At the recent genealogical seminar I attended I met up with a colleague I had not seen since the National Genealogical Society conference in May. We were catching up and he mentioned he was still trying to recover about 13,000 emails that had been lost. That’s a lot of emails! Here’s how it happened:
In our area Verizon used to be one of our internet service providers. In April, Frontier purchased Verizon’s customers. The transition was not seamless; there was much service disruption but it appeared that most of the problems had been corrected. Then, with no warning, my colleague woke up one morning a few weeks ago and discovered that he couldn’t access his Verizon email account. He contacted Frontier who told him they had nothing to do with it and he needed to call Verizon. Verizon told him he was no longer a customer so he no longer had access to his emails.
It’s always difficult changing addresses, whether it’s in the real world or virtually, but it is even more difficult when one is caught unexpectedly. He had received no warning that the account would be terminated. His contract with Verizon was for 2 years and everyone in our area had been informed that Frontier would honor and continue the Verizon contracts through their expiration. I don’t even know how breaching the contract can be legal since he’s still under contract but that’s a whole different issue!
The colleague quickly made a gmail account and then began the arduous task of updating his email address all over the internet. Been there, done that, not fun!
Although hubby and I had a Verizon email account we rarely used it and I don’t think I’ve checked it in the last few years. In fact, I had forwarded the account to our gmail account at least five years ago. I completely missed that the account disappeared.
The wasted time in having to update to the new account, though, wasn’t the most upsetting situation. The loss of all the saved emails was the most devastating. I can only imagine!
Back in the day, like most Americans, we had an AOL account. We continued to use the account well into the 2000’s even though our children loved to poke fun at us old fogies still sticking with AOL. I pointed out I was being a loyal customer. So much for loyalty! About 2010 our account got hacked. We changed passwords. It was hacked again. AOL sent us a rather IMHO nasty email that warned us that our account would be cancelled if we continued to share our passwords with others. Huh?! We hadn’t done that. I was over them so I created a gmail account. Hubby wanted to continue with AOL so he once again changed the password. I spent a weekend updating the new account info to our many online accounts. Over the next few weeks I went through the saved emails and purged. Many, though, were of genealogical significance – notification of a cousin’s marriage, the death of an aunt, graduation dates and connections with long lost relatives who had found postings I had placed on bulletin boards. I forwarded those emails to gmail and placed them in a folder titled Genealogy. A few weeks after I completed the transfers, the account was again hacked. We received the same letter and this time, hubby was through with them. That account is still open and maybe once a year I go on it to see if any long lost relative has rediscovered my original tree on Rootsweb’s World Connect or one of those old bulletin board posts that I can no longer update to provide a newer email address. It hasn’t happened yet but who knows? Mostly I find a thousand junk emails that I delete en mass.
I now save emails that are of value to my computer and to a cloud. This way, if I have to abandon gmail for another email account I haven’t lost anything important. For emails that were of special importance, such as a photo or record attachment, I also attach to my tree, copy and paste the email contents into the citation. I feel very fortunate that my transition was on my own terms. Heed the warning!