I host this blog with my own domain (while redirecting URLs bearing my
deadname former names to this one)…and use this domain to handle my emails.
Because I was late to the name game, getting my name registered with one of the big free e-mail services was impossible—I was able to register one with iCloud (Apple’s free email service) with a period separating my personal and family names, but had to dispose of it after registering with a service that soon spammed my inbox—after 20+ years of using email and never having had to face the dreaded spam issue most others do, I was getting 100+ spams a day; no matter how many filters and rules I set up, my inbox was overflowing. So…after migrating all my saved emails to my custom email address, I deleted the iCloud one.
I used a service for years to host my own email that was independent of all the Big Tech firms, that only focused on email, that allowed to freely switch between Apple and Google. All my calendars, reminders and tasks, documents, photos, and other data could easily be hosted on and converted between the two major services, but I always kept my email hosted separately. It was a barebones service that worked with all e-mail standards, so I was able to use any third-party client of mt choosing. (I really wish k9 mail was on iOS; I thought it was far superior to the default Gmail app every time I used Android in my life.)
After a year of custom domain hosting being available on paid tiers of iCloud+, I finally decided to port my email hosting to iCloud myself. I use Apple’s default mail app—despite the security tip that it’s best to not keep all your eggs in the same basket, which I’ve done for years, I ported over. It’s just way cheaper to host on the 50GB tier than anything else out there. (It’s like $1/month, compared to the $6/month on Gmail.) I can create and delete forwards through iCloud’s Hide My Mail or my custom domain easily, revoking or deleting them if I end up getting spammed or no longer wish to use a service. Any device I upgrade or add to my iCloud account will automatically load my email, without having to go through the additional rounds of also making sure my email login credentials were copied correctly. I have push notifications again, rather than having my devices push every 15 minutes or so; a drain on the battery, but all my devices got large batteries that I’m not worried about drainage issues. My contacts are now consolidated into one service, rather than being split between two contact lists. And unlike the split between Google Workpaces and using Gmail, where if I hosted my own email I couldn’t add anybody to my photos album or documents and instead would have to create a duplicate Google account just to do so, I am hosting my own custom domain but can still add friends and family who have their own iCloud account.
Those of us who are Generation X and Millennials were able to claim our names as usernames if we were lucky—now we have Gen Z coming of age, but are unable to register their names as email accounts, because if their names are common, said “usernames” were already claimed, because Google, Microsoft, and Apple don’t release usernames of dead or deleted accounts for “security” and “privacy” reasons. (Yahoo! did to the chagrin of security “experts”, but I don’t recommend their email service because they charge for a ton of features that other free providers don’t charge for, even for IMAP [desktop/client] access!) Transgenders and transsexuals who change their name often can’t register their new names (or the companies won’t even allow for email addresses to be changed and thus force them to start whole new accounts, losing access to tons of stuff they’ve paid for; pictures and documents can be transferred, but not game and library purchases!).
I know paying for a custom domain is a luxury know many people can’t afford—or if they have a common name, the .com for their name is probably already registered as well, or like me have to pay a premium to claim it—yea, I mean there’s plenty of TLDs, but most of us default to .com when trying to remember URLs and emails. (I still don’t regret paying over $3000 for using my name with a .com extension.)
As “outdated” as email is often called, it’s still integral to the Internet. Notifications, signing up for services, keeping in contact with others. Unlike platform-tied direct messaging, if you pay for your own domain and host your own email, those conversations stay with you wherever you go (so long as you know how to migrate email; if you don’t like one free service and want to go elsewhere, you can still migrate, set up email forwarding for future retrievals, and if it’s possible set up the “reply-to” during further correspondence to redirect to your new email address). As I’ve also become jaded by social media as well, I’ve been scaling back on using DMs and using email (along with texting/iMessage) to keep in touch with loved ones.
I may be old-school in my reliance on email, but it’s still a core feature of the Internet. I chose to switch hosts for better convenience and integration with my devices, besides saving a few extra bucks each year in hosting costs. I use forwards and aliases like crazy to keep my accounts a bit more secure, and it’s just easier to set up, edit, and revoke on iCloud. Less need of logging in to a separate website to tinker with settings, when I can just go into the settings menu of whatever device I’m on to complete a task.
Maybe I am still a bit of a tech enthusiast, just not the kind that plays around with cell phones anymore. It’s just that the Internet of today is more complex than when I first went to college—and I don’t plan on returning to school to become a web developer, designer, front-end or back-end specialist…it’s just too complicated anymore.