Verizon Punts Email to AOL. What Do You Do Now?

AOL mail gives Verizon a shove

Does Verizon's recent move to end email services and move millions of email boxes to AOL have you thinking about alternatives? We can help. Here's some useful information and recommendations to keep in mind while you consider your options.

Tip #1: Doing Nothing Isn't An Option

When you receive the email from Verizon notifying you that the mail service is being ended, you'll have about 30 days to act. If you do nothing, your email box will be deleted and you will lose access to all your past mail.

Fortunately, Verizon is providing an option that will buy you some time. You can choose to let them move your mailbox to AOL, and it will keep your @verizon.net address, at least for now. No word currently on how long Verizon will let these addresses stick around. AOL is owned by Verizon, but like any company it could be sold at some future point.

Our recommendation is to let Verizon convert your mailbox to AOL. There are other options. For example you could switch to Outlook.com or Gmail, but these require more work and you'd lose your @verizon.net address. That could make it very difficult for you if you need to recover passwords from online account where you provided that address.

Fortunately, it looks like AOL's service will have better capabilities than the Verizon email service did, so you'll have more options available if and when you decide to permanently change your email address. Remember that even if you take them up on the offer to move to AOL, you aren’t locked in; you can always move to a new account later.

Tip #2: Inventory Your Online Accounts and Passwords

Because Verizon's email service is going away, you can end up in a bind if you were using a @verizon.net account to login to other web sites or cloud services. Now would be a good time to do a crawl of your old email and inventory any sites and services you've previously registered - old ones as well as those you currently still use.

Once you know which accounts are important to you, services like LastPass or RoboForm can be used to store your login information. This will reduce the chances that you'll need to fall back on password reminders that rely on your email address. Then, you can go into each service and update your profile to reflect your new address. Or, delete the account if you no longer need it, which will help protect you from username/password leaks that have become far too commonplace in recent years.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, consider what could happen if you find that you need to recover an account, but you can't because the @verizon.net email account no longer exists. So, for a quick fix, go back to Top #1 and let them more your address to AOL *before* you move to a new service provider.

Tip #3: Consider Replacement Email Services

Once you switch your Verizon email to AOL, you may still want to consider other options. Why? One reason would be because AOL is a consumer service, and perhaps you've been using your Verizon account for business. Or, maybe you aren't fond of AOL's user interface, tools, or customer support and would prefer to work with a different company. Yet another reason would be if you want to protect yourself in case AOL and Verizon parts ways at some future point - or if maybe they decide to merge AOL and Yahoo! Services together.

Whatever your motivation, you may decide that you want to make a permanent switch. Here are some options you can consider.

If you're a consumer using the Verizon account for personal reasons, the good news is that you have many other great options. You can create a free account at Outlook.com, Microsoft's successor to Hotmail and MSN. (Use this link provided here, then click "Get a new email address".) Or, you can do the same at Gmail, Yahoo, or any number of other great providers. In case it affects your decision, keep in mind that Yahoo is also being bought by Verizon and that it and AOL will be merged into something currently being called "Oath", whatever that means.

If you've been running a small or home based business using your Verizon email address, it might be time to think about upgrading to a business class service like Office 365.

Office 365 has plans that include the latest version of Office (including Outlook), email service with perks like shared calendars, spam protection, and your own domain name (e.g. @mycompany.com). It even has voice telephone services for businesses. These services aren't outrageously expensive, will make your small business look extremely professional, and can really level the playing field against larger competitors. All these services and more are available for less than $50 a person per month.

If you decide that you'd like to explore Office 365 as an option for your business, please feel free to give us a call. If you have a few minutes, you can fill our free Microsoft Cloud Services Assessment form and/or free Office 365 Migration Assessment form, and we'll follow up with you to schedule a free consultation. We're very attentive to our customers, will take the time to understand your business and go over all the options, and we offer lot of valuable but affordable services to go along with Microsoft plans that can take your business to the next level.

Tip #4: Collect Addresses of Your Contacts and Send a Notice

If you plan to permanently move your email address, you may want to let friends, family, customers, and business colleagues know. While you certainly can't force anyone to update their contact information for you, doing all that you can is certainly advisable. This is also possibly a good opportunity to rekindle communication with old contacts that you may not have heard from in a while - and you never know what opportunities could come from that.

Of course, to tell everyone about your move, you'll need their contact information. If you've been disciplined about keeping Contacts up to date, you might already have this, but many times we may have exchanged email with folks who never made it to our contacts folder. Fortunately, there are still ways to get this data so that you can make good use of it.

While you may be using different email software, here's how you'd do this in Outlook:

  1. In Outlook click on File, then Open & Export tab, then Import and Export button. This will open the wizard.
  2. Select the option to "Export to a File" and click on Next.
  3. Select "Comma Separated Values" and click Next. You can open this later in Excel.
  4. Select the folder you want to collect from and click on Next. We want "Sent Items" in this case. You could also do this for "Inbox".
  5. Enter a file location or click "Browse" to pick a folder and type the file name, then click Next.
  6. Click on "Map Custom Fields" button. This will bring up a list of all the available fields that are available in that folder.
  7. Since we only want the email address and name, click on "Clear Map".
  8. From the Left side click-and-hold on "To: (address)", "To (name)", "CC (address)", and "CC (name)"; drag each to the Right list. For Inbox you would do this for "From: (address)" and "From (name)" instead.
    • Pro Tip: If you also include the date/time of the email, you can use it to break your list out into years and track when you last contacted people.
  9. You can optionally click Next a few times to preview the results.
  10. When you're ready, click on OK then Finish.
  11. Now, you can open the results in Excel and do any de-duplication or other data clean-up you need to do.
  12. Once you have your list of addresses, you can use a service like MailChimp or Constant Contact to send an announcement to those you need to keep in touch with.

Please be polite and remember that it is considered very bad form to send e-mails out to a large audience using the CC or BCC features, since these may allow your contacts to see each other's address and even reply to each other. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone do that only to watch my inbox blow up with a dozen replies of "please take me off your list." Keep you communications 1 on 1, use a bulk mail service, or see Tip #5.

Outlook users may also want to go spelunking for the Suggested Contacts folder to capture those addresses as well. To find this, go to Folders, then Contacts and scroll down until you see "Suggested Contacts" which should be just between "Sent" and "Sync Issues". You can copy these into your new account, export then to PST for later use, or export them to CSV as described above.

Tip #5: Set-up An Auto-Responder

After you switch your account to AOL, which we recommend that you do, you can set up an auto-reply rule to let people know that you're going to move permanently. This is something that Outlook does very well, and we've helped many customers to set this up before. If you don't have Outlook, or prefer an option that works when your computer isn't online, you can set up an away message in AOL Mail using their website.

Smooth Sailing or Rough Waters Ahead?

With these tips in mind, your Verizon email transition should be a pretty smooth one. Did you have a different experience or something that you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments.