A lot of people, myself included, have this habit of creating multiple email accounts, and then abandoning one or more of them. This leads to removal of those inactive accounts by the email provider after a stipulated time (usually six to twelve months).
One wouldn’t normally expect this to be a cause for concern. Except that, it is. This behaviour is being exploited by hackers these days (read this & this) to gain access to their primary email address, contact details, complete chat logs, transaction information, and God knows what else. And so here’s the deal – never ignore your secondary email account/s.
But how? By nature we tend to avoid anything that doesn’t seem important enough. Your secondary account is not quite important (that’s why it’s secondary), so it’s natural you will either forget or not want to check it out every so often.
However, you can make the awesome Digsby to keep checking your mail inboxes at regular intervals, and hence prevent them from being deactivated. For those who haven’t heard of it, Digsby is a free Windows utility that can manage all your IM (Gtalk, AIM, Live Messenger, Y! Messenger, and more), email, and social accounts together. If you’ve not tried it out yet, go give it a ride (make sure you get the crap-free version).
Once you install Digsby and create an account, it’s time to add your email addresses to it. From the menu bar, go to Digsby > My Accounts, and click on Add Email Account. Select your email provider, and enter your account details. If your secondary account doesn’t receive a lot of mails, you can increase the time interval after which Digsby will check for new mail. Click Save, and then Done. Keep running Digsby every now and then (don’t forget to do that!), and it’ll make sure your secondary account stays active.
Why can’t I just delete my secondary email address?
It’s even more dangerous. If you read the email exploit article that I linked to above, you’ll know that the exploit is possible only when your secondary account is deleted and then taken up by some other person. While signing up for your primary email account, you must have provided your secondary email account. Hence any problem in your primary account will usually be mailed to the secondary account.
Sure, Digsby is not the only social client out there. Trillian and Pidgin also offer IM and email capabilities. However I prefer Digsby because of the way it separates your email account from your IM account. Both Trillian and Pidgin integrate the two – if you add an account, it will serve both as IM and email without choice (you can opt out of email, but not the former). It’s highly unlikely that you chat with people using your secondary account, so Trillian and Pidgin are both redundant in this respect. Moreover, Digsby allows you to do all sorts of stuff with your email right from its interface.
Email addresses contain some of the most sensitive information about yourself and your contacts, and hence you must take all steps to make sure that they don’t get deactivated or hacked.