It’s almost impossible to exist in the modern world without an email account, but many people regret the email address they chose when they first set up their account. Whether it’s because you’ve changed your name, or the email service you are using no longer meets your needs, there are myriad reasons why you might need to set up a new account.
However, when you’ve been using one email address for years and years it can be quite difficult to simply switch overnight. Simply sending a note to all of those in your address book notifying them of the change not only runs the risk of appearing to be spam, it’s also unlikely to prompt your contacts to update your email address in their contacts. As with most tech upgrades, a passive and seamless system works best.
Fortunately, these days many major email servers have a mail forwarding option, which is a seamless way to transition from one account to another. As one tech blogger noted, “Mail Forwarding is an insanely useful, but lesser known, feature that allows you to send on all mails to a particular address, thus allowing you to keep tabs on an old account in the (sometimes years) it takes for people to start using your new one.”
For quite some time, mail forwarding has been a standard feature of most major email servers. It’s especially useful for people who frequently receive emails from senders not in their address book, such as small businesses or independent workers with publicly available email addresses. However, questions have been raised recently in the wake of Yahoo’s reported data breach which affected 500 million users. According to Reuters, the service had appeared to disable the mail forwarding feature, thereby leaving users who want to use another email service without this standard option.
As TechCrunch reported, it was plain to see what Yahoo was trying to achieve: “Disabling email forwarding is a fairly transparent move aimed at stemming a potential exodus from Yahoo Mail to other email providers. Yahoo is simply making it very difficult for longtime Yahoo Mail users to switch to a new service. That, in turn, could potentially keep customers’ accounts active – something that Yahoo may want to do given that Verizon’s deal to acquire Yahoo has not yet closed.”
So, if Yahoo has taken away the ability to set up email forwarding at time when users arguably need it most (if they’ve been hacked, for example, and want to switch email providers) what is the best thing for users to do? There are several workarounds in this case. The first is to set up an automatic responder, informing anyone who emails you that you no longer check this address. Providing them with your alternative email address will then direct them back to you. Though this isn’t as seamless as directly forwarding, it is a surefire way to make sure your contacts update your email address.
Another option is to delete your Yahoo account altogether. This will cause a bounce-back message to be sent to anyone who sends an email to the disabled account. If you publicize your new email address publicly (on your website, for example, or on your LinkedIn page) people who want to get in touch with you will at least be able to find a way. While this option runs a little more of a risk, it may be worthwhile if you no longer trust Yahoo to keep your emails safe after such a serious breach.