Take back control of your email address

Photo by erica steeves / Unsplash

The internet initially started out in a decentralized way. Everyone was encouraged to run their own web services. And among the limited number of users, a lot of them were able to. But as time passed by, more and more corporations took advantage of the internet and contributed to its centralization.

Personal blogs became Facebook, the Usenet became Reddit, XMPP turned into messengers like WhatsApp. And of course there is email. Even though it is based on open protocols and therefore decentralized at its core, it has long stopped fulfilling its initial vision. Services like GMail or iCloud dominate the email provider landscape and leave little room for other providers.

This creates multiple problems directly affecting you. For one, it shouldn't come as a surprise that these companies are actively spying on you, amassing data on everything you do on their platforms. Besides that, you're also creating a reliance on the provider.

All the online services you register for are bound to your email address. And when that email provider disappears, you lose access to your online accounts or in the best case scenario have to go through a lengthy recovery process.

You can tackle both of these issues by signing up for a privacy-respecting email provider and combined it with my own domain to be able to switch email provider in the future.

Switching Email Providers

There are many email providers out there, but not many that actually care about your privacy. One of the best resources on this that I've found is privacyguides.org and their list of private email providers. Pick any provider you like, but it is preferable you choose one that supports custom domains.

Registering a Domain

Make sure your email provider actually supports custom domains. The list of email provider I mentioned earlier clearly indicates this.

Imagine you registered the domain example.com. You can then use [email protected] as your email address. Ultimately, this allows you to be more independent of your email provider, as you can just switch to a different provider later on while still keeping your email address intact.

There are dozens of domain registrars and a quick online search will lead you the right way.

Email Cloaking Service

When signing up for an online account, you almost always have to provide an email address. You forget about and a few years later that services gets hacked, and you're now receiving the latest dietary plans and money gifts directly into your spam folder. Great.

Fortunately, there are services which allow you to create a unique email address for every online service you use. That unique email address then forwards all emails to your actual email address. Should you ever receive spam through the generated email address, you can simply deactivate it. And poof - the spam is gone.

These are the email cloaking services I currently know of:

All of these services can be used for free under varying conditions. They are all open-source, which means that you can also run one of them for yourself. If you have the knowledge to do so, this is the best option.

Bringing an End to your Email Nightmares

In case you followed the above steps, you now have a functioning email address using your own domain and an effective method of combating email spam.

Email isn't perfect, and it probably will never be. But we can at least try to make it a tiny bit better.

Future Entrepreneur. Interested in tech, finance and becoming 1% better every day.