Benefits and Downsides of using disposable email services

I have been using such services for decades. They are one of the most unfairly overlooked security and privacy tools, despite the huge protection and practicality they afford. I consider them one of the cornerstones of my security and privacy setup.

I strongly encourage users to open an account at one of those services, and, just the way they have unique passwords for each site (you do use unique passwords, don’t you ?), to have a unique email address for each site or service on the Web.

However, there’s one big distinction to be made. There are two classes of such services, and only one is worth using.

The first and older one provides what is usually called burner addresses or disposable addresses. Yopmail, which is quoted here, typically belongs to this class.

That type of service is completely obsolete now, and indeed it is anything but secure and private. Typically, they don’t require you to open a user account, the inboxes can be accessed by anyone who knows the address because there’s no password, emails are automatically deleted after a few hours or days, and you can’t reply to an email or initiate a send from an address.

While this offered a degree of privacy and spam protection relative to the site where you used that address to open an account, and it could be valuable when there was no alternative, the security, privacy and capability was abysmal relative to the burner email service itself. Guerilla Mail and others still operate, and belong to that category.

I don’t know about Firefox Relay, but it only offers 5 addresses per your article, and Mozilla is in the habit of launching shiny new toys which it kills shortly afterwards.

I strongly encourage everybody to take advantage of the new services, which are actually alias providers and remailers. They can be identified by the fact they require you to open an account. This is a good thing, not a bad thing, including from the privacy standpoint.

You get a real inbox of your own, unlimited number of aliases, a monitoring panel to check activity and manage your aliases, and you can reply to or send from an alias (this might require more than the entry-level plan). All your aliases redirect to your mail email account, whether it is Gmail, Tutanota or any other one.

A saliant advantage is such services are sold on a freemium basis, which gives you the best of both worlds : they are for-profit companies, so you can be reasonably sure they will be around for a while, they will take care of their customers, and they will even provide customer support.

At the same time, they offer fully-fledged free plans, which provide most of the advantages of their category without requiring payment. Also, the entry paid plans are dirt cheap.

Really, it’s a no-brainer. Get an account now.

The two services I unreservedly recommend are 33 Mail and Anonaddy. I use both. Both offer a free plan with unlimited aliases, and an entry-level paid plan for almost nothing — 12 $ / year.

Anonaddy is more advanced, adds features at breakneck speed, pushes the limits up often with no increase in price, has very clever features, offers a very good embedded help and online help, and provides incredible fast and personalised customer support by the developer himself, both on his Reddit and by email.

But if you don’t need all of Anonaddy extra features, 33 Mail is a very good choice, too.

Both companies are British. Anonaddy is a one-man outfit, and 33 Mail a two-men one.

You’ll hear a lot of praise for Simple Login, too. I don’t use it, but just reading its site, I feel that its higher price (30 $ / year) is not justified by its features. The free plan is somewhat of a scam, since with 15 aliases only, it can’t be called a genuine alias providing option.

But if 30 $ / year is within your budget, do try it : many people only swear by it. That company is French.

There are probably other worthwhile services in that category. A bit of research would likely dig up interesting candidates.

I definitely advise against Spamex. I have used it for more than a decade. It was my sole such service for ages. While I appreciated its superior features (some of them still not being matched by others), and I liked the fact that it “just worked” without ever evolving, it must be said that it has become definitely obsolete by now.

Its user interface is a joke. You’d think you are under MS-DOS, Windows 3.1 at best. The home page still blabbers about Netscape. There are only paid plans, but there’s almost no help available, and the customer support email address fails to elicit any response.

Furthermore, the developer of the service has vowed years ago to offer a long-needed update of the site, and he has never followed up on his promise.

The straw which breaks the camel’s back is that Spamex still does not offer a 2FA option for log-in, which is unacceptable, in this day and age, for a provider holding the key to most of your email. I stopped my subscription last year.

You may also like...