E-mail Providers

Addresses supplied by your Internet service provider

When you sign up with an Internet service provider, they’ll provide you with at least one e-mail address. It’s fine to use such an address for receiving bills for your Internet service, but it can be unwise to use it for anything else because it can ‘lock you in’ to a specific provider. If you decide to switch to another provider when your current contract runs out, your original provider can pull the plug on the e-mail address(es) they allocated to you, and if you’ve become reliant on such address(es) this can be awkward. You might even end up deciding to stay with your current provider, even if you don’t really want to, just to avoid losing your e-mail address(es). Having said that, some providers allow you to keep your e-mail address(es) after you’ve finished taking your Internet service from them, by continuing to pay a small fee.

Addresses independent of your Internet service provider

To avoid getting locked in to a specific Internet service provider, you can get a free e-mail address from a reliable, independent third party. There are literally hundreds of free e-mail providers, but two that you can rely on are Google and Microsoft. Google provides a service called ‘Gmail’ and Microsoft provides a service called ‘Outlook’. If you sign up with Google then your e-mail address will look like ‘yourname@gmail.com’ and if you sign up with Microsoft then your e-mail address will look like ‘yourname@outlook.com’. A specific advantage of these services is that they’re very well known, so if you have a question about them, someone’s bound to have the answer. If you have difficulties with some of the lesser-known e-mail providers, you might have trouble getting help from other users. I have e-mail accounts with both Google and Microsoft, though I use the Microsoft one as my main e-mail address (there’s no harm having more than one).

A particular problem with BT e-mail

If you have an e-mail address at ‘btinternet.com’ and don’t use it for 90 days, BT will ‘de-activate’ it and delete all the contents, even though your Internet service contract is still running and you’re still paying for it as agreed. In July 2017 some customers of mine were unable to access their BT e-mail account and asked me to look into it. Due to illness they hadn’t used their BT e-mail account for some time, and I was unable to use the ‘My BT’ account management facility to ‘re-activate’ the e-mail account using the method described in BT’s online help. However, an online chat with BT followed by a telephone call from them made it clear that everything in the e-mail account had been deleted after 90 days of inactivity and couldn’t be recovered. Unsurprisingly, we decided to forget about the e-mail facilities provided by BT and set up a Gmail account instead.