How can a domain name make managing my email easier?Answered February 12, 2012
Over the years, I've used a variety of services as my primary e-mail account...starting with an account at Iowa State, then moving on through Rocketmail, Yahoo Mail, two accounts at UNI, Mediacom, Hotmail, and Gmail. I've probably even forgotten a provider or two. But for the last 13 years, friends and family have only ever had to use a single address.
That's because I bought a domain name for myself way back when Bill Clinton was still in the White House. And because I own a domain name, I'm able to direct any email sent to an address at that domain to wherever I want. So no matter which of the different providers I've used to *read* the email, nobody has ever had to change the address they used to send it to me in the first place.
What you might not realize is just how cheap and simple doing the same thing for yourself can be. Domain names can be purchased -- some might say "rented" -- for about $10 a year. A lot of people have been drawn in by services like GoDaddy, but I can tell you from personal experience that you're better off using a service that doesn't try to lure you in with swimsuit models. I've been very happy with a provider called PairNIC for the one or two dozen domain names I manage myself. They've been reliable, customer-friendly, and never flashy -- but most important, they haven't tried playing games with the domain registration, like I've seen others do.
So, for about $10 a year, I'm able to create an unlimited number of email addresses and forward them wherever I wish. This might come in handier than you expect -- when you're signing up for electronic newsletters, it's nice to have the option to point them to a different inbox than the one where you get your email from Grandma. It's helpful, too, to be able to separate regular personal email from the messages you get through Facebook or Groupon. And sometimes, you just need to give out a "throwaway" address -- one where you're not concerned if it falls into the hands of spammers. Owning your own domain name allows you to create as many throwaway accounts as you like.
It can also be impressive -- professionally speaking -- to hand out resumes and business cards with a unique and personal address. Imagine how much better it looks to hand out a resume that says "firstname.lastname@example.org" instead of "email@example.com". Again, you don't have to be technically savvy to set up a domain name, or to forward that email. The domain-name services are in the business of making that task easy for people of every skill level.
There are plenty of other reasons to own your own domain name as well, but the value of controlling your email is alone enough to justify spending 83 cents a month.