UPDATED 02/11/17

Throughout 2017, there has been news of email hacking and vulnerabilities – you can use the website ‘Have I Been Pwned?‘ to check if your email address has been included in any of the public email ‘dumps’ over the last few years. If it has, this post will run you through the process of migrating to a new email address and securing yourself!

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Many of us, myself included, have an email address that we hate but are still forced to use. Whether you hate it because ‘funkyguy2008@webmail.com’ isn’t something you want to put on your CV, because you don’t like your webmail provider (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo etc.) or simply because it just gets inundated with spam from years of website signups is irrelevant. If you hate you’re email address, get a new one and be responsible with where you use it. But it’s not that easy, is it?

I’ve recently went through the process of doing so – here’s my tips to make the transition a nice and easy one. You’ll want to keep access to your existing email address for now at least.

As always with our posts, the links posted are not endorsements and we do not gain any benefit from them – we’ve genuinely found them useful and we hope you do too!

1. Choose a new email provider

If you’re creating a new email because you hate the service you use now, it’s time to research who you think is best. Of the larger companies, Google’s Gmail is my preferred option for their extensive spam filtering and the ability to quickly tie your Google Docs, Slides and Sheets to that email.

As a techie, I also decided to go for Gmail because of the ability to easily setup domain names with G Suite’s MX Records. For a few pounds, I purchased a domain name that I wanted, i.e. petersemail.co.uk to use for email and signed up for G Suite at a cost of around £4 (including taxes) per month. For that cost I get 30GB of storage space for emails and the security of Google – easy to configure two-factor authentication, etc. I could then use Gmail to manage my emails, but also have the unique email address of peter@petersemails.co.uk.

For the sake of this post, I didn’t really register petersemails.co.uk but did create a new email address with a domain name, this is just an example address to show what you can do!

2. Create the email address

Having done your research, it’s time to dive in. Registering a new email address through most companies is trivial – you’ll typically be asked for either a phone number or a backup email address that can be used to authenticate who you are and can be used to recover your account if you ever forget your login credentials. Since we’re looking to get rid of our old email address, it makes sense to authenticate by phone.

In a few minutes, your new email address should be good to go. You’re well on the way to escaping that old address!

3. List where you’ll need to change your email address

Accounts on almost every website require an email address. Whilst you’re creating a new address partly to escape spam and the emails from most of these sites, there will undoubtedly be some that you still use. Here’s some examples that you may need to change. Remember to check your ‘Email Preferences’ within each site too – it’ll help you cut down on marketing and non-important messages.

  • Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest etc.

Whilst some of these require a username rather than an email to login, if you forget your password then you’ll most likely need access to an email address to recover the account.

  • Finance – PayPal, investment portfolio sites, Internet banking, mobile phone carrier.

Essentially, any company that sends you e-bills, statements, renewal notices or important information will of course need your newly created email address.

  • Subscriptions – Apple, Spotify, Microsoft

Websites that you have a subscription with for services like Apple Music or Microsoft Office 365 will need your most frequently used email address. Again, they’ll send you bills and need this email address to recover lost passwords etc. If you’re an avid Apple user like me, you’ll most definitely want to change your Apple ID and re-login to each of your Apple devices.

  • Key Services – education and health.

Does your school/college/university/doctors practice contact you using a private email address? They’ll need your new address.

  • Travel & Commuting – online bookings and garages.

If you’re a frequent traveller, you’ll want to make sure that your most recent bookings and any future details are received by your new email address. For drivers reading this post, car garages, insurance providers and breakdown cover companies use your email address to send information rather than via post. You may get email alerts to warn you that your car is approaching it’s due date for an MOT. Even the DVLA can contact you via email if you choose to tax your vehicle online.

  • Other Favourite Websites – online shopping.

All of your most frequently used websites that require an account would be best to be notified of your new email. Shopping websites of all types are typically reliant on an email address to contact you with order confirmations etc. Even websites that rely on a username will require an email as backup if you lose your credentials.

  • Newsletters

Not all newsletters that hit your inbox are spam, so you may wish to either sign up again with your new email address or change your subscription settings to send to a new email address. For me, this was the Smashing Magazine e-shot and Gary Vaynerchuck weekly digest but it could be from your gym, favourite companies, charities or other organisations.

  • Family, Friends & Colleagues

Can’t forget about them, unless that’s what you’re trying to escape. Remember to notify close friends and family of your new email address. You may choose to share it with colleagues or just leave them to contact you through your work email address.

4. Update your accounts

Most websites make changing your email address easy. There’s typically a ‘Settings’, ‘My Account’, ‘Preferences’ or ‘User Details’ pane that quickly lets you change this information. Websites such as Apple will email your old email address to notify you of the change and also email your new address to verify it’s still you, so it’s good to have access to all of your email accounts for the time being.

Some services such as insurance or banking may ask for you to contact them over the phone and confirm your identity before changing your email address – this may seem like overkill, but remember it’s your money and your protection on the line.

Whilst this can feel like a bit of a time consuming process, it’s worth it in the long run.

5. Set an auto-response on your old email

Most major webmail providers allow you setup an auto-responder. Essentially, every email that reaches your inbox is sent a response message immediately. You may wish to setup a message similar to the one below on your old account.

Thank you for your message. This email address is no longer in use and is therefore checked infrequently. If your message is important, please contact me by other means. I will reply to your message when possible.

Note that the message above does not share your new email address or any other means of contact. By now, you will have updated your acounts and shared your new email address with those who you want to be contacted by, so sharing your address in an auto-response only opens yourself up to more spam, making the whole process pointless.

6. Transition to your new email address

It’s now safe to use your new account as your daily email address, so put it to work!

With that said, it’s always possible that someone or something of importance has slipped through the net and still uses your old email address as a main method of contact.

For the first month of creating a new email address, check your old one on a weekly basis. This gives you the opportunity to catch any important emails you’ve missed fairly quickly and contact the sender with your new information.

For the next two months, check your old email address fortnightly. By this point you should be confident that anything of importance will reach your new email address but it’s sensible to check every few weeks “just incase”.

For the next few months check your old email address monthly. After three months, you should have all of your accounts, even the ones you missed initially, sending to your new email. Checking monthly is a sensible option going forward for upto the next 9 months in case you’ve forgotten anything that renews annually.

After one year, you’re good to do. Having periodically checked your old email even for annual reminders and updating your contact information where relevant, you should be ready to completely rely on your new email address.

7. The aftermath of your old email address

Some webmail providers offer the ability to ‘deactivate’ or delete email accounts, which you may wish to do. I’d recommend against this as even though you don’t regularly use this old address anymore, you may still want to check it every few months for periodic messages.

You could even use your old account to sign up to websites or newsletters initially to test the content – if you decide the emails are good, update your preferences to your new account, if not then just leave it to send to your old one.