Vodafone customers should plan ahead for email closure
If you are one the 250,000 or so people who have been relying on a Vodafone, Clear or Paradise email address, change is coming.
Vodafone will turn off the services on November 30.
Is this going to be awful?
Chances are that if you are still using an email address from your internet provider you have probably been using the internet for at least 10 years, and probably don't like change for the sake of change.
You are likely to have had problems with your email service over that time, such as outages and deluges of spam.
But you gritted your teeth, and maybe stuck your fingers in your ear when friends and family told you it was time to move to Gmail.
You may find some unexpected difficulty making the switch – you've been around computers long enough to fear the worst.
But you may end up wishing up you had made the switch sooner.
What will happen to my emails after November 30?
You will still be able to get emails that are sent to you old Vodafone address but to do that, you will need to set up a new email account with a different provider – assuming you don't already have one.
Vodafone has promised to automatically forward emails that are sent to your closed account to your new email address as long as you remain a customer of theirs, with a simple form to fill in to make this happen.
In theory you won't need to tell any of your utilities or relatives you have a new email address, as emails sent to your old address should still arrive in your new inbox.
But remember Vodafone is closing down its email service because it was getting increasingly poor, so it may not be a good idea to rely on this forwarding service and delay advising people of your new address forever.
Most friends and family will hopefully get the message quickly when you start sending them email from your new address.
Will Vodafone also forward emails that it would normally mark as spam?
Yes. Vodafone has suggested customers switch to Google Gmail or Microsoft Outlook and says they should filter out the spam while letting legitimate messages through.
It says Google and Microsoft detect the originator of the emails "and we've been reassured around our legitimate emails not getting blocked".
Which email provider should I switch to?
There are different options. But realistically, most people will choose Gmail and there may be advantages to going with the flow.
It may be a bit creepy that online advertisers seem to know whenever you have been browsing for a new pair of shoes on the internet, but when it comes to email, Gmail is well-designed and rock solid.
Gmail offers two-factor authentication as an option which means you can make you email account much more secure than the Vodafone service you have been using to date.
If there are aspects of it you don't like, such as the default option of grouping emails into "conversations", these can usually be changed in settings.
How do I set up a new account?
It is free and you don't have to away give too much personal information (they'll piece stuff together about you soon enough).
When should I do all this?
Well before November 30.
It may be a good idea to set up a new email account in the next few weeks.
Although Vodafone will forward email to your new address for free, it says it will only set-up a forwarding address once, and that address can't then be changed.
That means it is important to forward email to the address that you plan to use long term after November 30.
So if you are new to Gmail or Outlook, you may want to set up a new email account and play around with it for a few weeks before deciding to commit by setting up mail forwarding.
What about emails, attachments and email-contact information in the old account?
This is where it gets a bit more complicated.
You will still be able to access anything that has been downloaded onto your computer through an email client, but you will lose access to anything stored in webmail on November 30.
It is possible to download emails from some Vodafone webmail services directly on to your computer, but not from Clear or Paradise accounts. It is usually possible to import emails and contacts into other accounts, including Gmail accounts.
But if you are not talking about a lot of emails or contacts, the easiest thing may be to forward the relevant emails to your new account before the old one closes.
Scammers often use events such as this to try to trick people into disclosing personal information.
It is extremely likely scammers will learn of Vodafone's email closure and send phishing emails that appear to be part of a communication associated with the switch.
So be on guard and never disclose your account password.