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In this article, we look at what disposable email addresses are, their benefits and disadvantages, and we look at a few examples of disposable email address services.
What Are Disposable Email Addresses?
Disposable / temporary email addresses (DEA), also known as ‘burner’ email addresses, are (mostly free) services that allow the user to set up and generate email addresses and email aliases and, in some cases, associated domain names. The reason that they are temporary is that, depending on the email service, the email addresses, and the mails received in the inbox (and domains) are deleted within specified brief time period. DEAs allow users to keep their real email address secret.
Technically, there several types of email that could be described a ‘disposable,’ which are:
– Aliases. These alternate forms of a user’s email address can be created within many popular accounts e.g., Gmail.
– Forwarding accounts. These use a separate domain and, as the name suggests, forward emails to a user’s account.
– A non-forwarding, one-time use, temporary email address that becomes unavailable after a period of time. This is the type of DEA that this article will be focusing on because it is truly disposable.
Why? A Way To Reduce Spam
The popularity of DEAs has been driven by the need to reduce the amount of spam that now clogs-up many email boxes. Too much spam wastes time, can be frustrating, and makes it difficult to find important emails. Using disposable email addresses to sign-up and receive something that a person wants (e.g., a download access to information), means that they don’t have to receive countless more follow-up emails and offers from that company.
Other important benefits that the use of DEAs bring to the user include:
– Control. Spam emails, and emails from legitimate sign-ups where their marketing emails are frequent and where a user may not have time to go through and unsubscribe can mean inboxes soon fill up. DEAs provide a way to take more control.
– Maintaining Privacy and Security. It is possible that some sites that users sign-up to/register with may be hacked and the email addresses (and other personal data) stolen. Using a DEA means that even if there is a hack, the user’s real email address is not used for other attacks e.g., phishing, or sold to other hackers. Also, using a DEA offers greater privacy.
– Identification and traceability. Setting up one disposable email address per service that a user signs-up to can help to identify the source of any spam by identifying the service that sells email addresses or leaks them. The associated DEA can then be deleted to stop the flow of spam.
– Ease of management and convenience. DEAs are easy and fast to set up, can be completely outsourced, are operated from easy-to-use dashboards, don’t require extra software or hardware, and don’t interfere with a user’s existing email infrastructure.
– The ability to ‘cherry pick.’ Using DEAs, users can sign up for the good parts of offers e.g., rewards or special offers, and avoid the bad parts i.e., the marketing follow-ups that are not relevant.
– The ability to test the nature of a service. Signing up to a new, untried service with a DEA can allow the user to assess the nature of that service e.g., whether they immediately send out lots of junk emails.
– Anonymity. There may be some occasions where users want to make a point, comment, or send a message of importance but, for whatever reason, remain anonymous.
– Flexibility, scope, and scalability. DEA services can offer generous or no limits on the number of disposable email addresses per account and the size of incoming and outgoing messages, and the user can set up and delete email addresses for multiple services as and when required.
There are, of course, some drawbacks of DEAs. These include:
– They are great for end-users but can be damaging and create work and costs for marketers. Those businesses receiving sign-ups using DEAs have problems such as difficulties converting trial customers, skewed churn-rate figures and analytics, and possible backlisting from the bounced emails sent back to DEAs that don’t exist anymore. DEAs also enable a marketer’s offers (and trust) to be abused and can mean extra wasted costs in trying to identify and verify addresses and clean lists.
– There may be a security risk for DEA users e.g., emails passing through free services may be readable to others, and/or users may have access to a pool of addresses that others can see the inbox for.
– Emails from a DEA service may be blacklisted so that users can’t sign up to services with email addresses using their domain.
Examples of Disposable Email Address Services
Examples of DEA services include:
GuerrillaMail – An open source, basic looking service that allows the creation of email addresses with nine domain names. There’s no registration, and email addresses last an hour. https://www.guerrillamail.com/ .
Mailinator – This offers a offers a 100 per cent free, public disposable email system where users can choose any address @mailinator.com (scroll down the home page to find the link). https://www.mailinator.com/.
Air Mail – Auto generated email address which gets changed every 10 seconds. Mailboxes are not deleted and can be used for as long as the domain is active so users can read their inbox via a browser at a later time using a unique URL. http://getairmail.com/.
10 Minute Mail – Just like the name suggests. Users can set up a temporary e-mail address and any e-mails sent to that address show up automatically on the web page. They can be read, clicked-on, and replied to, but the-mail address expires after 10 minutes. http://10minutemail.com/ .
YOPmail – This free service allows users to use ‘any-name-of-your-choice’@YOPmail.com, sign up anywhere, and there’s a disposable inbox where messages are kept for 8 days. Users can also manually remove them. http://www.yopmail.com/.
EmailOnDeck – Free service where temporary email addresses normally expire after more than an hour, but within a day. https://www.emailondeck.com/
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
For DEA users, these email addresses can represent a practical, low cost (often free), way to tackle spam and a clogged inbox as well as offering security and privacy benefits. For businesses operating their own marketing, however, sign-ups and offer take-ups with disposable email can create real challenges, skew analytics and figures, create more work, and even lead to problems like being blacklisted. DEAs, therefore, are more beneficial to end users than businesses/marketers. That said, it is possible to see why they have now become popular, and are one of many valued spam tackling tools and services.