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Change of e-mail address

It seems like some of life's hassles are inevitable; among these are changing your mailing address at the post office and getting a new phone number. Now the 21st century adds changing of e-mail addresses to the list of little hassles. But, it doesn't have to hurt when you change from one e-mail address to another. There are a couple of techniques that you can use to make the transition fairly pain free.

Why would you change?

First of all, why would anybody willingly change their e-mail address? At the very least, dozens of people know you by your old address. For many, that number can range into the hundreds, even thousands. Getting all of them to start using your new address is quite a challenge. And contacting them all individually would be overwhelmingly tedious. There are three major reasons you might change addresses.

Switching to a new ISP

The most common reason for having to change e-mail addresses is that you've been using an e-mail address provided by your current ISP (Internet Service Provider) - which is the company that connects you to the Internet - but now plan to switch to a different ISP. For example, say you've been using an AOL e-mail address for years – perhaps something like Pat5695@aol.com. After you switch to a different ISP, AOL isn't likely to continue providing that e-mail address for you.

Overwhelmed by spam

Another reason for switching e-mail addresses is that your current e-mail address has become overwhelmed by spam. You've tried your best to filter it out, to no avail, and now you've finally reached your wit's end. You'd just as soon abandon it and obtain a new e-mail address that spammers don't know about (yet!?) than continue fighting off the spam you currently receive.

NOTE: To protect your new address from also becoming known by those reprehensible spammers, read TechVille: Spam 101 – Don't let the cat out of the bag

Your own domain

Unlike the previous two situations, which resulted from unwanted circumstances, this is a positive reason to change e-mail addresses. If you obtain your own domain name, you'll have a professional-looking e-mail address that will never change again. For example, if you own the domain YourCompany.com, you could have an e-mail address of PatS@YourCompany.com. Now your e-mail address reflects your company's name – not your ISP's. And that is a good thing (to quote the home decorating maven who's biding her time in prison).

To learn how to acquire your own domain, read TechVille: Does your e-mail address make your ISP a permanent business partner?

Forwarding address

If there's some overlap, where both the old and new e-mail addresses will be active at the same time, you should be able to configure the old e-mail address to automatically forward all of its messages to the new e-mail address. That way you only have to worry about checking the new e-mail address, and, when you reply to those messages, the recipients can see that you're sending from a different address.

Auto-reply

Any e-mail system worth its salt also has a feature known as auto-reply (also sometimes called auto-response). This automatically sends a message to anybody who e-mails your old account. It could be something like "Thank you for e-mailing me. This e-mail account is being discontinued however. My new e-mail address is PatS@YourCompany.com."

WARNING: Be wary of using this feature if you're leaving your old e-mail account because it's been overwhelmed by spam. Doing this could alert the spammers to the new e-mail account! 

Use both accounts

If you are NOT cancelling your old e-mail account, but rather acquiring an additional one, don't think that you have to pick between them. Instead, you can set up your e-mail program (e.g. Outlook, Eudora, Entourage, Apple Mail) to check more than one e-mail account at the same time. Using this method, you don't have to give up the old e-mail account before you really want to – if ever.

Armed with these techniques, changing your e-mail address doesn't have to be a big hassle after all. By using auto-forwarding and auto-reply, you can alert your friends, family, and associates about your new e-mail address and also lessen the likelihood of missing any messages.

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