Often, when one is online, an email address is requested. In many places, as a part of registration, a working email is required.

To best prevent spam, your email address should be jealously guarded, and not put out just anywhere. The more popular the location, the more likely some nefarious evil spammer is scanning for your address.

So, if you can’t use your address, what do you use? A throw-away address (or no address). There are many different services that provide just such an item – and for free!

These services offer different features, but basically come in two flavors: those that provide you with a “mailbox” at their web site where you can go and check it, and those that provide a forwarding service.

However, in most (or all) cases, these should not be considered anonymous email services; these are throw-away services. The goal is not to have completely private conversations, but to keep your email address from getting into the wrong hands as much as possible. These services provide privacy for your email address, not your conversations.

Here is a breakdown of what is available.

Forwarding Services

  • Trashmail.net: creates an address (by your request), with a limited number of forwards and a limited time for forwarding (both of your choosing). You can choose the address. It even offers optional challenge-response spam filtering.
  • Jetable.org: This service provides a forwarding service that only lives as long as you specify. It doesn’t have as many options as Trashmail.net, but it offers the same service.
  • SpamGourmet: A site that offers basic mail addresses that will forward to your address for a specific number of messages. While a login and password is required (to provide protection for your email address, and so forth), it is not necessary to log in to create a temporary address!

Temporary Mail Drops

  • Mailinator: creates a mailbox first time it receives an email, and later, you can check any received mail at that address.
  • Pookmail: Offers temporary addresses (that can be checked online) that are only active for 24 hours.
  • GuerrillaMail: Offers temporary addresses (that can be checked online) that are only active for 15 minutes.
  • Dodgeit.com: This service offers mailboxes that can be checked online, and deletes mails after seven days. Note addresses for this service are dodgit.com, not dodgeit.com (no, I don’t know why). It does offer one very unique service: watch the mailbox using RSS!

So which one do I use? I use Trashmail.net almost exclusively, but have used Mailinator before also (and would do so again). Jetable and Trashmail both offer Firefox extensions which make using their services very easy. However, since I use Camino, I can’t use them – no matter.

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