Sunday, March 2, 2008

Changing Gmail Email Address

A year or two ago I got an invite for a gmail account. I wanted to try it out, so I signed up (arolson@gmail.com). It was pretty nice, but I wasn't willing to give up my old hotmail address- who wants the hassle?- so I left it alone. I never really used it for anything. I would occasionally check in on it, and, to my amazement, the spam messages kept rolling in. I've never given it out to anybody (except my sister, who sends the occasional message), and yet there were hundreds of spam messages in the spam box, and dozens of spam messages that made it through into my inbox.

Contrast this with my hotmail account, which I've had for about 6 years. It never gets spam. That's the email address that I give out to friends and family, sign up for forum accounts, and order things online. It's great to not get spam- my spam filter is set to do nothing. I never need to check through the spam list to see if it caught something it shouldn't have.

I think that the difference between the two is the format of the email address. The hotmail one, rather accidentally, has a number at the end- username1234@hotmail.com. The gmail one doesn't- username@gmail.com. My guess is that smart spammers take lists of known email account names and try them in different domains- there's a username@yahoo.com, so they try username@hotmail.com, username@gmail.com, etc., since there's bound to be some hits. But username1234 is probably not in their lists at all. And taking a all the known email account names and adding numbers (especially a couple digits) probably gets too prohibitive (until they read this post and adjust their strategy).

So I've had it with this gmail account. I want to sign up for a new one and use all its sexy IMAP compatibilities. So I sent myself an invite, and created a new gmail account. That's the easy part. The hard part is migrating all the services that I use over to it.
  • blogger
    I found instructions (http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=41448) on how to transfer a blog from one account to another. Just invite the new account to participate, set it as an administrator, then you can remove the original account. It gets more complicated if you want to change ownership of all the old posts, but I don't think it matters to me, as this blog is pretty much just for me.

  • google bookmarks
    I use the google toolbar for firefox, and have recently started getting into using its bookmark capabilities. You can export your bookmarks as an html file, but I couldn't find how to get google to import that html file. I did find a site (http://use.lifeslip.com/yourweb/) that could do it for me, preserving all the tags.
All seems to have gone smoothly. With IzyMail forwarding my hotmail to gmail ($10/year; I'd rather have found a free alternative [that I don't have to run myself], but I can pay that), ScheduleWorld acting as my SyncML server, syncing Outlook, google calendar, and my wife's computer (soon: gmail contacts), things are pretty good. Advantages:
  • I can access my email anywhere
  • if my laptop doesn't have internet access, I can still access old emails
  • My calendars and contacts are synced up and backed up online (in case of computer failure)
  • my hotmail is forwarded to gmail, so I don't need to change my email address
  • I can use any email client (Outlook, thunderbird, work or home), and switch at any time (without having to import old email)

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