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Launching the most advanced disposable email service

May 31st, 2020

I've spent the past 2 months working on Mailmask, my latest startup project. And today I'd like to write a little introduction into what it is and why it's cool!

Why disposable emails?

Often times, in order to access an online service we may need to provide an email address. If it's a service that we intend to use for a long time and we trust that they will not share our data without our consent, then we probably won't mind sharing our real email address with them.

However, in all other cases what we'd ideally like to do is to not give them our real email address. This is mainly so that:

  • We don't have to share any personal data (i.e. our real email address) with them. Thus they can't sell our real personal data to spammers.
  • We can stop receiving correspondence from them in future by disabling or abandoning the temporary email address we gave them. This is especially useful in cases where the "unsubscribe" link for a newsletter doesn't work.

It's in situations like these that "disposable" email addresses come in handy. Disposable or "temporary" email addresses are addresses which are generated on-the-fly and which can be discarded later. And they're perfect for tackling the problem described above.

The problem with existing services

Most existing dispoable email services can be split into 2 categories - web-based inboxes and forwarding services.

Web-based inboxes

A website which gives a single disposable address for all users to use or generates one on-the-fly for you. All the arriving emails must be read on the website and are usually visible to anyone who knows the link. There is obviously very little privacy in this model since anyone can read the incoming email. Plus you can't use your existing email client to handle the mail.

Another key poins it that the generated addresses tend to short-lived by design so this service is really only suitable for one-time verification codes and other such emails.

Forwarding services

These services usually generate single or multiple disposable addresses for you which transparently forward all incoming email to your real email address. This is good in that you can use your existing mail client and email provider to actually handle the email. And this in turn means you get more privacy.

However, the issue with these services is that you usually need to either install a browser extension or use their website to pre-generate the disposable addresses before you can use them. The reason for this is that these services have no way of knowing which user owns a given disposable address unless the user has already told them beforehand.

Why Mailmask is better

Mailmask is fundamentally a forwarding service but with a difference. When you register with Mailmask, you pick a username, e.g. jim. We then create a rule in our system whereby an email we receive at @jim.msk.sh gets sent to your real email address. So, whether we receive emails at [email protected] and/or [email protected], everything will get forwarded to your real email address.

What this means in practice is that you can happily go and off create a variety of email addresses for any scenario as long as they all end in @jim.msk.sh.

You don't need to use a browser extension or tell us beforehand what addresses you're going to create ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Thus you have the maximum amount of flexibility when it comes to generating disposable addresses. You could even think up a new address when you're wishing to give a person your email address, it doesn't just have to be for websites. There really is no limit.

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