Switch email: a reader asks…
I’ve been using email for a lot of years, and never bothered to switch email addresses when I switched internet service providers. I’ve been hesitant because it’s so hard to do. I tried getting an outlook.com email account, but forgot the password and can’t get back into that account (I never setup an alternate way for the forgotten password feature to reach me). I’m ready to try again, but have two requirements: one, I don’t want to use gmail (which I don’t trust), and two, I’d like to have all the features I’m used to at work – using Outlook with email, contacts, calendars and such in one place and able to access that account from my computer, my smartphone, and even from the web if I need to. What would you suggest?
It is always a good idea to have a backup email account that you can use as an emergency contact for your primary email account. There are so many free email services available on the web, so it just makes sense to use one of them as your backup – it can also be a junk email account. Give that address out to commercial entities, and only check that email account when you’re expecting something or looking for something.
It sounds like a hosted Microsoft Exchange service is what you want for your primary email account. There are plenty of service providers who do that, including Microsoft. One I’ve used and trust is Sherweb.com. Creating an account is a three-part process, first you need to obtain an email address (e.g., reserving a domain name), second setting up the email account for your use, and third, setting your computer and devices to access that account. As an option you could also setup email forwarding so emails from your current email account go to the new inbox, but many folks take this opportunity to make a clean break with the old.
Before you contact Sherweb, I suggest you setup your backup email account. While I have no problem recommending a free gmail account for most folks, I understand your reluctance. So pick an alternative – you can create a new outlook.com email account, or any one of a zillion others, such as Zoho Mail. Make sure you remember the email password you set, and you should probably set your current email account as a backup email for forgotten passwords, at least for now. Get that email account up and running, and test it to make sure you can access it before proceeding. You can setup that account and access it through webmail on the computer, and I’d also suggest setting it up on your smartphone.
Next, contact Sherweb (or any other hosted Exchange provider you want). You could do this online, but you could also just give them a call at (855) 780-0955 and they can quickly get things up and running for you. One thing you’ll want to know in advance is: what domain name (the part after the @ in an email address) you want to use. Be aware that this is a competitive business and your favorite domain name may be already taken, so have some alternates in mind when you call. You will also need to give them your backup email address, the account you just set up. And you’ll want to decide on which offering you want (their $7.45/month Exchange Only service is probably fine). If paying for email service is surprising to you, you should take a look at all the features they offer (and you need), it’s well worth it imo. Don’t want to pay for it? Go back to outlook.com and create a new account. If you don’t want to deal with ads and other marketing, try Outlook Premium at $20 for the first year (usually $50/year). My take on this is that it’s worth paying Sherweb less than $90/year for their antivirus, anti-spam and other premium services.
It may take a day or two before your new email account is fully operational – new domain names often take that time for all the internet to get advised of its creation. Sherweb will send you an email (to your backup account) with instructions for how to setup their service on various computer programs, smartphones and tablets. if you get into trouble, their tech support is excellent, and easily reachable, either online at http://www.sherweb.com/ (see the top link “Contact support 24/7”) or by phone at (855) 767-6610. Sherweb is a Canadian company, but serves customers worldwide.
Once your new email account is setup on your computer (Outlook), and smartphone, be sure to test it out by sending the new account emails from your old email account and your new backup email account. Be sure to send emails both ways, including original messages and replies and forwards. I’m sure it’ll work ok, but it’s always good to test things out before you start depending on them. Once everything’s working well, you can stop using the old email account, only check the new backup account occasionally, and start using the new primary account for daily email tasks.
Be sure to notify your family, friends and business associates of your new email address. Don’t give this primary address out to anyone else, give them the secondary email account (e.g., junk email, your new backup account) instead. There is no way you can stop all junk email on the new account, but this should cut down the amount you get. Over time, that email address will find its way to spammers (they have all sorts of ways of weaseling email addresses out of everybody including your friends and family), but you should have several years of a relatively clean inbox ahead of you.