HAVE YOU been taken hostage by your email? Forced into a digital dark place while a king’s ransom is extorted monthly by direct debit?
It is a crime against the computerati and I’m always banging on about it; I make no apology for doing so again. As a Digital Consultant/Alpaca Keeper I see too many customers handcuffed to their Internet Service Providers via their email addresses just to stand idly by and do nothing. I want to help you escape.
So here are the questions you MUST ask yourself. . .
HOW DID I GET INTO THIS MESS?
Well, you’ve been with your telephone and broadband supplier for so long (you probably began your online life with them) that changing providers seems such an upheaval. Besides, you are chained to the email address you chose when you signed up with them: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or one of dozens of others. So when, out of the blue, comes a stunning introductory approach from one of those ‘others’ offering you 500 channels of Jeremy Kyle-style TV and a ‘Whoopee Cushion World Cup sport channel’ for an amazing £20 a month you are stuck. It’s a fantastic offer all right, but what about your email address, tied as it is to your lifelong provider?
Move and you’ll be lost to all your virtual friends and to all those online contacts carefully nurtured over the years. The prospect of being digitally reborn in cyberspace as Norman.firstname.lastname@example.org is enough to make you slump back into your captor’s clutches.
SO HOW DO I GET AROUND THE EMAIL PROBLEM?
You are changing more than your broadband and phone provider: this is the first day of your new ‘virtual life’. What you must NOT to do is take up your new provider’s offer of an email address or it’s ‘Groundhog Day’ next time you jump ship.
What you SHOULD do is look for ‘non-supplier’ alternatives. Gmail, for instance, is what we alpaca farmers call ‘fremail’: you can have a Gmail email address and 15GB of storage that is free and ISN’T tied to your broadband supplier. On the face of it, a win-win. . . or is it?
Well, there’s a catch. Take a quick look at this brief, witty explanation by Aral Balkan. Gmail isn’t so free after all. The company reads every email you receive in order to target relevant advertising around the emails in your web browser.
The CIA love it, the freedom fighters hate it. Sadly, the naïve customer unwittingly sides with the CIA, because ‘it just works’. And, should you transfer to them, good ol’ Gmail will also import all the emails from your old provider for a period of up to three months. So what’s not to like?
Well, do some research. Plenty of other email providers offer variations of the above; Outlook is possibly the best ‘fremail’ around at the moment – but only if you can stand being bombarded with advertising and by Microsoft trying to sell you more services. Every day.
SEEMS BETTER. BUT WHAT IF I WANT TO RUN TRULY WILD AND FREE?
If you really want total control and avoid this mess altogether then BUY YOUR OWN DOMAIN. Between us, my wife and I own several: www.ministryofdoing.co.uk is the point of contact for my computer and digital consultancy and I use a variation of my surname for personal emails Meanwhile, Farmer ‘Jinglis’ herself shepherds inquiries about her alpacas to www.blencogofarm.com This is how we control our data. No one can take away our website or email address and no one except us controls them.
SO IF THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT: Look at a domain name provider such as https://www.fasthosts.co.uk/. Domains are cheap. For £6 a year and a couple of quid per month you can buy a personal domain that will house your OWN email. You will be ‘free’, you’ll be truly individual with your own domain and email address.
More importantly, you can never again be taken hostage by a broadband or telephone services provider.