What happens to my email address when I switch provider?


"I'm switching broadband provider but my current supplier provides my email address - what will I need to do to switch email addresses? Will I still be able to use the old one?"

Keeping emails is a tricky business.

The general rule is that providers leave email accounts alone when we switch but it's often worth backing up and moving to our new ISP's service - or better still, to free webmail.

Although there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that it can be just fine to use a previous provider's address for months and years after switching ISPs are under no obligation to keep those accounts open.

Switching and emails: the rules

Let's look at the policies of the big providers.

ISP Can I keep my email?
BT Mail Yes, for £5 a month. Otherwise email access will be lost after 30 days.
Sky Yahoo! Mail Yes.
TalkTalk Webmail Yes.
Virgin Media Mail No, email will be deleted after 90 days.
Plusnet email Yes, for £1.06 a month. Otherwise email access will be lost.
EE email No.

Here's some more detail about these policies.

BT: email@btinternet.com or email@btopenworld.com

Got BT Yahoo! Mail?
Find out how to switch to
BT Premium Mail here

According to BT's help centre, BT customers who cancel their broadband subscription will have access to their free BT email account for 30 days after their broadband ends, after which BT will suspend the account.

During this time customers may wish to sign up for BT Mail Premium, a paid email service, to keep both the BT email addresses and emails connected with their old account.

It's best to start the move from standard BT mail to BT Premium Mail as soon as possible; it takes up to 24 hours for the switch to be made. Those who don't activate BT Premium Mail within that time will have seven days after their free account is suspended to convert it to Premium and regain access to their addresses and mail. After that, the account will be deleted.

At the time of writing the service is priced at £5 a month.

Sky: email@sky.com

For some time now, Sky customers have been offered what Sky call "email for life".

Technically, it's simply Yahoo! webmail with a bit of Sky branding, but we like that Sky let their customers keep their email addresses even if they change ISP.

The only real danger is for Sky email users who set up their account to automatically forward to another address. Users who do this must still log in to Sky Yahoo Mail at least once every five months to prevent their account being marked as dormant and suspended.

If they don't log in to the Sky Yahoo Mail service for six months, the suspended account will be deleted.

TalkTalk: email@talktalk.net

TalkTalk also offer email via a webmail service, which remains accessible even after customers have moved to another ISP.

Elements of the service have improved in recent years, with the biggest improvement being that people who leave TalkTalk retain access to their My Account area for 12 months afterwards. As well as being the control panel for the broader TalkTalk account, it's the area where customers can create or delete email addresses, and change their password if needs be.

After 12 months have gone by, customers lose access to this feature - but TalkTalk are keen to point out that customers with a talktalk.net address can change their passwords using their reset service; we'll need the alternative email address or mobile number we registered with TalkTalk when we first set up the account.

Users need to log in at least once every six months to prevent their accounts being marked dormant - and if an account is completely inactive for 12 months it'll be deleted.

Virgin Media: email@virginmedia.com

Virgin email aliases
  • @virginmedia.com
  • @ntlworld.com
  • @blueyonder.co.uk
  • @virgin.net
  • Virgin Media's policy is just about the exact opposite.

    While Sky and TalkTalk let their users keep their email accounts for as long as they want to keep using them, Virgin Media are just about the exact opposite.

    They give former customers 90 days from the date their services end to set up a new account somewhere else, move everything they need across, and inform everyone of the change. After that, Virgin will clear out our contacts and messages, remove our personal data and reclaim the email address - potentially for recycling (see below).

    Although this last issue only applies to those with an @virginmedia.com address, all existing customers who have an email account with Virgin Media (see the list of address types to the right) need to log in and check their mail at least once every 90 days, or risk their account being marked "unused" and suspended, pending deletion.

    Plusnet: email@username.plus.com

    When a Plusnet account is closed, the former customer loses access to all their old account features, including email.

    However, those who want to keep their Plusnet email address can do so by requesting a downgrade to Plusnet's Mail Only package, which costs £1.06 per month.

    Plusnet advise customers to make this request before they receive notice that we're migrating to a new provider - once the Plusnet account is closed it's too late - so as soon as we've signed with another ISP it's worth calling the Yorkshire company to get it set up.

    EE: mail@yourname.orangehome.co.uk/@fsmail.net and more

    EE don't provide email for their home broadband customers, but many people in their mid to late 30s are likely to have had an email account from Orange Broadband in one of their many guises.

    EE have provided access for people with one of these legacy addresses for years, both via webmail and via email clients like Outlook - but in February 2017 they announced that they'd be closing the service all together from the end of May that year.

