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Old 20 May 2022, 02:11 AM   #1
TenFour
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Unique username instead of domain name

An idea that I have found works for me and might help some people. Over the years I have tried out a bunch of various free email services and I have managed to sign up for several of them using a unique, distinctive username. In other words, my email address might look something like this: [email protected]. I think it is almost as good as having your own domain for email, and maybe even better for some people. For example, I have a bunch of domains with no associated website, so the domain part being unique isn't really any great advantage to me other than being able to use short, memorable usernames. The problem I find is that no matter how short and easy to spell my own domains are people type it in wrong all the time, plus I have to purchase and manage domain email someplace. However, I also have my unique username at major and minor free providers, including Gmail and Outlook.com. Since we English speakers read from left to right that is the first thing someone sees when looking at the email address, and to me it looks and sounds pretty distinctive. If for some reason one free email poops out or changes terms I can easily switch to another provider, while still keeping my distinctive username. Thoughts?
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Old 20 May 2022, 04:15 PM   #2
pjroutledge
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How do you handle correspondents who use a particular one of those email addresses but that particular email address poops out?

The main advantage of a domain - to me - is the portability (in the event of a 'poop out') with correspondents not even realising that anything has happened.

(Having said that, I've also managed to secure a particular username with several providers, although where possible I've tried to use an obscure username for logging on and then claim the distinctive address-name as an alias.)
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Old 20 May 2022, 07:19 PM   #3
TenFour
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Quote:
How do you handle correspondents who use a particular one of those email addresses but that particular email address poops out?
So far I have only had one email service go under, and that was way back in the day with one of the first, tiny local ISPs. Back then email wasn't used for much so it wasn't a big problem. But, I would have to contact my most important contacts and let them know my new address if this happened. Frankly I mostly do this with major providers that are unlikely to go away. Actually, many of the contacts I have done this with have my unique username with a custom domain that I control, but then I can reply from any of my other addresses and it looks like me. Only rarely has anyone even noticed or commented on it.
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Old 20 May 2022, 07:58 PM   #4
FredOnline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
An idea that I have found works for me and might help some people.
I've been doing this for years, using the format 'UniqueUsername' not only for e-mails (I couldn't get it in Gmail unfortunately) but also for domains, social media, etc.
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Old 20 May 2022, 08:06 PM   #5
TenFour
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I've been doing this for years, using the format 'UniqueUsername' not only for e-mails (I couldn't get it in Gmail unfortunately) but also for domains, social media, etc.
Yes, I got in on Gmail early enough to get my UniqueUsername, and I also got firstname.lastname usernames for everyone in my family except for me! However, if I were starting off today I might instead create a UniqueUsername that obscures who I really am. As long as it's distinctive the actual meaning of names seem to be rather irrelevant today. Look at all the company names that mean nothing to most people: Google, Zoho, or Apple are memorable but don't really tell you anything about what the company does.
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Old 22 May 2022, 10:10 AM   #6
jeffpan
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good idea by OP. I like it.
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Old 23 May 2022, 04:54 AM   #7
hadaso
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Twenty years ago I collected lots of accounts with my preferred username. But eventually I got tired of having to manage so many accounts, and saw no point in having to receive mail at many different places. Eventually I aggregated everything in (almost) one email account, and the easiest way to do it is with my own domain name.
I still use mainly one local-part in many domains, but they are all subdomains of my own domain.
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Old 23 May 2022, 11:31 AM   #8
truemagic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hadaso View Post
Twenty years ago I collected lots of accounts with my preferred username. But eventually I got tired of having to manage so many accounts, and saw no point in having to receive mail at many different places. Eventually I aggregated everything in (almost) one email account, and the easiest way to do it is with my own domain name.
I still use mainly one local-part in many domains, but they are all subdomains of my own domain.
Same here. I finally got a custom domain for my email and consolidate all of them in one provider (and using AnonAddy on top of that). Now I'm enjoying emails again
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Old 24 May 2022, 07:53 PM   #9
TenFour
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Eventually I aggregated everything in (almost) one email account, and the easiest way to do it is with my own domain name.
I still use mainly one local-part in many domains, but they are all subdomains of my own domain.
Sure, you can use a UniqueUsername with your own domains too! A lot of us here on EMD seem to do a lot of different things and have multiple email addresses and domains for various things, but with the UniqueUsername approach we can still be easily identifiable no matter which project we are dealing with.

