Segregating Email With Sub-Domains

I like to segregate my email by using unique addresses for many services. This makes things more secure, but it isn’t perfect…

My pal, Luke Harris, recently wrote about how he’s decided not to use plus addressing any more and I get why. Plus address can be useful for stopping spam, but it’s easy to lose track of which address you have used where.

Luke talks about a recent example in his post where he thought his Twitter account used the +twitter plus address, but was actually using +social.

It’s easy to do – I’ve done it myself, many times.

My email setup

I personally don’t use plus addresses. They’re useful, but I’ve found that a growing number of sites don’t accept plus addresses.

Instead, I use a sub-domain with a catch-all address configured. So let’s say my email domain is quirk.xyz and my main email address is kev@quirk.xyz. What I do is setup a subdomain that uses my email prefix.

This means that kev@quirk.xyz becomes the sub-domain kev.quirk.xyz. I do this for the rest of my family too, so my wife gets jen.quirk.xyz and my sons will get similar addresses when they’re older.

I then set a catch-all up for that sub-domain that delivers [anything]@kev.quirk.xyz to kev@quirk.xyz. If I sign up for Spotify, for example, the email I would use is spotify@kev.quirk.xyz.

This way, all my emails are segregated by service. So if Spotify are ever compromised and I start getting a load of spam to that address, I can easily change it without affecting other services.

The problem with this setup

Like Luke, the issue here is that’s it’s difficult for me to track which address I’ve used where.

There have been many occasions where I’ve been asked what my email address is on the phone, and my answer is usually “I dunno, but it should end in @kev.quirk.xyz…” which is usually enough to validate the email when on the phone.

To go back to Luke’s example with Twitter though, I’d be as equally screwed as he was. I do try to record any associated email addresses with an account in my Bitwarden notes section. That doesn’t always happen though.

Final thoughts

This setup isn’t perfect, but it works for me. If there’s anything that’s really critical, like Internet banking, or my mortgage, I’ll always make sure I either use my proper email address, or that the unique address is recorded.

I’ve considered using services like DuckDuckGo’s Email Protection or Apple’s Hide My Email; both services easily track which emails align to which service, but I really don’t like the lack of control I’d have by using someone else’s domain for my mail.

Given the protection this setup offers, I think it’s worth the relatively small headache. What do you use to protect your mailbox?

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