I think we can all agree that spam is evil. It’s awful. Deplorable. We all hate it, unless you are a spammer. And if you’re a spammer, you deserve swift, repetitive, merciless kicks in the junk.
Though we may never win the war against spam, we can still fight to reduce it. One effective way is to use a disposable e-mail address. Here’s how it works.
Let’s say you need to provide a functional e-mail address for a temporary purpose – a web form, online shopping at a random store, posting in forums – but don’t want your e-mail address harvested and spammed to death. All you have to do is use a disposable e-mail address from one of the many services listed below, use it temporarily, and then forget about it! The possibilities, and the number of disposable addresses are endless.
Here are 10 services that you can use, all for FREE.
As the name suggests, 10 Minute Mail gives you a disposable address that’s valid for ten minutes. With a single click, you can automatically generate a temporary e-mail address that allows you to read incoming e-mails, click on links, and even reply!
If you need a few more minutes, you can easily reset the timer back to 10 minutes.
For sheer simplicity and functionality, 10 Minute Mail is one of my favorites.
If you’re a fan of BugMeNot, you’ll be pleased to know that they also offer a disposable e-mail service. The idea is simple: create your own disposable address (does not expire), give it to the potential spammers, and check it anytime by entering it at BugMeNot’s site.
Here’s an example: let’s say you register with a site that needs to send you a verification link. Simply give them any address that ends with bugmenot.com (email@example.com). To check it, go to BugMeNot and enter that same address.
Of course, if anyone else enters that same address, they can read your e-mail (see for yourself – look at firstname.lastname@example.org), so I recommend creating a unique address with lots of numbers and random characters.
The account is currently limited to reading/clicking links only. Replies and attachments are not supported. Mail is deleted every 24 hours.
dodgit is similar to BugMeNot in functionality. Pick your own e-mail address (@dodgit.com), give it out freely, and enter that same address at dodgit.com to check it.
Once again, choose a unique address unless you want other people ogling at your junk mail. Mail is deleted every 7 days.
dodgit does not support replying, but does include RSS support for incoming e-mails. Nice.
The curiously named “Make Me The King” works the same way as BugMeNot and dodgit – make up your own @makemetheking e-mail address, and check it by entering that same address back on their site.
Unlike the aforementioned sites, Make Me The King supports deleting files manually. RSS support is also included, and while Make Me The King supposedly supports replying, it’s disabled as of this writing.
As always, choose a unique e-mail address.
YopMail is another service with which you can create your own @yopmail address on the fly and check it by logging in to YopMail. One advantage of YopMail is that they offer many different alternate domains in case someone blocks the main domain.
The YopMail client looks like traditional e-mail software, including the abilities to forward and print e-mail, but sending new e-mail is limited to other YopMail addresses. Replies are not supported.
6. Mint Email
Mint Email brings elegance to the idea of disposable e-mail addresses. When you visit the site, it automatically generates an e-mail address for you AND copies it to the clipboard. All you have to do is paste it into whatever spam-hole you like. Mint Email will automatically check for new e-mail.
Temporary addresses are valid for four hours. If you like, you can set Mint Email to automatically use your own desired e-mail address every time you visit. Just take a look at the Preferences (relies on cookies).
Replies are not supported.
7. lite drop
With lite drop, you can choose to set your own disposable address or generate one automatically. Addresses are valid for one hour, though you can easily reset the timer if you need more time.
lite drop checks for incoming e-mail automatically, and includes RSS support. Replying and attachments are not supported.
For sheer simplicity and starkness, it doesn’t get much easier than Spam.la. ANY e-mail that is sent to ANY @spam.la address is publicly readable on the main page. That’s right, it’s all dumped right into public view.
That said, you can still choose to filter content based on the address that you created. Just be aware that someone else is probably reading it, too.
Mailinator is another service that lets you create your own on-the-fly @mailinator disposable address and check it by entering the same name on their site. However, Mailinator allows you to solve a unique problem: by giving someone a disposable address from sites like Mailinator, YopMail, BugMeNot, etc, you are also telling them HOW to check your e-mail, since anyone can go to the corresponding service and enter that address.
Mailinator solves that problem by giving you an alternate e-mail address for every mailbox that you create. Mail sent to the alternate address will be routed to the original. Neat! Read more about alternate inbox names.
SneakEmail is one of the oldest providers of disposable e-mail addresses. Of all the services listed here, SneakEmail is the only one that requires registration. However, the service functions differently from the others. Here’s how it works:
Create an account that links to your regular e-mail address. Once you’re logged in, you can create new SneakEmail addresses to hand out to potential spammers. Mail sent to these disposable address will be routed to your regular e-mail.
The nice thing about SneakEmail is that no one ever sees your true e-mail address. If you reply, it is routed back through the disposable address. Nice! You can also filter, disable, or delete the disposable addresses that you create.
One benefit of SneakEmail is that by creating multiple addresses, you know from what site a spammer got your address.
Of course, there are more available services than the 10 listed here. Do you have another service that you recommend? Tell me in the comments.
Oh, and just for the record, my favorite services listed here are 10 Minute Mail, Mailinator, and SneakEmail. How about you?