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The Advantages of Owning Your Own Email Address

Posted on 28 July 2011

I’m posting this as a follow-up to the debate. I’m doing it because I think there are a lot of people who may not realize there are implications of who your email provider is beyond functionality and perception. There’s also the matter of ownership.

When your email address ends in a domain owned by someone else, they control it, not you. I’m not saying that in a sinister “they’re gonna steal your identity!” sense but in the simple they can lock you out of it if they want to or if they have to or by mistake sense.

I think most people understand that with company email addresses. For example, my email is used to identify me as a member of the CBC. It was given to me by the CBC, and if I were to leave the CBC, they would have every right to take it away or lock me out of it. I don’t work for them anymore, why would I be using an email address that makes it look like I do? That’s why I only use the CBC email address for CBC-related work.

I also have a email address. Since I double as the tech guy there, I have a little more control over where it goes. But if I give a DJ a email they can expect to lose access to it at some point in the future if they cease working with CFUR.

I’ve lost access to both my and I get to keep my email address as an alumni of the university, but at some point they may decide they don’t have enough storage space and kick out everyone who isn’t a current student or faculty member.

My point is, I’m fairly certain everyone has experienced and is aware of the company-controlled email and the limitations of keeping this email address as you move on to new jobs or schools, which is why they sign up for Hotmail or Yahoo or Gmail to be a personal email address for use with friends and family. But those have limitations, too. Microsoft may shut down Hotmail. Yahoo has shut down other properties in the past. Gmail looks pretty slick now, but you may stop liking it in the future, or you may be tired of Google throwing ads at you. And in any of these cases, you’ve got a problem: someone else has your old email, and someone else has your email address.

Worse (in my opinion) is the personal address given to you be internet companies–,, that sort of thing, because they are dependent on you being a paying customer. If you use them for your primary email, it becomes more difficult to switch providers or cancel the service altogether. It’s kind of like only receiving mail so long as you keep using FedEx, even if Purolator is giving better rates, because you don’t want to switch mailing addresses.

I’m by no means an expert, but the best analogy I can think of* is that using these other providers is like having buying a PO Box at your neighbourhood post office. You get mail sent there, you can read it, and move it around. But if you leave it in the PO Box, you don’t own it yet. The post office could shut down, throw it out, change the lock. Or you might want to switch to another post office.

Getting your own email domain– something like– costs as little as $10 a year, and has the advantage of being yours, which you can point anywhere. And it never sounds unprofessional, unlike free services which, as we’ve seen, can start to fall out of favour.

Again, I’m not suggesting anything sinister here. Pretty much every provider gives you a way to transfer or download your mail right now, and likely will into the future. But it’s worth thinking about– especially since so many people I talk to aren’t even aware of this. For anything important, it’s always worthwhile to have an exit plan.

Further reading:

Let us pay for this service so it won’t go down –

Filed under: technology

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