Over the last few years, I’ve made an effort to stop using Google products and start using products made by folks that (I think) are better stewards of my data, attention, and privacy.
At this point, there are a couple solid alternatives to every Google product. DuckDuckGo is my primary search engine, Apple Maps has improved significantly, Simple Analytics is good enough and respects visitors tracking preferences, etc.
One product I hadn’t looked at migrating from was Gmail. I’ve used it for more than a decade and resigned to the trade-offs long ago. A recent thought I had made me reconsider: Gmail controls your email address, not just the email client.
In hindsight this is obvious, yet still unsettling. My account could be suspended for some reason and I would lose access to my email and anything else that is connected, like bank two-factor authentication codes. A quick search for “gmail account suspended” yields a collection of horror stories.
This problem isn’t unique to Gmail either. Any email service that doesn’t let you use a custom domain has this problem.1 So I decided to set one up. Since I didn’t want to blow up my current process, I decided to use G Suite (sigh) for my custom email.
This is a war, not a battle. It will take time. First, I create the custom email. Then, I start propagating it across all the services I use. Finally, I switch to a new provider. The fight to own your email address is worth it.
With my own custom email address, I will be able to send and receive email from firstname.lastname@example.org with near 100% uptime. The email service I’m using might get disrupted, shut down, or suspend me, but now I can take my address with me anywhere.2
And there might be somewhere better to take it soon.