    Orange webmail aliases
  • Orange.net
  • Orangehome.co.uk
  • Wanadoo.co.uk
  • Freeserve.co.uk
  • Fsbusiness.co.uk
  • Fslife.co.uk
  • Fsmail.net
  • Fsworld.co.uk
  • Fsnet.co.uk
  • There's a list of the affected address types to the right.

    People who've continued to use their Orange account - including those who use it as a login for any other services - will need to move their account to a new provider in order to help prevent security and access issues in the future.

    EE have produced a detailed guide as to who might be affected, and how to import or forward messages to a new account or service.

    Free and multiple accounts

    As is clear from that quick run through, some ISPs are really helpful when it comes to keeping our email, but for many of us it can feel like we have to cross our fingers and hope that it'll keep working.

    Whichever way our ISP leans, using an email client such as Outlook, Thunderbird or Mailbird (see our review here), which will collect mail from multiple accounts in one inbox could be well worth doing, at least while moving ISP.

    Doing this will make doubly sure that we don't lose all our old messages and contacts, and allows for some crossover while we phase in a new account from our new broadband provider.

    Here are some brief instructions on adding a new email account in Microsoft Office Outlook in Windows:

    Using Outlook on a Mac the procedure is very similar. Go to "preferences" then "accounts" and enter the information from the ISP.

    This should allow Outlook to access and download messages from both email accounts.

    Many people prefer to use one of the free online email accounts that are available, as they neatly avoid all of the problems above if and when we need to move broadband provider in the future.

    As well as being as functional as a dedicated email client like Outlook, they have the added bonus of being available wherever we can get online, which also acts as a backup.

    Indeed, EE said that one of the reasons they decided to close Orange email was that webmail providers like Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo! have far more in the way of useful features than they could offer.

    Recycling email addresses

    There's another issue concerning some moving email accounts: provider email recycling.

    Yes, even now that novelty email address we had when we left university is probably being used by a silver surfer in the Home Counties who's already ordered a set of William and Kate commemorative plates with it.

    It's Virgin Media, in particular, who have come under scrutiny for the practice. The reason for the concern is that a customer with a recycled address potentially has the ability to sign into websites used by its previous owner, access password retrieval, and subsequently take over the account.

    Consumer and privacy groups think that in order to preserve privacy and prevent conflicts old email addresses should be consigned to the dustbin of broadband history.

    However, Virgin Media say they wait six months before any possible reallocation.

    The Government's Information Commissioner added nothing to the debate by saying that, "The [Data Protection] Act requires that personal information should be kept secure and processed fairly."

    The best advice, it seems, is to change all important website logins which use an old email address since our ISP provider won't help with this.

    Online banking is the critical one (although we should never use personal email addresses as logins in any case), as well as any websites where detailed personal information is at risk, and also social media sites.


    15 May 2017
    Jennifer Rayner

    Hi, I am moving from BT to Sky tomorrow. I have a BTYahoo address although it ends in <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fbtopenworld.com%3Ab_Me8A0qX1mG7g7QGPYUqkiOl1o&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="btopenworld.com">btopenworld.com</a> Will I be able to keep it?

    16 May 2017
    Choose team

    Hi Jennifer, unfortunately you will only have access to this email address for 30 days after you switch provider. However you will have the option to sign up to BT's Mail Premium service, where you can pay to keep the email address. You can read more about this here: <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fbt.custhelp.com%2Fapp%2Fanswers%2Fdetail%2Fa_id%2F44499%2Fc%2F7339%3AOUzwZFCCFrPlRORX9I7m-yujSgs&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="http://bt.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/44499/c/7339">http://bt.custhelp.com/app/...</a>
    Hope this helps!

    15 March 2015
    Richard R

    I am in the process of moving home to another town in the North of England. At the present time I have EE line rental and broadband. I have an original fsnet email account which I access through Outlook and also on to my Windows phone. When I move I am considering getting a Sky package as I will be saving about &pound;10 per month. I have looked on many websites and now have conflicting knowledge. If I leave EE totally and go to Sky will I lose my fsnet email address?

    15 March 2015

    I have just contacted TalkTalk and they have said I will lose my email if I leave them.

    11 February 2015

    I'm moving from BT, is my <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fyahoo.co.uk%3A4_DWvyBX2t4wEcOyQGGVmZB3v2Q&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="yahoo.co.uk">yahoo.co.uk</a> account linked to BT?

    28 January 2015

    After switching ISP providers I bought a domain name and created my own email address. Now I will never have to change my email again.

    6 January 2015

    I am so anxious about losing my email address which is with Virgin. Can anyone please tell me how I can keep it?

    3 August 2015
    Linda Hurcombe

    I share your anxiety. I am working now to keep my <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fvirgin.net%3At6HHd-juMw44mc4aIUqH5BSKrV8&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="virgin.net">virgin.net</a> email address. Have you had any luck?

