Providing an email address has become standard practice when it comes to signing up for services, making online purchases, and obtaining digital coupons or sweepstakes entries. As we become more dependent on these conveniences, our inboxes are filling up fast.
Of course, email service providers offer a variety of spam filters and protective measures. But when you willingly give out your real email address (REA), you're essentially granting these entities permission to send you a variety of unwanted emails.
In comes disposable email addresses (DEAs). Unlike the popular choice to create a secondary email address for sign-ups or mandatory disclosures for exclusive offers, DEAs make it simple to receive the emails you want (and no more) straight to your primary inbox. There are a variety of options out there that provide this special service.
Spamgourmet is a free, non-commercial disposable email address service that prides itself on the fact that, with the exception of the initial confirmation email and password resets, they never send emails to their customers. It only seems logical that a spam protection service shouldn't send you spam.
With Spamgourmet, you can create unique email addresses for each particular sign up or third-party and set a limit for the number of emails you want to receive before the email address you provided essentially self-destructs. Of course, should you decide you want to receive more emails at a particular address, you can refill your email capacity.
Like Spamgourmet, E4ward allows you to create unique aliases for your real email address, but they also provide another added benefit. When you respond to an email sent to your E4ward disposable email address, a reply-to header is inserted, ensuring that your real email address is never revealed to the sender, a process referred to as "address rewriting."
Additionally, E4ward offers the ability to create disposable email addresses under your own domain. The service is completely free and simple to use.
GishPuppy, another free service, allows you to easily manage all of your email registrations conveniently in one location. Even better, if your primary email address changes, Gish Puppy has the functionality to quickly update your account to redirect your email addresses without updating each registration separately.
With GishPuppy, you'll never forget the unique username you registered on a site with again. Simply click "Gish it!" on a sign-in page to access GishPuppy's automatic lookup service and reveal the email address you used for that particular site.
Spamex boasts that determining the root cause of spam is easier than ever utilizing the short message they include in the header or email body indicating the disposable email address that the spam was sent to. Not only does this service offer the same protection of the previously listed options, but you'll now be able to hone in on those who have shared or sold your email address. Additionally, they offer the same "address rewriting" functionality offered by E4ward.
Spamex, however, is not a free service. While they offer a free one month trial, their annual plans range from about $10-$30 depending on the number of active disposable email addresses and maximum email size you need. Higher-tiered plans also allow for the use of your own personal domain.
Mailinator is a great option for those who don't want to sign up for a service. Their free public plan includes the same traditional features with the exception of outgoing emails. It is a "receive-only" service.
It's important to note that using the free "public" plan truly is public. All emails can be seen by anyone and are not owned by you. These public emails are deleted automatically after a few hours.
Those looking for a boost in features can upgrade to the team or enterprise plan to gain access to privacy, storage, use of a private domain and API access. When it comes to managing a high volume of inboxes all in one place, Mailinator's team subscription is the way to go.
At Jetable.org, you create disposable email addresses with a designated lifespan -- handy for when you need to give out a one-time email address. During its limited lifespan, your disposable email address forwards mail to your actual email address. It deactivates automatically after the lifespan you selected comes to an end.
Jetable.org is unique in the sense that it provides a lifespan for your disposable email addresses (designated by you). This allows you to give out a one-time email address with ease. When the lifespan is reached, the email address automatically deactivates.
Jetable.org is not an anonymous service, does not offer the "address rewriting" feature and they do keep logs of the service for legal reasons. It is, however, free and easy to use.
Which one is best?
The service that is best for you will depend entirely on your own unique needs. If you're looking for a free service with the greatest number of features, E4ward is a no-brainer. Or if you're looking for a great way to manage a long list of registrations, GishPuppy is a clear choice.
When it comes to team plans, Mailinator is at the top of the list. With a wide selection of spam protection services to choose from, there's sure to be a solution that best suits your particular requirements.
Email spam is surging - here's how to protect yourself
If you've ever dreaded giving out your email address, here's a way to create a fake, temporary and disposable email address to ensure your personal security and save your sanity.