E-mail is one of
those things that you take for granted. Once you have set-up an
address and a client you can reliably receive mail for many years
until something changes.
Over the past 2
months something changed and I almost didn’t notice. There are
certain sites that mail me a few offers, I subscribe to a few
mailing list items, github updates me on a few projects that I keep
an eye on. I don’t get a huge amount of email but there is normally
something being downloaded when I open the client. There were a
couple of days when I didn’t get as much as I expected. Not a
problem as perhaps there wasn’t anything being sent. When this
persisted for a few days I began my investigations.
I was aware of my
web host updating the mail-server back-end. I had received an email
stating that this would be occurring and to expect a little downtime.
But apart from that I wasn’t expecting any significant changes.
Significant changes had happened.
Having a domain name
had allowed me to use a catch-all email address. Any email that would
be sent to the domain after being spam filtered would be received.
This made it incredibly easy to create a new address on the fly when
creating an account for a new service. I had a few actual mail box
addresses in addition to the catch-all. What I had noticed was email
only being received from actual mailboxes and not the catch-all
This was a problem
as I had a few accounts where I really needed to be receiving
correspondence. I needed to get a solution and quickly. I was able to
contact my host and get the catch-all re-enabled. This workaround
allowed me a little more time to arrange a permanent solution.
solution would be to create actual mailboxes rather than rely on a
catch-all system. How many unique email addresses had I been using
over the years? I stopped counting at 114. Creating mailboxes for all
these would be too much effort since most wouldn’t see a large
volume of traffic.
Looking through the
long list of addresses I was quickly able to discard a large number
of them. I had a few that I had used for stores and services that
have since closed down. I shouldn’t be getting any future mail from
these so I have just made a note of them in my spam filter and ignore
them. To reduce the remaining addresses I decided it was best to
create a single mailbox and then update various accounts to use it. I
can then discard the original address. This was a long and time
Currently I have
reduced my 114+ addresses down to a more manageable 25. In an ideal
world I would have been able to reduce it down even more. A stumbling
block was not being able to change my email address on some accounts.
For the ones that matter it was easier to create a mailbox, for the
others it was easier to unsubscribe and resubscribe.
In future I am only
going to use a more limited selection of addresses to hopefully
reduce the 25 even more. Whilst this process has been an annoyance it
has been necessary to tackle it. I think it has been about 5 years
since I last tackled a big email change. All being well I shouldn’t
have to do anything as significant for at least another 5.
I checked on the connection settings I am using to log into the mailboxes. Technical information from another email provider provides a good overview of the available settings.
RFC8314 (Jan 2018) outlines the current thinking over connection security for email.
Simply put implicit security using SSL/TLS is preferred as it encrypts the connection by default. STARTTLS is discouraged as it begins as a plain text connection which can upgraded to an encrypted connection. It is worth checking your settings with your own provider to ensure you are as secure as you can be.