January 5, 2003 ·
I’ve been a subscriber to POBOX.COM for many years now. It has solved many email headaches and is a great service that deserves some pro bono praise. So click more for the praise (and obviously, I’ve got no financial connection (except my annual bill) to this great company at all).
The primary aim of POBOX.COM is mail forwarding. You sign up for an address (it gives you five aliases with any account), and it then forwards mail to that address to any number of mail servers. So, when you send mail to lessig@pobox, it gets routed to two separate email accounts.
I originally wanted this facility because I wanted to be able to redirect my mail to a local server. That’s become less important over time. More important now is simply the ability to echo mail. All my mail goes to two separate servers. I use one as my primary server, and one as my backup. The backup is a webmail service, so it is easy to get access to mail on the road.
The key benefit to this is that always, inevitably, one server is down at a critical moment, and I can bounce to the second if I need to. (I use AT&T as my primary email account, mainly because of the international dialing numbers. It has this annoying flaw, however, that if you get dumped from the line midway through downloading mail, it can remain “busy” for up to 10 minutes. I’d be eager to discover a replacement with an equally broad international dialup network.)
The one hassle to the email backup system is that sometimes the backup account gets full, and it can be a hassle to go through erasing all the emails on the account. But here’s where a classically-internet story comes in: I sent an email to the developer of a program called PopMonitor, asking whether he knew of a utility that could quickly delete the contents of a mailbox. PopMonitor allows you to do that, but only after downloading all the headers. In the spirit of the internet, this good soul from the Netherlands wrote such a program (called MailTrasher), and gives it away for free. So now, every week or so, it takes a second or so to trash my backup mail account.
POBOX.COM has been a great company. It provides lots of other services (like spam and email filtering), and has been extremely fast in responding to technical problems. Highly recommended for anyone who either (1) can’t keep a job, (2) is running from the law, or (3) needs the reliability of multiple systems to store and access his or her email.