It may seem like a small thing to some, but our email accounts are actually really important. They're filled with records of things we've bought and ordered – which is great when disputing things with businesses trying to pull a fast one – but they're also a record of messages and photos from family and friends.
Of course, there's a worry that when you're changing your broadband provider, you could lose all these things, so we're here to look at the ways of ensuring you don't lose what's important to you, and whether or not you can keep your old email addresses, in case you don't need to do anything at all.
In some instances, you can – but sometimes there can be a monthly charge. The fact of the matter is your email address is not transferable like your landline or mobile phone number is. Unless you're using a third-party webmail address, chances are you'll lose that address and, after a period, all the contents of that email account, including any contacts or photographs you have in there.
It isn't the end of the world though, as there's a lot of solutions – provided you act in good time. Some ISPs have a period where you can use your old email account before deleting it, so you may have to act quickly. Let's look at each of the major broadband providers and see how they operate.
If you've switched broadband from BT to another company, you'll be able to keep your BT email address, but there is a catch – after 60 days you will have to subscribe to BT Premium Mail, and that is going to cost you money every month.
That's the only option when it comes to BT, so if you don't want to pay for a monthly subscription to your email account, you will have to set up a new account elsewhere.
You can keep your Sky email address for as long as you want after you've cancelled your broadband, as long as you keep using it regularly. If you abandon it, Sky will close it down, assuming it is inactive. There are no fees to keep it active, so if you have a Sky email account, you're safe for life – or until they tell you otherwise.
If you cancel your Virgin Media broadband, you have 90 days to access your Virgin Media email before it vanishes forever, with all the contents going with it. Basically, Virgin Media give you a window in which you can move or save anything important to your computer or forward them to a new email address. After that 90-day period, it's gone for good.
If you're cancelling your TalkTalk package, then you've got 12 months to use your TalkTalk email account, during which you can send and receive messages. You won't be able to use the 'My Account' feature, so you can't actively manage your account (things like changing passwords). Also, if you leave your account idle for six months, TalkTalk will assume it's inactive and delete it.
If you switch your broadband from Plusnet to another company, you'll be able to keep your email address, but like BT, they will charge you a small monthly fee for the pleasure. You'll have to inform Plusnet that you want to keep using its email service, because if you don't, it will be deleted along with your account when you leave.
Most people use a third-party email account, with Google's Gmail being a very popular example. There's many to choose from, and if you don't have one already (you may have one from setting up your smartphone), then set one up and simply forward all the emails you want to your new third-party email address.
What is useful about these third-party email accounts is that it doesn't matter which broadband provider you're using because it isn't run by your ISP, so when you switch, it'll still be there and accessible from any machine. This is also great if you're between your exit and activation dates after switching, as you can use your webmail in a coffee house, at work or whichever connection you're using.
These accounts are free and offer great storage at no extra cost, so if you don't have one already, set one up now. All the storage means you'll be able to forward everything from your old account, and your web-based third-party account will easily have the space for it all.
If you want to download or export your contact list, then you either need to look at the support page of the account you're using or contact your broadband provider to see if they can help. Alternatively, you could just set up an auto-response on your old account which informs your contacts of your new email address when they message you.
You may also have to change the log-in details for any social media accounts, online banking, or subscriptions as they'll need an account that's in-use, should you want to do a password change or anything like that.
If you have any photographs or things you want to keep, then download them straight to your device (be it your phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, and the rest) and if storage is an issue, then look for a cheap portable hard-drive – there's plenty on the market for very reasonable prices, and you can store everything from your emails there, as well as using it as a handy thing to back-up the media on your computer.
Should you want to have storage for free, then there's a number of cloud options, like Google Drive, where you can store all your photos on what is basically a hard-drive that's virtual and online.
Most broadband providers will let you set up accounts with third-party emails. For example, if you're with BT and want to log-in to your account, you can do it with a Gmail address. Broadband providers will give you a new address, but rest assured, you don't have to actually use it.
Be clear when you're getting your new account and talking to the company's customer service representative that you'd like to use your third-party webmail address, be it Outlook (formerly Hotmail), Gmail, or whichever one you've gone for.
If you have your own email account that isn't tied to your provider, you'll be fine going forward.