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Why you should get an e-mail alias

What is one of the worst things about moving? For me, it's having to fill out all those change of address cards for every magazine subscription, credit card, catalog, and friend we know that will be sending us mail. Wouldn't it be nice to have a permanent mailing address that you would stay with you for the rest of your life? No more missed bills, letters from friends/family, issues of your favorite magazines. This would be great. The only problem is it's not feasible. Why not? It takes a while for a piece of mail to get to you in the first place. Now imagine it having to go to a permanent address and then get sent from there to wherever you may be. Not only is it slow, but I'm sure it would cost quite a bit more.

So you can't do this with snailmail (U.S. Postal Service), but you can do it with e-mail! Speed isn't a factor anymore. E-mail is almost instantaneous. You may have a delay of a few minutes if backbone traffic is really heavy, or if the alias e-mail provider has a slow connection, but that isn't really much to worry about. What about cost? There is always a cost involved. You may never see it, and you will most likely will not be able to figure out who will, so it's nothing to concern yourself with.

An alias e-mail account serves a few purposes. The most important being the above example. Another, is that alias e-mail addresses are generally much easier to remember. Let's take for example a fictitious ISP provided POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3) e-mail address.

<yourname@hidog.gamberton.or.jp>

Getting someone to remember this address in passing conversation could be difficult. That's where the easy to remember alias comes into play. Here are a few examples.

<yourname@biogate.com>
<yourname@usa.net>
<yourname@hotmail.com>

See, much shorter and easier to remember!

Besides being free, one reason to have multiple alias accounts is to use them for different purposes. For example, you might use the biogate.com as your lifetime address that you give to everyone. You then might use the usa.net address for mailing lists and newsletters that you subscribe to. Finally, you might use the Hotmail account as a spam catcher for when you are required to provide an e-mail address on those pesky on-line forms.



The different types of alias accounts

  • Forwarding - The whole purpose of this type of account is to forward messages to whatever address you designate. This is the type of account that you want to use for your lifetime address.
  • POP3 - This type of account can be checked with an e-mail program like Outlook, The Bat!, Eudora etc. It works just like your ISP's POP3 account.
  • Web Based - These are good if you need to check your e-mail, but will not have access to anything other than say a library computer with a web browser.

I suggest getting one of each. Why? Well, let's look at this scenario. Everybody sends mail to your forwarding alias, which then sends it to your normal ISP address where you check it with your e-mail program. Let's say that you have to go on a trip. If you will have access to a private computer with a POP3 account, then you just edit the configuration of your forwarding alias to send mail to the POP3 account (you@subdimension.com for example). Now let's say that you will only have access to a web browser where you are going. You edit your forwarding alias to send all of your mail to you@hotmail for reading with a web browser.



Where to get the alias accounts from

Ok, you're saying. I've got the point, so where do I sign up? Here are some places to look. I'll explain just a few of the ones I like (I've tried a really good number of them, so you can benefit from my experience.)

  • Forwarding aliases

    The best that I have seen is at http://www.netforward.com. They have a good number of domain names to choose from. This is the part that follows the "@" in your e-mail address. For example:

    <vbok@biogate.com> or,
    <vbok@biosys.com> or,
    <vbok@cryogen.com> etc...

    You can also get a web page alias from here. Instead of typing something that looks like this: <http://www.someplace.com/~myname/index.html>

    You can get an alias that looks like this: <http://www.biogate.com/myname>

    This way, no matter where you move your web site, people can always find it with the alias.

  • POP3 aliases

    The one I like the best is at <http://www.subdimension.com>. They are very fast and generally reliable. There have been times where they were down for quite a few hours. However, they don't munge your mail (adding extra junk like advertisements) and are free.
  • Web browser aliases

    Pretty much all of them are the same.
    <http://www.geocities.com> or,
    <http://www.hotmail.com> or,
    <http://www.usa.net> etc...

 

Final recommendations

One I will recommend that does all three types of accounts is at http://www.geocities.com. Geocities is a good catch all place that is really great for newbies too.

You can get all of the following from them:

  • Free POP3, forwarding and web browser alias (you configure your account for which ever you want.)
  • 11MB free web site space to put up your web pages. You have to let them display ads on your page, but that's about par for the course. There is also quite a bit of support for help on building your web site.
  • A host of other services.

If the above doesn't suit your needs, then check out these others at the sites listed in the database below.

http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Vista/8015/free.html


Play around with different options and alias hosts. When you find the combination that works best for you, then send an e-mail to everybody in your address book to notify them of your new, worldwide, lifetime e-mail address. Good luck.

 

 

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