ISP email addresses could stop you switchingMore than half of people use ISP's email address

30 January 2011

ISP email addresses can stop us switching

More than half of people use their ISP's email address

Web users risk losing their personal email address if their internet service provider (ISP) closes or if they switch provider. 

A Which? Conversation poll of web users found that more than half use the email account supplied by their ISP as their main email address.

ISP closures are rare but do occur, and if this happens the closed ISP may stop providing access to its email - as UK Online customers discovered when UK Online was recently shut down by parent company Sky.

But the 55% of web users who use the email supplied by their ISP as their main account also risk losing access if they switch providers.

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BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media's email policies

Which? spoke to the UK's four biggest ISPs to see what would happen if a customer who used the email supplied by the ISP switched provider. 

  • Sky and TalkTalk said accounts would be kept open and customers could continue to access their email. 
  • BT only lets you retain your address if you sign up to its PAYG dial-up service or by paying £1.54 a month for 'Premium mail'. 
  • Virgin Media offers continued access for 90 days only.

Which? findings show you can't guarantee continued email access if your contract with your ISP ends – the risk may be higher with smaller ISPs. 

Use webmail or your own domain name

You can avoid any email problems if your ISP closes or when you want to find a better deal by using a free webmail service - such as Gmail or Hotmail. Many commenters on Which? Conversation also recommended registering for a personal domain name and using this for your email address - for example where 'yourname' would be your first and surname. This typically costs £5 a year or less - find out more about registering your own domain name at Nominet, the internet registry for .uk domain names. 

Of those who responded to the Which? Conversation poll:

  • 30% use a webmail account
  • 14% have bought their own domain name 

You can keep webmail addresses or addresses linked to your own domain name however often you switch ISP and avoid the heartache of losing your all-important email address. So if you're fed up with your current broadband provider and want to find a deal that saves you money, get set up with a new email address sooner rather than later, then you can take your pick of the great broadband deals on offer in the Which? broadband review.

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