    20 November 2014

    Will I lose my AOL email if I switch to TalkTalk? Help!

    7 March 2015
    Jane Somerset

    HELP! IT IS 7.3.15. AOL have just shut off my email address despite promising not to do so. I am with Zen my internet provider who are excellent. My mailbox stopped working today with my AOL address. I cannot contact them as they do not recognise my user name or password.. please help. Jane Somerset.

    4 June 2015

    AOL did the same to me back in the days of dial up, My address was gone and unregistrable as a new email address, They're swines &amp;gt;.&amp;gt;

    27 March 2015
    Gez Yorkshire

    Talktalk have done exactly the same to me. We are now with Sky for everything and Talktalk have spoiled access to my Email account without warning. There's so much information lost from 8 years of involvement. What's the solution? Talktalk do not seem interested even if I break the bank to pay for retrieval.

    18 October 2014
    Ann Ditch

    I am trying to change to Sky and Talktalk have tried to railroad me into staying with them. I asked if we could keep the email address, they said I couldn't and my email addresses will be cancelled.
    However they were lying I must actively use the TalkTalk account to keep it open. It was only when I read the above that they agreed that it will be open.
    Moving to Sky as we have satellite but not an ariel and our TalkTalk bill went up to &pound;40 this month? For what?

    5 October 2014

    I'm currently with iprimus but as I am moving I have connected the new place to Telstra. I also use Live mail and just don't understand that when I go to the new place why my iprimus email won't receive or send with my bigpond internet connection. What is this issue and how do I fix it? Any help is appreciated.

    11 February 2014

    I have changed to BT, but I would like to use windows mail to deal with it, how do I set it up please?

    30 November 2013

    I got my email address when opening up a freeserve account more than 10yrs ago in my mum's name and have had the same one through freeserve wanadoo orange and now ee but I now have moved out. I've kept open the internet purely for the fact that they might delete the email address that I've had for that amount of time which for many website is my username that I can't change.

    30 October 2013
    susan sueradford55@gmsil.com

    I switched to Sky from Virgin in August and I am receiving emails into my Virgin AOL inbox on my phone but my account is closed. I have created a Gmail account but do I physically need to contact everyone who sends me emails to give my new address? There has to be a way to set up a forward to new address even if temporary like moving house!!

    14 August 2013

    I have had a BT email address since 2006 but I am now with Virgin - I have just received an email from BT saying they are closing some email services - is this correct - do I need to change over as I am not with BT - any ideas?

    15 April 2013

    I am about to change my husband's email from Virgin to BT. I want to be sure that he does not lose the emails in his outlook account when we choose a new email address... can you help?

    2 February 2013

    Optimum is not available in FL. Had to switch to Com.cast. Do I have to change my email address to comcast or can I keep optimum without paying optimum? If I have to change, how much time do I have?

    2 February 2013
    Choose team

    Hi Tim,

    Unfortunately, we only cover UK ISPs. However, we did have a quick look and although it's not obvious from the Optimum website, it does appear that Optimum email access is tied to the account and so access would end when cancelling the service.

    We also came across this forum post on <a href="http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dslreports.com%2Fforum%2Fr20797443-OOL-Can-i-keep-my-Optimum-email-adress%3Ae7yd-S_qlo4GEW-gUfF4weQGngc&amp;cuid=2412393" rel="nofollow noopener" title="http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r20797443-OOL-Can-i-keep-my-Optimum-email-adress">DSLReports</a>, which might be useful.

    28 January 2013

    I am desperate to leave Virgin - absolutely useless, it's down more times than I care to admit and they are no help - but I have had my email address since Blueyonder (taken over by Virgin) and I do not want to lose it. Also, my telephone number - it has been our home number for 50 years or more (my grandad) and it is the one point of contact for. . . well, everyone. Any ideas? Any hope? And who would be better than Virgin?

    28 January 2015

    If you still are considering this then you may want to buy a domain name with email plan. Costs about the same as lunch for two. Set up your own email address (me@mydomain.com). Now you will never have to change it again, forever. I did this after changing ISPs twice. Lowest cost one I found
    is at Internetdirectsolutions . com. You don't need hosting so saves a lot of money. Most phone numbers are transferable for a one time fee and some do it free. Check with a new provider to make sure they will transfer it before signing up for a new ISP.

    16 October 2012

    Will I lose my Demon email address if I switch to BT broadband?

    14 April 2011
    j c

    Will I lose my Tiscali email address if i switch to BT broadband?

    14 April 2011
    Choose team

    We haven't got any personal experience of Tiscali's email system but I think the information above is likely to hold in in a situation like this. Emails are likely to be safe for a while after switching providers but moving to a BT email address as you switch would be safest. It's part of BT broadband's set-up process so should be fairly simple, too.

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