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Should I use my ISP email address?

ISP email address
An email address reflects who you are - it's worth fighting for the right one

I’m constantly surprised by how many of my less techie friends still use their ISP email address. Even some techie friends do. But, as you may have guessed, there’s a simple answer to the question “Should I use my ISP email address” – and it begins with N and ends with ooooooo!

Why not? The main reason is obvious. If you use, say, yourname@btinternet.com to sign up for various services then you’ll either need to change your address when you switch ISP – or never leave. Okay, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but ISPs do their best to sink their claws into you, so why lock yourself in voluntarily?

What’s more, having an ISP-supplied email address makes you look amateur. If you provide a service – whether a plumber, childminder or consultant – you should make sure your email address reflects what you want it to say about you.

In short, think of your email address as an advert. Why give free advertising to your ISP?

Alternatives to your ISP email address

The obvious next question is what email address should you use? I’ve already touched upon Gmail, which has the advantage of being a familiar name, being free and offering lots of storage for attachments. But it’s also hard to get the email address you want, and you do sign away significant chunks of your privacy. Google isn’t supplying an email address out of charity: it wants to make money from your data.

If you can cope with an Outlook.com address then this, although the same caveats about privacy apply, would be my preference. Outlook is a Microsoft-provided service that offers all the benefits of Gmail, but because Outlook.com is both newer and less popular than Gmail it’s more likely you’ll be able to find an address you like.

It does have disadvantages – you might not like the rather corporate Outlook.com interface as much as Gmail’s, for instance – but because it’s powered by Microsoft you can be confident your address will be around for a long time.

Finally, there’s much to be said for paying for your own domain: you may find your name, or a variant upon it, is still available to buy. Then you can have john@johnsmith.co.uk (or whatever your name is!) and start to look more professional.

Setting up an email is normally as simple as buying the domain itself, but note that many web hosts only provide a limited amount of storage (say, 2GB, which will fill up quickly with attachments), so check how much they charge for extra storage or be prepared for a constant battle to keep the size of your inbox down.

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About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis.

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