IT’S GEEK TO ME: Changing email providers Part 1

Geek Note: This is part 1 of a 2-part column on switching to a new email provider. The second half will publish next week.

Question: Cox Cable is forcing me to switch to a different email provider. I’m not sure what I need to do. I use Outlook for my email and I thought that was all there was to it. So, what do I need to do? Should I try Yahoo! Mail (which Cox suggests I use) or a different provider? I googled Email Transitioning to Yahoo and found a document that says Cox will send me an email with a link to have my emails available to be transferred to a provider that I choose. I have not received any email from Cox that I am aware of. What do you suggest I do? Maybe I should start by contacting Cox and see if they will send me the email. Thank-you, Mr. Geek.

– John H.

Crestview, Florida

Answer: It seems like this is a very hot topic this week! Besides this question, I also saw discussions of this same subject on social media, where I invited the participants to watch for this column.

I can think of many reasons why one might want to switch email providers. In Reader John H.’s case, he is a victim of Cox Communications’ decision to cease providing personal email addresses as part of their role as an Internet Service Provider. I presume this is a cost-saving measure on their part, but to me, supplying email service is a strong incentive to stop customers from beating feet for the door, for the exact reason we’re having this discussion: because changing to a new email provider is a non-trivial undertaking. In the end, my recommendation is to establish your email base in a place that is not linked to your ISP. That way, if something happens (you choose to switch to a different ISP, or your ISP drops email as a service) you won’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to maintain email continuity.

In the case of Cox, they are recommending people switch to Yahoo! Mail, but this is not a requirement. You are free to pick any service that you like, and there are many to choose from. Do a web search for “Free email providers” to see some options. I highly recommend you choose a service that supports the IMAP protocol, which I will be discussing in more detail in the second half of this column. Another primary factor to consider is how much storage comes with your account. When done properly, all of your email will reside on the provider’s server, and more storage means you can retain more content. There are other factors to consider, which other Geeks have done a pretty good job of explaining. Rather than trying to wedge it all into my column space, I’ll instead refer you to the article at which contains a whole lot of good information for those looking to switch email providers.

So, the first step in this process is to go and establish your new account. Using the guidelines in the above article, pick one you think you can live with, because hopefully you will have that address for a good long time. You will prove-out my statement when you start to do the part of the switchover that we haven’t even talked about yet, and that is informing all of your family, friends, and every single e-commerce site and web page where you have an account that you have a new email address. You might be surprised at just how many that really adds up to.

As for the actual method for moving your old emails to your new account, that will be in Part 2 of this column. Tune-in next week, and in the meantime, keep those questions coming in!

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