It’s tough to achieve total anonymity online, but there are plenty of benefits from having it. Whether your reasons for flying under the radar, you can blend in much more easily with the help of some web services.
You probably know a VPN is a key tool for online protection, but what about leaking your personal email address? When you need to send or receive an email without using your real address, here are some great services that let you do just that.
Note: These services make no guarantees about privacy or security, as anyone can access an inbox you create without a password. Do not use disposable email services to transmit sensitive information or illegal content. Also note that many popular websites have blocked some of these domains.
While some throwaway email address providers look like they haven’t updated their site in a decade, Maildrop.cc provides a clean aesthetic and a simple service. Simply enter any address @maildrop.cc, or pick a suggested username, to access a throwaway inbox.
To protect from dangerous messages, Maildrop discards all email attachments. In addition, messages must be below 100 kilobytes. Each inbox holds a maximum of 10 messages, and any address that isn’t active for 24 hours gets reset. Finally, Maildrop also employs powerful spam protection, so even if you enter your address on a shady site, most of the junk won’t find its way to your temporary inbox.
For more security, you can use an alias address for your Maildrop inbox so others can’t just open it up in Maildrop themselves. Overall, Maildrop provides a clean, simple interface for when you have to enter your email address but don’t want to risk your own. It can’t send mail and it’s not meant for permanent use, but it’s a solid tool for getting a quick email.
Mailinator is one of the longest-running disposable email services, and it’s still a pleasure to use. Like Maildrop, all email inboxes are public, so you just need to enter a username @mailinator.com to check an inbox. Mailinator creates an account for an address as soon as email arrives for it, so you can make a name up on the spot and check it later. If you like, you can even use RSS to check your inbox.
You can’t send email through Mailinator, and all messages are deleted after a few hours. The service’s spam filters reject email with too many recipients and block all attachments. Because many websites block Mailinator as a known disposable service, there are plenty of extra domains that point to Mailinator, like @mailinator2.com.
Mailsac isn’t much to look at, but provides a few extra features if you need a “permanent” throwaway address. Everything is public and available without signing in like other services. However, signing up for a free account lets you send email, save messages so they don’t expire, keeps your inbox private, and lets you reserve multiple addresses.
If you don’t star/save messages, they expire within a week. Logged in users get a basic amount of storage; you can purchase more or “spin the wheel” to win credits for free.
While creating an account might go against the idea of having a disposable email address, having a collection of addresses which you can save emails in is great for testing projects, keeping track of which sites are spamming you, or just messing with friends.
If you want a website to give you an email address instead of choosing one, 10 Minute Mail is for you. This service doesn’t offer anything fancy; whenever you visit it, the site simply generates an email address for you (we got email@example.com). A timer counts down ten minutes, at which point your inbox is destroyed.
A refresh button lets you gain additional time by resetting the clock, which you can use as many times as you need. If you close the browser window or let time run out, you can’t go back to that temporary inbox again. Because of this, 10 Minute Mail has a bit more security built-in — nobody else can see the inbox you’re viewing.
GuerrillaMail is a powerhouse for disposable email address users. It provides several domain names (like @sharklasers.com and @spam4.me) and you can change your randomly assigned email address at any time. Address are permanent, but all email is deleted after an hour. Unlike other services, GuerillaMail doesn’t filter any incoming messages, so you’re free to open attachments and view spam messages.
If you’re trying to trace an email, GuerillaMail also lets you view the source of any messages you receive. The maximum size of emails/attachments is a whopping 150MB, and you can even send attachments if you like. You can’t sign in, so anyone could potentially access the inbox you’ve chosen.
Blur is actually a suite of privacy tools, not just a disposable email address service. Their free plan includes a password manager, an Autofill utility, and tracker blocking, as well as the email masking service we’re interested in.
In essence, Blur allows you to “mask” the information you give to websites whenever you like. If you’re signing up for a website and don’t feel comfortable giving your email address, clicking Mask my data supplies a different email address. Whenever that site tries to send you an email, Blur just forwards it onto you, preventing abuse of your email address.
If this sounds like something you’d like, the Premium plan lets you mask your credit card and phone numbers, as well.
No More Spam!
No matter your reason for using a disposable email, one of these six services should suit you perfectly. If you’re not sure which one is best for you:
- Maildrop and Mailinator are great for quick usage, such as one-off confirmation emails.
- Mailsac is the best if you don’t mind creating an account and want a “permanent” throwaway address.
- 10 Minute Mail provides (relatively) the most privacy as nobody else can access your current inbox.
- GuerillaMail provides unfiltered access to email, including attachments, and lets you send email without signing in.
- Blur is great if you want a total security solution and rarely give out your real email address.
If you’re still dealing with spam on your primary address, check out mistakes that can result in spam.
Which throwaway email address service is your favorite? Please share your uses for these services and add your favorites to the list by leaving a comment!
Image Credit: Lolostock via Shutterstock.com