Interestingly this topic spans the divide between our interest as innkeepers and Peter’s interest as a Mac computer consultant. As innkeepers we interact with over 99% of our guests by email at some point in our relationship with them, which gives us some perspective on how email is used. So on to the advice…
You use email on your personal computer (hopefully a Mac but we know there are still some PC users out there!) where you are in control. So why let someone else choose and control your email address? Strangely many people do. The fact is that you have no control of the permanence of your address if it is provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider), or if you use an address from your current employer for personal email.
What happens when another ISP offers you a better deal and you switch, or you move home and have to change ISPs? Or, as often happens, your ISP or company changes name as a result of an acquisition? Or you change employers? Your email address changes and you are one of the Internet’s “lost”. You then have to scramble to tell all your friends and associates your new email address, and just hope they update their address books. By a rough estimate about half of our guests face this risk judging by the email address they have on file with us.
There IS a better way. Choose an email address that is independent of your ISP and employer. This address can stay with you for life and it has no relationship to where you live or work.
There are numerous choices and most are free. The best known are @hotmail from Microsoft and @gmail from Google. Also many groups offer permanent addresses – for example Peter has had an @ieee address since he started using email and Susan has always used an @mac address. Both of us have used email while living in several different countries and using services provided by numerous ISPs, and never have had to change the address our friends and family use to reach us.
When you change ISPs you can simply forward YOUR permanent email address to the address your current ISP has provided – use them as a delivery mechanism, NOT an address. (Make sure your email client is set to use your permanent address as the “reply to” address.) While you can access your email from any browser when you are traveling, you are not constrained to the limitations of browser based access when you are at your own computer; you can usually directly access your email provided by e.g. hotmail and gmail using your favorite email client.
One other piece of related advice: using your company email address for personal matters – like reservations at West Hill House – can be a problem in addition to lack of permanency. Your employer is unlikely to sanction this use of their resource, they almost certainly are monitoring and logging your email, and some do block email that is electronically determined to be personal. If you need to access personal email from your office, using hotmail, gmail or most other similar addresses will give you full access from your browser, keep you in control, protect your privacy – and maybe your job!
And if you do change email addresses, please let us know!