Email Continuity Planning – Using a Backup Account

We’ve become dependent on E-Mail and it is probably for most of us the most important tool we use daily in our work. That is not a bad thing, Email was a great invention, one that has made our communications easier and our businesses more productive. But what about when your Email account stops working suddenly. This can be a frustrating time, but here are some things we can do before that happens:

  1. Add a link to our Email providers status page to our favorites.
  2. Create a contact with the support phone number and address for your Email provider.
  3. Create a backup account for redundancy.

How to add a link to your providers status page

Providers don’t want to have to manually respond and tell their thousands of customers one at a time about trouble with their service. For that reason they provide status pages and even RSS feeds with updates on service issues. One of our hosting partners is Rackspace for example, they provide a status page that shows what is happening with all of their services:

Excerpt of Status Page at Rackspace

Excerpt of Status Page at Rackspace

What you see in this example is the motivation for this article, Rackspace is experiencing connectivity issues with their Email accounts. To find the status page for your provider search the web for ” Email status page”. Here are some common providers status pages, not all providers give easy access:

Critical Support Contact Details

Find and save the contact details for support at your Email provider. There might be a time where you only have access to your phone and it might be impractical to access the status page depending on your situation. If you are driving down the road for example, it’s a whole lot easier to make a phone call using your hands free smart phone than pull over and research or read the status of an issue. This will also help you determine if it’s just you or if there are problems elsewhere out of your control. Most tech support departments deal with a wide variety of problems and can offer you with some basic troubleshooting tips if the issue is on your end.

Create a Backup Email Account for Redundancy

This is perhaps the most critical preparation step you can make, because if you ever face a pro-longed outage this could save you a lot of lost productivity. The steps are relatively simple.

  1. Pick a back up provider (I use Gmail) and establish an account.
  2. Setup your current Email to forward all messages to the newly established account (be sure to enable the option to “save a copy of all forwarded messages”).

In the event of an outage, you can then revert to the backup account and you should have the majority of the messages you received prior to that outage. In some cases the forwarding might be working even though you cannot check Email. This provides another opportunity to limit the effect a problem might have on you. This backup account can also be useful in other ways.

Extra uses of your Backup Email Account

Having a backup Email account can be very useful, here are some other tips to get more out of it.

  1. Having delivery problems to a particular recipient? Use the backup account and see if it has something to do with your main address or domain.
  2. Blind CC: everything you send from your main account to the backup account, you will then have another log (other than sent items) of all your messages sent.
  3. Having problems receiving Emails? You can test sending to your primary account to see if there is a problem not being addressed by your vendors status page.
  4. Use it when a site or service requires you to provide an Email address to get access to something. You can receive the confirmation on the backup account and keep your main account free from future messages from that entity.

Add your own tips, questions or feedback in the comment section below or via Email.