Advice for changing to a new email address – myfirstname@mylastname.com
September 6, 2018 8:48 AM   Subscribe

I’ve had the same email address for a very long time (associated with a local ISP who do email forwarding). For a number of reasons, I’d like to start using a new address at a domain I own: myfirstname@mylastname.com. I’m looking for advice and tips on how to transition to a new address. Also advice on using myfirstname@mylastname.com as an email address, when there are other people in the world with the same last name as me.

The old address is a nice, short address. But it’s forwarded from a domain I don’t own. Increasingly this causes all sorts of problems with deliverability, both inbound and outbound. It also looks a bit unprofessional (I use this as my main address, for personal email, and also for work email as a self-employed person).

The new address is myfirstname@mylastname.com (I have an unusual last name).

I have a few q’s:

- Have you changed from an old address to a new one?

- What are some tips for doing that?

- How do you alert people? Or do you even need to? Do you just start using the new address?

- Are there challenges in changing addresses I might not have thought of?

- Is there any easy way to update the millions of accounts I have, to start using the new address?

Bonus q:

- I own mylastname.com. I worry a bit that if I start using myfirsname@mylastname.com , it’ll be perceived as sort of unfair or unkind by others (mostly my own relatives) who have the same last name. I don’t want to feel like a domain squatter, monopolistically using a last name that also belongs to others. But I also don’t want to set up email addresses for various relatives (because I would have to become the support person if something goes wrong). I’m looking for advice, or experience from people with an address of the form myfirsname@mylastname.com
posted by ManInSuit to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I use an email of the form firstname@lastname.com with a very unique last name (<100 or so people in the USA with the last name). I can't answer your first questions as I never used any other email address in any professional capacity. I can answer this one:

I worry a bit that if I start using myfirsname@mylastname.com , it’ll be perceived as sort of unfair or unkind by others

I thought this would be a thing, but it hasn't been. In the last 12 or so years I've had the email, I think it has come up in my family only a handful of times. It's always been in the context of "that's neat", but never a suggestion of setting up an account. I've actually offered it a couple times to relatives that have a professional connection to the name (specifically law firms). They've all preferred to have an account managed by them and not me.
posted by saeculorum at 8:54 AM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Unless you have extremely tech savvy, self-brand oriented relatives, they likely will not care that you have a domain with your last name. My parents and I have our own, and our relatives either think it's neat or don't care one iota.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:08 AM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


You may be underestimating the challenge of changing all your accounts. Email address is the primary key for almost every web property. It's also the backup security login. And sometimes, your email address is also literally your user name.

So looking forward to if someone has a good solution. A password manager like 1Password or LastPass will help you keep track of your account migration. But short of manually changing it on every single place you have an account, I can't think of a way to do it. Realistically you probably need to keep the old email address working for at least a year.
posted by Nelson at 9:23 AM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I also have a unique last name and own my lastname.com domain.

I hooked it all up to Google Apps for Domains (or GSuite, or whatever it's called now) and never looked back. Like Hermione, I've had some family members interested in having an account but the vast majority just don't care. They're happy with crazycatlover29436@aol.com or whatever they've been using for the last 20 years. Or they do ask, I set it up, and then they neglect it because of the above mentioned hassle of changing everything over.

I've always felt that owning the domain also carries the responsibility of allowing other family members into the system if they ask. Using something like Gsuite makes administration pretty easy, but you'll still get requests to reset passwords and whatnot. It's the price you pay for the cool email address.

GSuite can also cost money if you are using the paid system, like $5/user/month, so there's that issue to deal with if it comes down to money.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:27 AM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I use lastpass pretty religiously. So that should give me a list of all my accounts. I was hoping there might be some easy way to change them all, but I guess there is not.

Also: I can keep the old account running indefinitely (and probably will). I just want to transition to the new one as my primary.
posted by ManInSuit at 9:28 AM on September 6, 2018


My sister owns hermarriedlastname dot com and uses it for her immediate family only (herself, my brother-in-law, and three kids, all firstname@). I already hosted my own email so I administered it for her up until a couple months ago. My brother-in-law has four siblings. As far as I know most of them didn't care at all, and the ones who did care never made a fuss about it. I think one brother said "oh, you're the one" when he found out, but that was more that he wondered who beat him to it, not that he felt entitled.

About twice a year there would be a bounced email to one brother (always the same one), but I don't think he ever asked if he could have an address. I think some person or machine just assumed once, and a couple times a year there's a bounce because of that faulty assumption.

