In this installment of the Breaking from Google Series, I focus on Google Mail (GMail).
The alternative was simple for me, being a heavy Apple user – iCloud. Apple gives you several aliases on a single account, so its easy to set up junk mail addresses, professional addresses, and personal addresses. You can also have multiple iCloud accounts and you don’t need any Apple device to create an iCloud account. Apple gives you 5GB of storage, shared across the iCloud offerings. You can buy more if needed. Google gives you 10GB now, excluding Picasa (photos). I never used over 1GB so the 5GB limit is not an issue for me.
Having already had one Apple account, I went to iCloud and setup a single new account. Yes, I use two. Personal and Professional email addresses in one account, and junk email address(es) in the other. It also effectively gives me 10 GB of free storage between them. If I ever encounter any spam issues with the junk email address I use for websites and vendors, I can simply remove the alias and create a new one.
I elected to keep the two Google mail accounts I had. I set them up to forward any incoming mail to the new corresponding iCloud mail accounts. This gives you the added benefit of determining who is still using your old accounts.
On that note, once completed you need to notify everyone of your nifty new address (which will end in @me.com or @icloud.com). Expect some people to not update for long periods of time. You will also need to update your email address at every website and vendor you do business with if you want them to go directly to your new email address (junk or otherwise). This can and will take a considerable amount of time. And you will inevitably miss a few, especially those that are non digital like newspapers, etc. The process took me well over a week to complete by doing a 10 to 15 per day.
This is also a good opportunity to change and strengthen the passwords on each site. It’s a very good practice to change your passwords periodically. And enough cannot be said about making them difficult. Whatever you do, DO NOT use the same password across sites. I know it’s a pain, but there are software tools that help manage your passwords. I think this is a good topic for another post later.
Changing your email with websites and vendors is where the Google forwarding pays off. You can check the GMail accounts periodically to see who is still sending to them. You will need to contact any website or vendor that is still sending to Google and have your email address updated. My goal was to move completely off GMail and receive nothing there.
I left the forwarding in place for about 6 months before taking any further action with the Google accounts. As of a few days ago, I completely shutdown one of the Google accounts. The other account still gets the occasional email, and I still use Google Calendar for one purpose (more on that in another post), so I will keep it.
Next up: Google Contacts