DIY Personalized Email Forwarding
WHAT IS PERSONALIZED EMAIL FORWARDING?
With your own domain name and a "forwarding service", emails are sent to the forwarding service, which will then send them seamlessly on to your actual email account (which can be hosted anywhere!) If you have more than one email account, or several family members share a single account, you can set things up so that different addresses at your domain will be forwarded to different accounts. It's like having your own personal post office.
For example, if you own the domain name "smithfamily.com" then you could set things up so that any mail sent to email@example.com gets sent on (forwarded) automatically to your actual email address at your email provider or ISP. You could give other members of your family their own personal email addresses too, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com - each of which can be forwarded on to the email address of their choice.
You can also set a &catchall& email address, that is, an email address that will receive all email not addressed to an email address you've explicitly specified. In our earlier example, the catchall email address would receive all mail sent to SOMEBODY@smithfamily.com (where SOMEBODY is anything except &john&, &sarah& or &bob&)
HOW CAN I SET MYSELF UP FOR PERSONALIZED EMAIL FORWARDING?
There are two steps involved in setting up your personal email forwarding service. First, you'll need to register a domain name (if you don't already have one). Second, you'll need to set up email forwarding for that domain using one of several free DNS providers.
1. Register Your Domain Name
Since this is going to be YOUR email service, you can choose any domain name you can think of (as long as it's still available). Good places to register domain names cheaply include NameCheap.com ($8.88/year) and GoDaddy.com ($8.95/year)
If you're not familiar with the whole concept of "domain names", they're the labels such as "microsoft.com" or "hotmail.com" that you see in site URLs and email addresses. A great introduction to domain names can be found at iGoldrush.com.
2. Set Up Email Forwarding for Your Domain Name
Let's assume that you've now bought your domain name (e.g. example, bobjones.com). The final step you need to take to activate email forwarding is to sign up for one of these FREE DNS service providers: ZoneEdit.com or MyDomain.com. Note that both providers have vocal supporters, so you should be fine no matter which you choose.
The following explanation assumes that you chose to use the MyDomain DNS service (ZoneEdit works in a similar way, though the site interface is different.)
You need to set up your domain name so that it will use MyDomain's servers for DNS [DNS is the "translation" mechanism that changes domain names - which are text - into numbers that web servers can understand]
First, log into the control panel of your domain name registrar (NameCheap or GoDaddy if you followed the suggestion earlier in this article). In the control panel, you should find a setting for "Domain NameServers" or "DNS" - this is where you will enter the MyDomain or ZoneEdit DNS information)
In the case of MyDomain, the settings you would use are:-
- Primary: ns1.mydomain.com
- Secondary: ns2.mydomain.com
- Secondary: ns3.mydomain.com
- Secondary: ns4.mydomain.com
Once you have made these configuration changes for your domain name, you should go to the MyDomain site and create a new user account (if you've never used the service before)
After creating a new user account, log in and choose the "Add a domain to My Domain List" option. Choose the "MyDomain: Free Domain and Email Redirection Service" option from the pulldown menu and press the "Add" button. If you don't currently have a website you want to use with the domain name, press "Continue" on the next screen then press "Confirm Changes"
At this point, you should be looking at the Summary screen for the domain name you just added. Go down to"Email Settings" and choose "Edit".
In the Email Settings section, you can specify a catch-all email address, as well as up to 5 other email addresses - which means you could have up to 5 people sharing the same domain name for email forwarding (6 if you count the catch-all).
NOTE: Remember, this is an email forwarding service. In other words, a service that automatically passes on all email to a different email account. You will need to have an email account at an email provider somewhere (either your ISP or a paid or free email service provider will do) before you can make use of email forwarding.
With your own email forwarding service, you'll be able to set up multiple email addresses for different purposes, and even create a "catch-all address" where anything sent to any address at your domain is sent to a single mailbox.
This is handy for setting up spam filtering since you can register at different websites using different email addresses, and then use server filters (or create a separate forwarding rule) to later block any address that you decide you no longer want to receive email at. Providers that offer such server filters include Fastmail.fm.
Note that Fastmail.fm has a unique feature whereby you can specify in Mydomain or ZoneEdit that your forwarding address should be "firstname.lastname@example.org" and Fastmail.fm will automatically file all messages sent to this address in the folder "foldername"
OTHER GOOD FORWARDING ALTERNATIVES
If you sign up for an Enhanced-level account from Fastmail.fm, you can avoid the extra step of having to set up DNS services with a free DNS provider, since Fastmail takes care of the DNS settings. Of course, you'll also gain access to all the other benefits of an Enhanced account, such as 150MB of storage space and powerful spam filtering tools! For more information, see the Fastmail FAQ.
Finally, if you're willing to pay for email forwarding, POBox has been providing reliable email forwarding services for many years and have built an excellent reputation in the email industry.