From personal experience: if you're worried about deliverability, don't host your own email. The landscape has changed a lot and reliable delivery is too expensive and too labor intensive. I own a few vanity domains and I've switched almost all my regular email use to one of my Gmail accounts.
posted by fedward at 9:47 AM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just remembered I was so interested in this question I asked it three years ago. Conclusion was "it's not so hard". I never did change my address though.
posted by Nelson at 9:50 AM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


Nelson!! I don't know how I missed that question of yours from three years ago. An embarrassed thanks from me!
posted by ManInSuit at 10:04 AM on September 6, 2018


if you're worried about deliverability, don't host your own email.

To be clear: I'm not planning to host my own. Just to own the domain and point it to a reliable email hosting service. (probably fastmail, which I've used for many years). I assume this is fine in terms of deliverability?
posted by ManInSuit at 10:09 AM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


I assume this is fine in terms of deliverability?

I don't have personal experience with fastmail in particular, but I would assume it's fine, since that's what they do.

One of the big problems with self hosting is that you tend to fail at reputation scoring. This problem is twofold: (1) the most cost effective self-hosting is a VPS from a cheap cloud provider, but that's also the most cost effective solution for quick spam dumps, so you're pretty regularly blackholed because of misbehaving neighbors; (2) you're so low volume you don't really build up enough of an individual reputation with any recipient, and even when you do that reputation tends to fade. Fastmail (or any big dedicated provider) is going to have the economy of scale that keeps their servers off blacklists. They'd lose business if their reputation dropped, so they're also going to make reliable delivery a priority.
posted by fedward at 10:31 AM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


My experience is the same as @JoeZydeco and others. My email is managed by Google Apps for Domains (now GSuite.) I created email accounts for immediate family and although I've nudged my wife to start using it many times, she's just not interested. I expect this sort of inertia is common for most people, so I wouldn't expect a flood of requests. As for people outside our family: you got there first and are legitimately using your domain, so 🤷‍♂️.

WRT transitioning, over the years I've been very selective about where I use my new email and who I give it out to. Once you get on the spam train there's no getting off. I sent an email to a trusted few family and friends who I was confident wouldn't attach me to a massive Reply All email chain, and also started using it for business/professional reasons (our financial planner, accountant, on my resume, etc.) I've maintained my old email address for online sign-ups etc. and it's worked out pretty well.

Another good practice if you want to use your new address exclusively is to sign up to services you're unsure of with firstname+servicename@lastname.com. Everything after the '+' is ignored anyway, but it gives you something to filter on and/or identify bad actors with when you start getting inevitable spam. Most online forms accept this format, but not all. Sometimes I go a step further and give out servicename@lastname.com because I have GSuite set up to dump all unknown recipients into one email account. I can access those emails if I need to, but they don't clutter up my main account.
posted by howling fantods at 10:39 AM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


My primary email account is firstname@lastname.com. A few things that helped expedite the switch:
- When I activated my email account, I auto-forwarded email from my current/old account to @lastname.com and stopped replying to email using the old account. Incoming mail (sans spam) dwindled rapidly.
- Incoming mail forwards to my Gmail account, which is set up to reply using @lastname.com.
- I didn't send an mass email to contacts--I simply started using it as my primary account and updated my email signature, LinkedIn/social contact info, etc.
- For 3rd party accounts (bank, Amazon, Netflix), I updated my email address whenever I signed in to an account profile. I did update my top 10 or so accounts--bank, Amazon, Netflix--right away.
- I still own the old account and check it every so often. It's all filtered spam these days, so it helps to keep it active. You will want to check your spam filter settings to ensure personal emails aren't getting redirected to the trash/spam folders.
- I haven't found an ideal place to point my domain, but intend to stage a landing page with a tribute to our quirky last name--origins, fun facts, a top 10 list of most common misspellings.

I haven't experienced any major delivery issues over the years, even when switching between domain and email hosts. Most delivery problems have been solved by adjusting spam filter settings.
posted by prinado at 10:42 AM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I share a last name with a well-known actor, so he has lastname.com. I have lastnameweb.com - which I've had for 20 years. No family member has ever asked for an email account. I set up accounts for my kids, but they prefer their gmail addresses. My wife is the only other person that uses the domain for email.

I don't think you'll have any family issues.
posted by COD at 11:12 AM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


While not using my surname, which even though uncommon is far too common to have snagged it for my own use, I have used my own domain for much of my mail for the last 20 years.

