The solution? Use an email address you have control over. Ideally, this would involve registering your own domain name and getting yourself some hosting. From what I can tell, Godaddy offers one email address just with a parked domain, so you wouldn’t even have to organise hosting. When you buy a domain and some hosting, you are not tied to one hosting provider as you can move providers and keep your domain name (and data.) You can also change domain registrars if you find a better offer. Unfortunately, “mum” isn’t realistically going to know how to do this, (infact, most people aren’t,) and it also costs a small amount of money.
Personally I registered my domain through Namecheap and buy my hosting from aSmallOrange (yes that is a referral link, if you end up buying hosting from aSmallOrange due to my recommendation, I get some free hosting). They offer the cheapest deal around with SSL access included that I could find – also you get unlimited email addresses, so firstname.lastname@example.org They’ve been an exceptional host to me and I would highly recommend them. Anyway…
A less beautiful solution would be using some kind of free email service, since at least in this case you don’t have to pay to continue using it if you decide to use another provider. Gmail even offers the ability to forward your emails onto another email address if you ever decide to leave Gmail, and it will keep doing this until your account expires (I think you can keep it active by logging in ever 6 months.)
So you can continue to use whichever ISP you choose, and change to another as many times as you want, and you can still access Gmail happily for free. You can access it in the way you are accustomed to (probably through a dedicated application using POP such as Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express) however if you’re open to new ideas…
A great benefit of Gmail is its web interface – you can also access it through your web browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, etc.) – this is called webmail. The Gmail web interface is ajax based and contains lots of helpful bits and pieces from the Google developers which make it a pleasure to use (such as importing your contacts from your existing address book and the ability to export them again if you decide to leave Gmail.) The web interface also means you can access your mail wherever you go.
Gmail beats the pants off any other webmail I’ve ever used, especially the kick-ass search. You never delete mail in Gmail, just archive it, and searching for your mail is a cinch.
So what’s the catch of using Gmail? Well if you decide to access it with your web browser then advertising is put alongside your email (not in it, as is done by some other webmail providers)… and of course, you’re still tied to Google, which only solves half of our initial problem. However, for the regular Joe User, it’s a much better solution than buying your own domain.