BEYONCÉ is said to have dozens and to change them every week. I have four and haven’t changed them for years.
We’re talking e-mail addresses, which some people change the way others change their socks. Or should. Not mentioning any names.
It’s a surprising half-century since e-mail first emerged, and now we send 50 billion a day, many aimed at augmenting the male anatomy or congratulating you on winning a lottery you didn’t enter.
E-mail has decimated the world’s traditional postal services, and has reached even the middle of the middle of nowhere. Experts say it’s under threat from social media and texts, yet today the world has nearly five billion e-mail addresses, at 2.1 per online user.
But if you’re over 50 and typical, you’ve got just one. Which is a really, really bad idea.
Far from simplifying your life, having just one actually complicates it. Let me give you a for instance.
Buy just about anything these days, from a left-handed screwdriver, to a pack of Meccano-set furniture, and the vendor wants your e-mail address. Officially, for his sales records. Unofficially, so he can swamp you the way Amazon pioneered: ‘If you liked this item, you may like these other seven hundred…’
Buying online is even worse. Even e-mail providers want an e-mail address to be able to give you an e-mail address.
What it all means is the tedious daily click and zap, deleting the average eight spam messages sent a day for every person on the planet.
So here’s this week’s priceless tip. Sign-up for at least one extra, free e-mail address. Dish it out happily to everyone who asks, and keep your ‘real’ address for just friends, family and work.
The biggest advantage is not actually having to download all the junk mail which hits this backup account. That’s because you’re not going to access it with your normal e-mail ‘client’ (programs like Microsoft’s Outlook or Mail, Thunderbird, Apple Mail etc).
Instead, go to its website. Under your name will be a list, still without downloading anything. You can simply go tick, tick, tick against all the junk in the list, skipping any you might actually want to read, and then hit the delete button just once.
Voila – they are consigned to e-mail oblivion. Nothing is downloaded, including viruses. There is no futile, irritating beeping coming from your smartphone. No waiting for spam to creep in at its petty pace, before you can get to that vitally important family or work message.
FREE e-mail accounts certainly cost less than the proverbial ‘dime-a-dozen’, letting you use the service in return for showing you some advertising or harvesting your personal data.
Most providers will indeed let you have more than one address, so in principle if you want multiple Gmail or Yahoo mailboxes, yes you can. Or how about the freebie addresses from your Internet Service Provider, which most of us don’t actually use because we already had an established and portable one?
For an account with an address entirely different to your ‘real’ one, there are plenty of other providers who dish them out like sweets: Yandex, Zoho, Proton, Mail.com….
Sadly, there is some bad news (for me at least) and that is that the best address has already been claimed: firstname.lastname@example.org.