My favorite bit about doing so are the infinite email addresses at your disposal, since everything addressed to your domain by default is usually dumped in your basic incoming mail folder. So amazon@yourdomain.net, apple@yourdomain.net, anysite@yourdomain.net becomes an option when signing up or creating accounts. Initially I used this to track if email addresses were being sold to other companies and allow me to easily block any sold, but it turns out in all these years that's not really been an issue. Now I just use it for easy categorizing of mails. I like it particularly when not I'm not sure I wish to continue using a service or site since you can easily block anything they send to that address.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:26 AM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have used firstname@firstname.ca for almost 18 years. For a while it was my primary address but now its the one I use when I have to verbally give someone an email address. When I do give it out the other person makes a comment along the lines of that's a neat address and that's about it. I have also purchased the domain for my lastname.com but have done absolutely nothing with it. I have a pretty unique last name and my ideas when I got it were to put up some shared photo albums that my mom, brother, and his family could all use, as a space for the kids to do some web development if they ever got interested in that, and for email if anyone wanted an address of firstname@lastname.com. But I've had this domain for maybe 3 years now and haven't done anything with it except pay.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:22 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've done this twice now and followed the same process as pinado.

One thing to add, configure your email client (if it's Gmail then create a rule to set a label) so that emails from your old address are flagged/coloured/highlighted in some way.

This makes it really easy to spot the emails being sent to the old address and update them.
posted by mr_silver at 2:49 PM on September 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


So I own mylastname.com as well.
One thing I did was to set up forwarders for my immediate family (My wife , myself, and son all have IMAP boxes on the domain as we use it as our primary address...)
I mainly setup the forwarders for my own laziness.. I could not remember which crazy emails were for which family member, so now I don't have to remember. Some have noticed, and asked for a imap box, which I've given them. I see some usage on them, but in 10+ years, I've only really every gotten a request for a password reset, etc maybe 4 or 5 times.
Oh - and if you ever want to give firstname@lastname.com to a younger child... get them a gmail account first to forward to it. My now 16yr old's email is a spam magnet due to all the sites he used it on when he was 13 or so... which kinda defeats the purpose of me owning the domain.
posted by niteHawk at 8:02 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


You may be underestimating the challenge of changing all your accounts. Email address is the primary key for almost every web property. It's also the backup security login. And sometimes, your email address is also literally your user name.

Just logging in at some website using joe@bloggs.com as the username and joespassword as password does not generally require you to actually have access to that mail address (which won't be a problem for ManInSuit anyway). Those access credentials tend to be in the form of an email address plus password combo because that's a simple way for the website to send a setup verification email and password reminders. Usually, as long as you have those access credentials stored somewhere and don't need password reminders sent out: no problem, even when bloggs.com gets its ass laminated and continues as borg.com, or simply ceases to be.

And as long as those websites accept that old set of credentials and you are logged in, there's usually an option to update your account details. Bit of a bugger if you have logins on hundreds of sites, but there's no easy way around that.
posted by Stoneshop at 7:48 AM on September 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, and to answer the original questions: I've changed mail addresses twice - one forced, one voluntarily. The forced one was when ibm.net ceased to exist. That address came into being with me installing OS/2, with the Internet connectivity a promotional option, and existed for a few years I think. Not that long, and certainly well before web commerce really took off, so most of the action I had to take was mailing the people I mailed with more than occasionally, and mostly that was by just changing to the new address and adding a note in the message. Usenet was just a matter of changing the account settings and let people (and their software) deal with it. Address changes were rather common anyway, with ISPs getting borged or going under left, right and center, and people switching providers as cheaper options and, later, broadband became available. So you just looked at the most recent message from the person you wanted to contact, and if that failed you went looking or just went "bugger" and waited for him/her to reappear at a new address.

The other was changing from an ISP-based mail address to my own domain in 1997 or 1998. That was done just by starting to use that domain[0], updating a few relevant addresses and letting the remainder atrophy. The ISP mail address is, like ManInSuit's, still active, and even now[1] occasionally gets mail.

[0] accounts on fora and commerce websites get unique addresses. So far I've had just two of them leaked/hacked, and used by other entities.

[1] Lists containing 20 year old scraped Usenet message IDs interpreted as addresses are definitely still being used.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:23 AM on September 7, 2018


I was trying to de-Google a couple years ago and gave out my new fastmail address to my colleagues when I quit my job. I gradually started changing the address online. It wasn't a big deal, because I still have my Google address, so I can direct people/businesses as need be.

I own lastname.net. My parents and siblings have email @ lastname.net. No one else has ever cared or asked for an email address.

My friend hosts these on his own mail server, so the support load isn't too intense, thankfully.
posted by getawaysticks at 4:44 PM on September 7, 2018


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