A Tale of Too Many Forwarders
I'm typically a zero-inbox kind of guy, meaning I check and clear out my inbox pretty much daily. I go to fairly extreme lengths to protect my email account from spammers. Ever since the Gawker Media data breach in ~2010, which resulted in me going from getting maybe 15 spam messages per year
to getting 3-5 per day
, I've been especially careful about manually creating new/custom email forwarders (aka aliases) for each site/service I use. This way, when one site inevitably gets hacked and my email address ends up in the hands of spammers, 1) I know which site/account is responsible for misplacing my data (often before they announce/disclose it publicly!) and 2) I can simply delete the forwarder to prevent spam and update my account with a newly created one if I still want the legitimate emails from the site/service in question.
Over the years I have accumulated nearly 900 unique forwarders in my cPanel. And while it has greatly helped keep spam to a minimum, it hasn't been without its problems and pitfalls:
- At one point I changed hosting providers from a service which didn't use cPanel to one which did and had to manually re-create all my forwarders because there wasn't a way to import them. I think I only had a couple hundred forwarders back then, but it was still a pain.
- There were a few times when I wanted to have some extra anonymity/privacy and a custom forwarder didn't quite cut it. After all, Deozaan is a pretty unique name. So I didn't necessarily want to give out an address or send an email containing @deozaan.com.
- Sometimes I'd be out in public and someone or some business would need/want my email address. If I had anticipated this then I could have one created beforehand, but sometimes I'd be stuck having to choose between giving them an existing one (and lose the unique spam protection) or give them an address that didn't exist yet and ask them not to send me anything until I'd had a chance to login to my cPanel account and create it.
- Some people know me by my real name, and other people know me only by my online handle. But all my forwarders go to my same inbox which means either I have to settle on one name to display when I send emails or I have to edit my account settings to change what it displays in the "From" field every time I send an email, or risk forgetting and confusing the recipient.
- Speaking of sending emails, the biggest drawback of all was that if I ever wanted to send an email, it would have to come from my real, personal email account, revealing it to whomever I was communicating with, thus negating any spam protection I had hoped to achieve.
Anyway, long story made shorter: Manually creating and managing email forwarders in cPanel took quite a bit of work/time and didn't always offer me the full spam protection and/or anonymity that I wanted, on-demand. But it was the best I had, so I kept at it.Enter SimpleLogin
Then in July I discovered SimpleLogin
, by the makers of Proton
(Mail, VPN, Calendar, etc.). It's the email alias creation service of my dreams! In a single click you can create a totally random alias, from a variety of domains provided by SimpleLogin, such as @slmail.me. This is great for when you want some anonymity or a "throwaway" address. Or you can add your own custom domains, so that aliases are created for @yourdomain.com. This is great for when you want some professional/personal looking addresses, such as [email protected]
or [email protected]
. You can set up catch-all (wildcard) domains so that any incoming email to your domain automatically creates an alias which forwards to your real email. Or you can set up specific rules so that, e.g., any incoming email to an address with a certain prefix (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a certain suffix (*[email protected]
) will automatically create a new alias. Similarly, you can create subdomains from a variety of provided domain names, so that you could have aliases for anything @yoursubdomain.simplelogin.com, for example.
But wait, there's more!
If you start getting spam to an alias, you can simply click a toggle to disable that alias and all future attempts to send email to that alias will be blocked. Or if there's just one particular unwanted person/address you keep getting mail from, you can click a toggle for that one address to block it from even being delivered to your mailbox.
And what about if you need to actually correspond with someone? SimpleLogin creates reverse-aliases that you can send email to so that your real address is always protected! That's right. If, for example, the real reply-to address is [email protected]
, when you click reply it will actually go to [email protected]
which is an alias that forwards to [email protected]
, replacing the reply-to that the recipient sees with your alias rather than your real address. This happens automatically when you reply to an email that was sent to one of your aliases. But sometimes you need to be the person to initiate the conversation, so you can manually create a reverse-alias for the address you want to send an email to, and then email that reverse-alias from your real address, and it will appear as coming from your alias.
You can customize the displayed "From" name however you like for each alias. And of course you can configure an alias to forward to more than one address. I use this for incoming support emails for a business I co-created. The support alias forwards incoming mail to both of us, so whoever gets to it first can respond. And when we respond it appears as though it's from "Support" and from the support address rather than from our personal email accounts with our personal email account names.
There's a lot more, but I won't go into many more details. Though I do feel I should mention that it has a browser extension to help you automatically create an alias in web forms if you want. It can be configured to create aliases based on the domain name you're on, optionally adding a random (real word or "gibberish" characters) prefix or suffix (e.g. [email protected]
I've been using Proton Mail and other Proton services as early as 2015, and have from time to time wanted to support them financially because I really like what they're doing. But I've always felt the lowest subscription was a little pricey considering that I have never needed any of the features a paid subscription offers. With SimpleLogin, they have finally created something I consider essential and super convenient. And it's cheaper than their usual subscription offerings as well. So I finally sent some money their way. But you can also self-host and use it for free because it's open-source
I love SimpleLogin! It has solved every problem I had with using forwarders while make it easier to use and manage them, too. I recommend it.https://simplelogin.io/