Another topic, but I am not so sure that owning and using your own domain for email is as secure and reliable as many here seem to assume. There are many ways to lose control of your domain, and it adds at least one or two service providers you must depend on and maintain service with. The other day I was surprised to find something important (not a domain registrar) was being renewed even though the service was on autopay with an expired credit card. It was lucky it went through, but made me realize how many important things depend on credit cards and expiration dates. Something like a domain registrar, that you likely don't log into very frequently, yet contains lots of complicated and important information, becomes vulnerable to hackers, viruses, etc. simply because it is out of sight, out of mind. Using domain email your domain registrar becomes the single most important vendor, at least to me, in my cyber security world. Choose carefully!

One of the easiest mistakes I have made many times is to create a unique email address for some domain I own, then forget about it and accidently delete that address on my end. Using only a few UniqueUsernames with whatever domain helps prevent this. For example, you might use a particular UniqueUsername for subscriptions to newsletters, another for credit cards or banks, and maybe another for really throwaway forum registrations. But, I wouldn't create unique addresses for each registration--too large a possibility of losing access to that unique address.
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Old 24 May 2022, 08:01 PM   #10
FredOnline
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I don't have any of my domains on autorenew, the important ones (to me) have a long way to go before expiry.

Also, all my domains are listed on a spreadsheet that's I'm regularly opening/updating, so I will immediately see any due renewals.
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Old 24 May 2022, 08:12 PM   #11
TenFour
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I don't have any of my domains on autorenew, the important ones (to me) have a long way to go before expiry.

Also, all my domains are listed on a spreadsheet that's I'm regularly opening/updating, so I will immediately see any due renewals.
You are organized! Of course, what happens to your domains if you are hit by a bus? I am of an age where I have seen several close friends suffer catastrophic sudden health events that left their spouses with lots of problems, including trying to figure out their digital lives. My wife would have no clue what to do with domains and email. Yet, so many things depend on being able to access that email. I am determined to not let happen to my wife and children.

But, even short of expiry, there are lots of things that can go wrong. I receive constant scam emails and even snail mail trying to convince me to transfer or "renew" domains my business owns.
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Old 25 May 2022, 10:52 AM   #12
JeremyNicoll
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Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
The other day I was surprised ... autopay with an expired credit card.
I have, for many years, kept lists of which companies know the numbers of my various plastic cards. When I get a new card, I work through the lists updating those companies who'll register revised details - of course some won't until I actually make a contemporary purchase with them.

I also keep (in a desktop reminders program) reminders of every soon-to-expire subscription etc, so that a few weeks before they do expire I can check my notes to see if there's some process I need to go through to check the company concerned has the details they'll need. I have separate reminders for the expiry days themselves so I can check if payments actually worked.
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Old 25 May 2022, 11:05 PM   #13
SideshowBob
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An expired domain isn't immediately permanent. For example at Namecheap you get 30 days after the domain stops working where you can renew at the normal rate, and it isn't actually auctioned off for at least 70 days. YMMV, it's a good idea to check your registrar's policy.

All of this depends on your missing the multiple emails telling you your card has been declined in the week before the domain expires.
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Old 25 May 2022, 11:36 PM   #14
TenFour
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An expired domain isn't immediately permanent. For example at Namecheap you get 30 days after the domain stops working where you can renew at the normal rate, and it isn't actually auctioned off for at least 70 days. YMMV, it's a good idea to check your registrar's policy.

All of this depends on your missing the multiple emails telling you your card has been declined in the week before the domain expires.
Agreed! But, it is still another thing to keep track of. I don't know about you, but I receive so many daily notifications of this or that going on with various digital services that it is easy to become complacent and overlook something. Using free email providers has its risks too, but it is unlikely one of the biggies will end your account as long as it is reasonably active. Gmail and maybe some others has an Inactive Account Manager you can set up to give trusted people access to your account if for some reason it goes inactive.
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Old 26 May 2022, 06:47 AM   #15
SideshowBob
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Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
Agreed! But, it is still another thing to keep track of.

I don't bother, most of us only need one domain for email and don't see it as a matter of life and death. In the unlikely event I missed all the warnings, my email would stop, I'd notice and I'd fix the problem. Since my DNS is with the registrar, my expectation is that it would be restored within an hour or so of my noticing. It would be annoying, but only comparable with one of Fastmail's historic outages, not with the loss of a domain.

I use my domain for most things, but I still use a few free addresses. A couple are tied to Android and Windows accounts, I also use a separate gmail account for posting to mailing lists. Part of the reason for this is privacy, I don't want someone I know putting my domain into a search engine and reading everything I've posted (most people here don't use their full real names).

Reusing a distinctive local-part can also potentially leak information about identity when a website is hacked. It wouldn't surprize me if some people who opened dedicated accounts for Ashley Madison got caught out that way.

More generally splitting your email between multiple accounts, without a good reason, sounds like a lot of hassle.
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