These days, when you sign up for Internet service from any Internet Service Provider (ISP), you always get at least one e-mail account. Some providers will give you ten or more accounts with your service. In my opinion, they could give you eleventy billion accounts and you shouldn’t use any of them as your primary address.
So why do ISP Provided E-Mail addresses suck?
1. Having an ISP provided address as your primary account makes it harder to switch.
In St. Louis, the two big players are Charter & AT&T for Internet service. In my opinion, one does a much better job at providing reliable service. No names, but the better service provider in the STL Metro rhymes with JB&B. I couldn’t tell you too much about the quality of their support because the only time I’ve had an issue since I signed up was fixed by a modem reset.
So let’s say you didn’t have such a good experience with your provider? Let’s say they promised to show up between 1-5 pm and never show and fail to adequately address your support issue and you are thinking about switching. Are you more or less likely to switch if all your friends and loved ones know you by your charter.net address? Probably not.
Switching is a pain. Knowing that you have to setup a new email address only complicates matters. Having an ISP Independent Address makes it much easier to switch. You can drop that old provider like a bad habit and never skip a beat in regards to e-mail.
2. ISP Provided Domains are Usually Ugly and Hard to Remember.
In the 314 area code, you’ll end up with a charter.net or a sbcglobal.net address. Both of those domains are bad. They are both .net addresses (harder to remember) and sbcglobal is just awful really, more so since SBC is now a thing of the past.
Most of the free email services are well known, short and easy to remember .com addresses. yahoo.com, gmail.com, live.com, hotmail.com are all better than charter.net or sbcglobal.net
3. Your email experience will (usually) be less enjoyable with an ISP provided account.
Between the two of aforementioned providers in St. Louis, AT&T offers better email service from my experience. They have partnered with Yahoo to offer their e-mail. And Yahoo does a good job of providing a feature-rich experience. Charter’s e-mail service in my opinion sucks. It’s like you were transported back to 1999 for a feature list. Blech!
This is understandable from a cost perspective of the ISP. They have no motivation to spend money to extend an e-mail system that functions the way it is.
4. For the times when you have to use their email address.
There are instances when you have to use the account they gave you to access additional features that come with your Internet service. For instance, AT&T provides a free Flickr PRO account to subscribers (although, I believe they stopped doing this in April 2008). To access this PRO account, you have to use your firstname.lastname@example.org account. So by all means, bite the bullet and get the most from your service by using these free add on services.
So if I shouldn’t use my ISP provided email address as my primary address, what should I use?
Regardless of the area in which you reside, it is in your best interest to use a non-ISP e-mail provider like Gmail or Yahoo mail. There are a host of these services out there and as long as it is independent of your ISP, you are in much better shape.
I use Gmail, love it and would highly recommend it and most other Google services. I’ll cover my love for Gmail and other services in later posts.
* Note: In this day and age, people are likely to have more than one email address. I have at least 10 email accounts, but use a standard Gmail for my primary account that I use on a daily basis for 99% of all email related tasks. Regular day-to-day usage is what I’m talking about when I refer to primary accounts.