I really don’t need to talk about the current situation with spam on the Internet. I have 10+ mailboxes, all of them receiving at least 50 spam e-mails per day, but I still try very hard not to share my personal address with anyone. Sure, from time to time your buddy will send you a funny picture with your address with 100 others in the CC field, but my main problem was preventing my address to share via services I subscribe to.
Subscribing to mailing lists, newsletters and registering for webcasts would eventually turn my e-mail address in something of a “public domain”. Although I try to check out privacy policies and unsubscribe mechanisms, in 90% of the cases e-mail address that was private before the subscription would start getting unsolicited e-mails within a week or two.
The Internet is a great place, there are thousands of people with the same problem, so there are a lot of good solutions and all of them are based on the disposable e-mail addressing concept.
Disposable e-mail addressing refers to an alternative way of sharing and managing e-mail addressing. It aims to set up a new, unique e-mail address for every contact or entity, making a point-to-point connection between the sender and the recipient.
Here are some of the services I am using. They are all based on disposable e-mail addressing, but each of them has its own unique twist on it.
Jetable – www.jetable.org
Jetable is french word for disposable. The service, provided by APINC (Association for a Non-Commercial Internet) was started in mid 2003. It is clearly stated that this is not an anonymous email service and therefor email headers are not modified and logs of the service are kept. Just to note that the same situation is basically with all similar services.
I liked the service because it was extremely easy to setup. Punch in your real address, select the “expiry” time and hit submit.
The address you will get will look like firstname.lastname@example.org. In the past couple of months I came across a couple of situations where the e-mail was actually not forwarded to my real account. This just happened when I used GMail as the “real” mailbox.
There is also a Firefox extension for Jetable (available from the service homepage), but it was developed almost 2 years ago. Recently there was a post for a workaround if you would like to run the same extension on Firefox 2.0+.
2Prong – www.2prong.com/
2Prong is a very interesting Web 2.0 concept of a no-click disposable email system. By simply visiting the 2Prong web site the newly generated address automatically gets saved to your clipboard. Paste it in any form on a website that requires email verification and when the email is received it will pop up instantly in the box on the 2Prong site. 2Prong changes the domain weekly in order to prevent the address from being banned, a problem which plagues other disposable email services.
This service works flawlessly, the only thing to note is that between the headers of the received e-mail and the content of the message is a leaderboard containing Google Adsense ads. As this is a totally free service, this fact should not bother anyone. 2Prong is a great tool to use when you are on a public system and don’t want to login to your real mailbox to receive e-mails.
Trashmail – www.trashmail.net/
Trashmail has a similar concept as Jetable, but offers some extended setup options. The service offers options such as while creating a disposable e-mail you can set the number of forwards this e-mail can take, life span that is considerably larger (form 1 day to 6 months) as well as challenge response spam filtering.
After creating a disposable e-mail address, the service gives you a unique (https) link where you can even change the address settings. There is also a Firefox extension for this service (available at Mozilla).
Spam.la – www.spam.la
This online service should be used just for non important throw-away site registrations as all the e-mails sent to the address you chose will be publicly readable on spam.la homepage. Quite a lot of people are using the service, so you can easily filter the listing with your own disposable address to see the actual mail you received.
This were just some of the unique disposable e-mail services, but I tried to cover just those which don’t need user registration. If you are interested in other alternatives – Google is your friend.