Every internet service provider (ISP) that I’ve ever used (or anyone I know has used) provides you with an email address. It’s usually how you log into their website to access your account information, pay bills online, etc, so it makes sense that they do this. However, I’m going to take a stand and say dont’ use it!!!!
You might be asking “why not?” Well, the only reason you really need is the fact that you might switch ISPs at some point in the future. If you switch ISPs, what happens to your email account? Some ISPs might let you keep it, but it’s not really in their best interest to provide that service when you’re no longer paying them on a monthly basis. As anyone who has done it can attest, it’s a pain to change your email address.
Think of the hundreds of friends, family, websites, retailers, etc. that use your email address to communicate with you. Do you really remember every important website or service that you registered your email address with? They probably include your bank, utilities, social networks, shopping websites like Amazon.com, entertainment services like iTunes and Netflix, your college or school, your employer, various reward/loyalty clubs for stores, and the list goes on. If you switch ISPs, you’ve got to log in to each account and update your email address. What a pain!
I have yet to see an ISP’s email services match the feature set of top webmail services like Gmail.
IMAP vs POP3
Email services from many ISPs only support the POP3 standard instead of the IMAP standard. IMAP allows you to sync your email across multiple devices like your smartphone, desktop PC, laptop, tablet, etc. Any change you make on one device, such as deleting a message, will be reflected on all of the other devices. It also supports most email functions like moving messages into folders.
POP3 is more limited; it simply downloads a copy of an email when you open it on a device and either deletes it from the server (so it is only accessible on the device you first viewed it on) or leaves a copy on the server (so when you delete it from the device you viewed it on, it will actually still be on the server and all of your other devices).
Lack of Additional Features and Services
Does your ISP’s email service offer automatic message labeling/sorting, lightning-fast search and filtering, or value-adds like a calendar or task list? Probably not. Enough said.
I was talking to @drgolden about my idea for this blog post and he brought up a point that I hadn’t considered. Many people, particularly those in a tech industry, might get the impression that you aren’t very tech savvy if you’re using an ISP’s email address instead of your own domain or a more advanced webmail provider.
A Better Email Solution
So, what’s the alternative? Use a webmail service like Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail. If you want my recommendation, use Gmail, period. There are plenty of other alternatives, but Gmail continues to add features that make managing email easier and faster.
If you can’t stand the thought of not using your ISP’s email service (I guess some people figure you should use it if you’re paying for it), relegate it to the purpose of signing up for services and websites that you think might send a lot of spam. Then if you decide the website or service is OK, you can update your account with your primary email address.
Do you use your ISP’s email service as your primary email address? Do you have a favorite webmail service? Let me know in the comments!