How to change your email address without losing your friends

Mohammad Anwar has to change his email address. He asked for advice on handling the transition.

Think of all the places where your old email address resides, outside of your immediate control, waiting to give people plenty of false information. There are other people's address books, old messages in people's inboxes, Web sites that use your address as your logon name, and your business cards.

Changing your email address can be quite a chore.

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The first thing you need to do is check with your old mail provider and find out how long you can keep the old address and at what price. It's probably worth the money to keep it for at least a few months.

Then you need to tell everyone. Using your new address, send an email to everyone in your address book--friends, relatives, and business associates. Address the message to yourself (again, with the new address), and BCC everyone else.

The BCC part is important. Providing everyone with everyone else's email address is going to get people angry--especially if some people reply to all.

Set up your mail client to receive messages from both accounts. Check the client's features to see if there's a way to send an automated response in reply to any message coming from the old address--and only the old address. The message, of course, should remind them to use the new address.

Meanwhile, go through all of the Web sites you log onto via your email address, and change your account information to reflect your new address.

Finally, consider buying your own domain name, and using an email address from there. No one can take away your email address if you own the domain. You can get a domain name for less than $20 a year.

And speaking of expenses, don't forget to reprint your business cards.

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