I Have Way Too Many Email Accounts
Photo credit: Yannik Mika at Unsplash
I don't mean too many emails, I mean too many email accounts. With emails all up in them as well. I've just got too many email accounts.
Why? Well, I kind of collect email accounts like some people collect purses, or shoes, or salt and pepper shakers. And this past weekend, I finally realized that it's not good.
Why do I collect email accounts in the first place? Well, mostly because I like to try out new email services. Let's face it, since email as a service is kinda boring, most email providers have to market their service as being unique.
You know, the whole, “A Unique Approach to Email” is the headline. And, to some extent, each email provider does do email a bit different than the other. So, I like trying that unique thing. And, over the years, it's translated to like close to 12 different email accounts. <—– I already updated that number like 3 times while writing this post as I keep remembering more accounts I have laying around.
Some accounts I pay for, and some I don't. The ones I don't pay for are an issue because the old saying goes that if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.
But, with a provider like Zoho (yes, I have an account with them), they'll give you a free account and won't do evil shit with your info. But, for places like Yahoo and Google, and even Microsoft, yeah, they do.
I ditched Yahoo years ago after they had the biggest email breach in human history. It's true, look it up. And, I have Gmail out of necessity because, you know, YouTube, but would ditch them entirely if I could – damn those digital crack dealers!
And, with different email accounts come different email addresses. And with different email accounts and email addresses comes email sprawl – email on many different servers in many parts of the world. And because most email providers offer an email migration tool of some kind, I'm a propagator of my own email across different services.
Because it's just. So. Easy!
I've been on a quest to find the email service that won't be evil with my email by snooping on or selling my data. Then, it needs to have function and utility to enable me to manage my email in a way that's fun, or at least in a way I don't hate it.
A huge bonus if the email service is end to end encrypted with zero knowledge, meaning the staff or third party contractors or anybody but me can't read my email.
Each email service tends to have it's own value triangle: Features, Zero Knowledge Encryption, Fun to Use – You can only pick two.
As I'd like to get this post out relatively quickly, I won't go into which service meets each of the elements of the value triangle, but maybe in another post.
For the purposes of this post, I've come to the realization that I have way too many email accounts, and this past weekend I started to do something about it.
I started by first embracing the fact that I can't have all three elements in the value triangle. Then, based on that, I decided that in order to have all three elements, I'll need TWO email accounts. One that does what I want without zero knowledge encryption while being fun to use and fast, and then one with zero knowledge encryption that can at least do the basics without sucking too bad.
I settled on the two that will get the job done for me in the way I need to and want to:
- Fastmail as my daily driver: It's way fast, feature packed, and at least private, but without the zero knowledge encryption.
- Protonmail as my virtual safe deposit box: Stuff I'd only want my spouse, priest, attorney, or doctor to know go in there. I also have their VPN service, so it's kinda free and I get a stupid amount of storage, like 500GB.
And, by doing that, I feel relieved. Like I'm getting a handle on things.
Now, for all the email addresses that I have out there. I'd started using an email masking and forward service a couple of years ago called SimpleLogin.io. It's great because you can create an email alias, on the fly even, for every website you have to sign up for some kind of an online account.
It's also great for signing up for newsletters, basically, anything you have to give out your email address for. Instead of giving out your real email address that they can sell, give them an alias instead.
Then, when that alias email address is sold or compromised in some data breach (which happens daily now), you can easily disable that alias in the SimpleLogin dashboard.
So, just today I had to register for jury duty. On the county's website, I created an alias on the fly of the email@example.com. And now that email alias forwards email to the actual mailbox of my choosing. SimpleLogin also allows you to specify multiple mailboxes to send that email to.
That doesn't really help me as I'm a recovering email account collector, but it's good to know I can do that if I want. So, with that service, I can also give people an email address that I can determine where it lands. It saves people from having to always update my email address, or even have to keep several of them in my addressbook entry.
I just give them one address, and whichever or how ever many email services I use on the back end, all they need be concerned with is the one email address I gave them.
So, the next step is to take the next week or two, and pull all my emails off these other services other than the two I've decided to use, and cancel the rest. Until I fall off the wagon again, that is.
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