If you spend enough time online, sooner or later you’ll wish you had a disposable eMail account, or, a way to track whether or not someone has “shared” your eMail address.
Maybe you want to subscribe to a mailing list for a weekly newsletter about collecting antique thimbles. Perhaps you want to sign up for a discussion group on a Web site devoted to planting peach trees in your living room.
These days, giving your personal eMail address online implies a leap of faith. You’re trusting that the site you’re giving it to won’t sell or share it, and won’t get hacked due to lax security, revealing your closely guarded personal information. Disposable eMail is a very useful tool to add to your online defense against SPAM and other eMail abuse.
If you didn’t know about disposable eMail, you might have gone through the trouble of creating a new Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail account just for that rare occasion when you didn’t want to give out your primary eMail address. That’s doing things the hard way. Disposable eMail is an easier solution to protect your primary eMail address from a flood of unsolicited eMails without jumping through so many hoops.
If you do a simple search of the term “disposable eMail” in your favorite search engine, you’ll be rewarded with quite a list of Websites there for the purpose of conveniently providing disposable eMail. Many of these sites let you create a disposable address on the fly, without having to first create a temporary eMail account somewhere on the Web.
There are two types of “disposable” eMail address. One involves the use of a disposable eMail account or inbox. The other involves adding characters to your original eMail address, if you have a Yahoo, Gmail or other eMail account that allows this convention. Convenient to this discussion is the fact that Google provides both types. So, for the purposes of this article, I will use Google’s disposable eMail solutions as examples in this blog.
The mark of a good disposable eMail address or inbox system is it’s simplicity. Google’s system is wonderfully simple. It’s called MailDrop and, like most disposable eMail sites, it’s free.
To use a disposable MailDrop eMail address, simply put whatever you want in front of the eMail domain @maildrop.cc, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. For example, you’re making a purchase at dedFlowers.com, but you don’t want to receive any further contact after your purchase. So, instead of using your real eMail address, you type in email@example.com.
Then, to see any response to that eMail address, you go to MailDrop.cc, click in the eMail address window, type “anyname” and click Go. You will then be taken to the mailbox called “anyname.”
“Anyname” is just an example, of course. You can use whatever you want, including only numbers, if you like. You could use firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com. You can put anything you want as the eMail address, followed by @maildrop.cc. Then, go to the MailDrop website, put in the e-mail address, and you can see the contents of that inbox.
The one caveat to be aware of is that virtually anyone can go to MailDrop and type in the same eMail address, like abc123, and access the contents of the mailbox just as you can. There is no security, no privacy. The only measure of privacy would be to use characters in your eMail address that no one else is likely to use. If you use a bizarre or random string of characters for your eMail address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, it is not likely that anyone is going to guess that eMail address, unless purely by accident. (That’s just an example. Don’t use those actual characters, now that they’ve been published on the Web!)
Some online eMail accounts allow you to add characters to your original eMail address and still receive any responses to your inbox. You can do this with Gmail.
With a Gmail address, you can add the plus symbol (+) after your eMail name, and whatever characters you want after your eMail name and before the @ symbol. Replies will still come to your Gmail inbox. In other words, Gmail will ignore the “+whatever” part. Some examples would be email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
However, some Web sites won’t allow the + symbol as part of a legitimate eMail address. So, Gmail also gives you the option to place periods (.) anywhere in the eMail name and it has no affect on the modified address other than to make it look different.
For example, the original eMail address firstname.lastname@example.org could be submitted as email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or any combination of periods placed within the original eMail name. Responses to those eMails will reach your inbox, because Gmail ignores the periods.
Why would you want to do this? To track your eMail address, or to sort your eMails as they arrive to your inbox. With Gmail, you can create new folders and set eMail filters to divert eMails with different return addresses to different folders within your inbox. It’s much easier than it sounds.
One thing I like about Gmail is that it has one of the best eMail filter systems of any online eMail provider. By using a disposable eMail address and Gmail filtering, you can prevent eMail from ever being seen, or divert eMails to a folder other than your inbox.
As an example, if you use Gmail’s throwaway eMail address system to make a purchase at dedFlowers.com and you alter your eMail address to something like email@example.com, you can then setup a filter in Gmail to divert any eMail with firstname.lastname@example.org in the return address to a separate folder, to the trash folder, or to simply delete it. You can do the same with email@example.com.
So, going back to the antique thimbles analogy, while signing up for the newsletter mailing list, you might create a throwaway eMail address something like firstname.lastname@example.org. If you later receive an unsolicited SPAM eMail with that specific return eMail address, you know the owner of the antique thimbles newsletter was either hacked due to lax security, or shared your eMail address to the sender of the SPAM eMail. So, you cancel your subscription to the newsletter, setup a filter for that disposable eMail address and never deal with that lousy antique thimble site again!
Yahoo Mail also has both a disposable eMail solution and eMail filtering. But, in my experience, it’s not as easy to use or as efficient as Gmail. For one thing, Yahoo doesn’t allow you to make up a throwaway eMail address on the fly the way Gmail does by simply adding a plus (+) sign or periods (.) in the original eMail name. With Yahoo, you have to setup your disposable eMail address before you can use it. That’s not always convenient.
As I said previously, there are several Web sites that provide instant disposable eMail for your convenience. Each site is different, offering their own unique features
Below is a list of 10 Web sites that give you a temporary eMail inbox and needs no registration or sign up:
- Mailinator – top rated disposable eMail services that gives you a temporary mailbox using email@example.com
- MyTrashMail – a good temporary mail service that gives you a mailbox using an active eMail domain that changes annually. They also offer secure temporary mailbox if you signup
- Jetable – eMails can be forwarded to your real eMail account and eMails expire in the time you set
- GuerillaMail – disposable temporary eMail address provided
- 10MinuteMail – generates an easy 10 minute eMail inbox for your temporary eMail needs
- GetAirmail – standard temporary eMail service
- ThrowAwayMail – generates a temporary eMail, instantly accessible, and only you can see the eMails
- YOPmail – free, quick and feature rich temporary eMail service with choice of alternate domain names
- Disposable Inbox – free, private 24 hour disposable eMail addresses
- eMail On Deck – excellent site for private temporary eMails