out how hot my car actually gets in the heat. Here's what I found: On the hottest days so far this summer, when it was 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside my car (parked in the hot sun with the windows rolled up) reached 125-130 degrees! A colleague pointed out that it would have probably been even hotter if my car were painted black. Yikes!
How to contact me:
email: martin@kadansky.com
phone: (617) 484-6657
web: http://www.kadansky.com

On a regular basis I write about real issues faced by typical computer users. To subscribe to this newsletter, please send an email to martin@kadansky.com and I'll add you to the list, or visit http://www.kadansky.com/newsletter

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Copyright (C) 2008 Kadansky Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved.

I love helping people learn how to use their computers better! Like a "computer driving instructor," I work 1-on-1 with small business owners and individuals to help them find a more productive and successful relationship with their computers and other high-tech gadgets.

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