These days, we use our email addresses as a form of online identity. You don’t want your digital identity to be owned by an ISP, DSL, or cable company whose service you might wish to cancel someday. Your email address goes away when you cancel, with forwarding usually not provided. I know people that are hopelessly stuck paying AOL or Comcast every month because of such lock-in. Silly as it may sound, it can be a big problem if you end up having a hundred online accounts tied to that email address.
The free email companies (gmail, yahoo, hotmail) are only somewhat better, in that they are at least not charging you for the lock-in experience. But the lock-in principle is the same. With every online account you tie to that email address, you lock-in even tighter to that address.
Here is how to own your own identity: Buy your own domain name, and pay for professional email hosting. Neither of those services is locked to your email address. Both are seamlessly replaceable if you find a better deal. Your email address remains your own.
Additional benefits are that you get to choose a personal or professional sounding email address, and you will never need to change your email address ever again.
Here’s what I did:
- Register your domain name (about $9/yr) at GoDaddy. (more on GoDaddy below)
- Sign up for “Individual Email at Your Domain” (about $11/mo) from LuxSci. Using this link gives you 5% off. (more on LuxSci below).
- Once you are logged into GoDaddy, choose “Domains->My Domain Names” from the menus.
- Now in the “Domain Control Center” select your domain.
- Click on “Total DNS Control and MX Records”.
- In the “MX (Mail Exchange)” section, add three new MX Records (delete any pre-existing MX Records). Your MX records should correspond to the instructions in the setup message you get from LuxSci, and may look something like this:
Priority Host Goes To
15 @ yourdomain.com.inbound15.mxlogic.net
25 @ yourdomain.com.inbound25.mxlogicmx.net
35 @ yourdomain.com.inbound35.mxlogic.net
- You are done! Test your new email, both sending and receiving. Be aware that it can take anywhere from 0-3 days for your new DNS changes to fully propagate through the net (this is a normal property of how DNS works).
I have been using godaddy for the past two years, and have no affiliation with the company. It is mass-consumer oriented, so you have to be careful to avoid buying many of the unnecessary extras they are pushing. If you can live with that, you will find a good value and full-featured domain management tools. I have also dealt with their customer service twice, and without any issue.
Here is what you can expect (based on my experience):
- ~$9.20 for a .com domain, plus ~$7 more for private registration, which I added.
- Complete control of your DNS (in this case we need the MX control)
- No hassles transferring domains in or out. (I’ve tested both).
I have been using LuxSci for two years. I provide a coupon code (BUNGEE) for a referral program that gives you a 5% discount and me a 5% commission. However, be sure that if I ever stop using LuxSci as my email hosting provider, I will immediately stop recommending them in this way.
Note on Both GoDaddy and LuxSci: Each of the two companies will actually provide both domain registration and email. Not surprisingly, each of them only does one service best, so I can’t recommend either as a one-stop-shop. Below are details of how each company offers the corresponding service.
GoDaddy does offer an inexpensive email service, but since GoDaddy’s email does not include IMAP, I chose LuxSci instead. IMAP is the full-featured mail synchronization protocol that lets me keep desktop, and mobile, and web mail readers, all in sync. POP is a half-baked protocol, but often offered because its much cheaper to provide that IMAP. Life is too short to waste time with POP.
LuxSci offers a (resold) domain registration service. From what I can see, it is more expensive and less full-featured than registering at GoDaddy. In theory, you could save a step and register your domain at Luxsci, but I have not used their service and cannot make that recommendation. Share your experience if you do.