IT for Donuts: avoid spam with a disposable email address

By: John McGarvey

Date: 3 August 2015

Too much emailIT for Donuts is our regular feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This time, we take a look at how a disposable or temporary email addresses can help you avoid spam and unwanted emails.

What is a disposable email address?

A disposable or temporary email address does exactly what you'd expect. You can use it in situations where you need a valid email address, but where you don't want to use your normal address.

People use disposable addresses in all kinds of situations. For instance:

  • You want to take a quick look at an online service to see if it's for you, but you want to avoid 'getting started' and marketing emails.
  • You have to enter your email to view a document or download a file, but it's unclear what that company will do once it has your address.
  • You want to create a second account with an online service. For instance perhaps you're testing your website's own registration function.

Temporary and disposable email addresses can obviously be used to avoid having to deal with spam, marketing emails and all the rest.

If you run a business that relies on email marketing, you might have mixed feelings about this. In that case, it's up to you to decide whether it's right or not to use a disposable email address.

Where to get a temporary email address

There are lots of places you can get a temporary email address online. Here are two you can rely on:

  • Mailinator is a good option, because you don't have to do anything to get an email address. Just enter [email protected] when you need an email address. You can then check that address by visiting the Mailinator site and entering your mailbox.
  • 10 Minute Mail gives you a temporary email address that remains active for ten minutes. To get started, visit the 10 Minute Mail site. It generates a unique address that you can use for ten minutes. Messages sent to that address should appear almost at once

When using temporary email addresses, remember that they are not secure.

Generally, anyone can view messages sent to them simply by visiting the right web page. So don't ever rely on them for important stuff, nor use them for sending or receiving sensitive or personal data.

A slightly less-convenient but safer option can be to set up a separate email address for tests and trials.

For instance, you could sign up for a free Google Mail account, or create a mailbox with the address [email protected]. Happy emailing!

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