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24 November 2005 @ 06:28 pm
It's Thanksgiving Day and my father just called. It's always wonderful to talk to him on the telephone. Mostly we stay in touch by email. Every year my father and my step-mother go from New York down to Florida for the winter. That means he has to change Internet Service Providers (ISP's) every time he moves. I bought him a webtv for Christmas one year so he would use MSN in Florida. Then in New York he used a cheaper ISP for his PC. So, twice a year we get the same thing. We don't know his email address until he gets set up in the new location. I keep telling him to get a free email account and use that all the time, but you know parents! LOL!

I thought for this article I would tell you why to get a free email account so you don't have to worry when you change Internet Service Providers (ISP).

My first (ISP) was Earthlink. I liked Earthlink especially when they gave me free service for a while. I worked at Discover and got a few dollars knocked off the price of the service, which was really nice. But then the cost of their service went up. No one can predict when the cost of their ISP will go up making it cost effective to change providers. Beside they were dial-up then and I wanted more speed. Now I had to get a new ISP and that meant a new email address.

A local company came into American Fork, UT (my home)and set up cable lines for a new internet company AirSwitch. I loved the service, no more dial-up and was really sad when about a year or two later it went out of business. I guess the cost of putting in the cables was to much for them. No one can predict when your steady, safe liable ISP will get sold off and change names. Especially if you have a local ISP. I had to quickly find another provider. The situation was totally out of my control and I had to change ISP - which meant another new email address.

About this time I realized my kids where on to something. (Can you believe that!) They used Hotmail, a free email provider. I originally didn't see the sense in using it. Why we had email accounts provided with our internet service. Why would anyone need to get a free email account? (Other than hiding their emails from Mom.) One reason was to prevent heart failure and stress when that ISP and your email address had to change. It was at this time I decided since I have to try out new ISPs I might as well get a free email account and just give that out to others.

The action of getting a Hotmail account has been a very wise move. My ISP has changed several times and I didn't have to tell anyone to use a new email address for me. But the biggest help has been posting on message boards. Do you realize how much trouble it is to let everyone on genealogy message boards know your new email address? Especially if you ask lots of questions and really want to have an answer. With my hotmail address people can always respond to my query and I will get notice of their posting. Even if they post a responce months or years later.

So why do people continue to change email addresses all the time? I think the first is lack of knowledge of any other way. The second reason is a fear of the unknown. How do you get your email from a free email account provider? That answer is really very easy. You log onto the providers website and sign in and read your email. That gives you another great reason to have a free email account. When you travel you can always go to a public library and sign onto the providers website and look at your email.

I now have MSN as my ISP, I really like the fact that they have their own browser and I don't have to use Internet Explorer/Outlook Express. (That's a whole new subject.) With MSN I can have all my Hotmail email accounts available through their browser, no need to log onto Hotmail's website. (BTW MSN owns Hotmail.) Now you don't have to use only Hotmail there are several other great free email account providers out there.

Here is a list of the top free email account providers I would recommend.

1. Hotmail - http://www.hotmail.com, Free web-based e-mail (able to check your email from any Web-enabled PC). 25MB e-mail storage, signatures, stationery, HTML compatible. Size of mailbox will increase to 250MB after 30 days. Offers spam/junk filters and virus scanning and cleaning of emails. Can send up to 10 MB files and photos. Dictionary/thesaurus/spell check, address book, calendar. Just hit the "Sign Up" button and it will walk you through the steps to getting a free email account. Need to log into the account at least every 30 days to keep it active. (I think you have to do that with most providers.)

2. Gmail by Google - http://mail.google.com, Free webmail service with 2GB of storage. You need to be invited by someone or use your mobile phone to get a Gmail account. The reason behind this is to make it harder for spammers to get a Gmail account. It helps protect users and combat spam and abuse. When you sign up with your mobile phone you will receive a text message with the invitation code. If you don't have a mobile phone ask a friend with a mobile phone to receive an invitation code for you. You can also ask a friend who already has a Gmail account to email you an invitation. You can remove your phone number at any time by editing your Google account profile. One phone number can be used to create 10 accounts. I think personal invitations are up to 100 accounts. I hear it has a wonderful search feature. People that have it love it. I might get myself one just to use the great storage ability.

3. Yahoo - http://mail.yahoo.com/ Free, reliable, and easy to use. You get 1GB email storage. Message size up to 10MB. Can access anywhere you have a web connection. Great spam protection. Virus scanning and cleaning. Built in spellchecker. 15 filters to stay organized. Address book. You can have an email alert sent to your mobile phone to let you know you have a new email.

There are other providers if you want to compare plans go to Free Email Address Directory at http://www.emailaddresses.com/ they have an almost complete list there with reviews. They must of overlooked Gmail because I can't find a review for it there. I would recommend that you NOT go with a small unknown provider. I would be afraid that they would go out of business or change names and leave you with the same problem as before - having to get a new email address.

The last "free" email provider is your web domain host. When you get your own website domain name you usually get from one to several "free" email addresses that match your domain name. When I purchased just the domain name for http://www.harrisena.com it came with the offer of one free email address. I picked renee@harrisena.com. The domain name cost me about $9.00 a year at http://godaddy.com. It cost much, much more to buy the hosting of the domain. (I use Freepages at RootsWeb for my host, because it's free.) Anyways the point is you could always keep paying for the same domain name and use your free email address option. This would be one sure fired way to keep the same email address and have it under your control. Of course it's not free there is a charge to buy the domain name. So if you have a website and want to buy a domain name you can get a free email account to use with it. I guess the only draw back to me using it is emails are forwarded, to any email address you choose, and not available from their website. It wouldn't have the ability to keep your address book for you.

I like the comfort of having my address book available online for safe keeping and easy access. One nice thing about a free web-based email account is you don't have to worry about copying all your email addresses down and changing them. I remember when I used Outlook Express and I had to get a new hard drive I lost all my addresses, which is a real bummer. When it's web-based you can access your email and the address book anywhere.

You know you don't need to only have one free account. I have three different email addresses serving different functions.
1. I have an email address for correspondence.
2. I have an email address for genealogy mailing lists I subscribe to.
3. I have an email address for storage (mostly zip files of my genealogy databases).

So what are the main reasons for having a free email address?
1. Your address will remain constant even if you change Internet Service Providers.
2. You can access your email from any web-connected computer.
3. Your email address book will always be available to you.

Well I hope that clears things up for you. I had to much turkey this Thanksgiving so I might of missed something. Let me know if you have any questions you can always find me at my email address zamora05@hotmail.com, it's not going anywhere - even if I do!

Hopefully I will see you tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!
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