Dear Dominic, I’m currently with BT broadband and was given a BT email address when I signed up. However, I am now planning to switch internet provider. Would switching mean I lose my original BT email address? Or can I keep it? Any advice would be appreciated...
Ian Salkeld, Cardiff, 25 January 2012
Our expert Dominic says...
I'm afraid to say there's no definitive answer to your question. It all depends on the broadband provider you're switching to, and how your existing email account was set up.
For example, an email address such as email@example.com - given to you by your broadband provider - differs from ones like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com as they allow you to access your emails for as long as you choose to keep the account open.
As there is no industry standard in dealing with this problem, we'll look at some of the main UK providers, detailing whether or not it's possible to continue using their email account when you decide to switch to a different broadband service.
If your broadband is supplied by BT , like yours, Ian, even though you can access your BT emails in Microsoft Outlook and BT Yahoo Mail, the terms and conditions state: "If you cancel your BT broadband subscription ... your BT email account will close too."
However, some users have claimed that is still possible to access their accounts through Yahoo Mail.
If you want to switch providers, but also want to keep your BT ISP email account open for work or personal reasons, then to guarantee that you still have access to your email you should sign up to BT's Yahoo Premium Email Service. The service, priced at £1.54 a month, will allow you to access your BT account, even when signed up to another ISP.
You must wait at least seven days until you have left BT to subscribe to this service, but it is worth doing if you don't want to lose all your messages and contacts.
If you're going to be switching to a new broadband provider, but want to keep your AOL email account, then all you have to do is ask a member of AOL's customer support team. Once you've switched, you can carry on using your old email account through the website www.mail.aim.com .
Be Broadband, like BT, also allows you to access your Be Broadband email account through a number of email programs, such as Microsoft Outlook.
However, it is stipulated quite clearly in the company's terms and conditions that when you cancel your contract with Be Broadband, your email account will be deleted, as well as all your emails and contacts.
If you are in this situation, the best thing to do is to ask your provider - they may have a policy similar to AOL's, which would make things very simple for you. Or you may be able to subscribe to a pay monthly service like that of BT, which enables you to retain your old email address.
I think it's quite a good idea to have an external email account, separate from your broadband service, such as a Hotmail or Gmail account.
That way, you can ensure that if something does go wrong with one, or the other, you will be fully backed up and won't lose your contacts.
Before you switch provider, you may be able to transfer your address book. Gmail, for example, lets users do this, however not many email hosts do. Moving to another provider often means starting over with an empty address book and building it up again from scratch, I'm afraid.
I hope this helps you, Ian!