Can You Switch ISPs Without Losing Your Email Address?

Can You Switch ISPs Without Losing Your Email Address?
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This week’s Ask Lifehacker question is something many older users wonder after parting ways with their longtime ISP – is it possible to keep your old email address and all of your contacts when making the switch?

Lifehacker reader Kenneth asks:

I live in a rural area and originally only had access to Telstra for internet. In the intervening years, several alternative ISPs have popped up in my area. If I switch to one of those, what happens to my old email? Can I keep my Bigpond/Telstra email address or do I need a completely new one? Thanks, Kenneth

Dear Kenneth,

You can keep your old email address open after leaving Telstra – but only if you’re willing to pay for it. Access will remain free for the first 12 months after you close your account. After that you’ll need a Paid Email account which costs $79 per year.

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to migrate everything over to your new email address during the 12-month grace period. You can then close the account and concentrate on the new one.

We’ve previously provided some great tips for when you’re switching email providers, but here’s a checklist if you need the quick version:

  • If possible, move your messages to your new service using any tools they might provide (like Gmail’s, for example).

  • Otherwise, consider downloading all of your existing messages to an offline app — which you can do if you connect the app to your email service via POP3. (assuming your email service doesn’t otherwise offer some easier way for you to download all your messages).

  • Export your contacts, if possible, into a simple .CSV file. Import those into your new email service.

  • Set up email forwarding so you’re still receiving messages sent to your old account (for a little bit, at least). Telstra has step-by-step instructions here.

  • Tell everyone who needs to know that you switched your email address.

  • When you’re ready, close your old account.

Incidentally, it’s always a smart move to join a third-party email client instead of using the one provided by your ISP. While this takes a few extra steps, it means you don’t have to migrate all your emails and contacts every time you switch providers.

If you’re looking to switch ISPs, I’d recommend exploring services like Gmail (for its free offerings), or Protonmail and Tutanota (for their privacy).

These email services are all free, so you won’t need to pay anything on top of your monthly internet bill. Hope this helps!

Cheers Lifehacker


  • If you have the old account setup in your email client also be sure to set the reply-to email address for that to your new email. This way should you send an email using the old any responses will come back to the new account.

    Especially handy if your ISP does not have an easy means to forward all email to your new account.

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