January 6th, 2011 @ Scott Davignon
I bet you can’t say that three times fast, neither can I. You might be wondering what a catch-all email address is? The name says is all, a mailbox that catches all mail not destined for a real mailbox.
For many years I have enjoyed wild card sub-domains for operating outside of DNS as far as deploying “services” on a domain for companies. I would just program the firewall to look for a specific host name and send the traffic to said service in the network and you can see with wild cards you don’t have to plan too much in the way of mapping out what will exist under what name. For instance vpn.domain.com or mail.domain.com, if you have an advanced firewall you can do all your sub domain mappings at that firewall and you set up DNS for *.domain.com. Then when you need to deploy a new service or website like “test1.domain.com” you can do so with minimal effort.
Much like DNS, e-mail has been around for just as long wild card mailboxes have been a standard, and with the ASP (Application Service Provider) trend that has now mutated into Clouds. Google has made it simple and free (except for domain name fees**) to have your own domain name with up to 50 email accounts. With a catch-all mailbox, 50 accounts turn into limitless. If you want to segment the gigantic world online, this is a great way.
I get thousands of emails every day, most from legit places, newsletters, fan mail, automated reports, and on and on. I was thinking one day there should be a way to sort the email proactively. That’s when I thought of wild cards and sure enough there is a setting, in Google GMail, if you poke around in the right places in the email settings, I took a screen capture to help find it again.
Right after you make this change you can starting using email@example.com any name that isn’t assigned to a real mail box will be directed to the mailbox you have entered for the catch all. Example: You want to try out a bit-torrent program and it requires signup from a valid email address. Right on the form you can create firstname.lastname@example.org and if the website your signing up for sells this email address you will know when you start getting excessive spam from the new email address. Lastly as the emails come in, let’s say from email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, I create a filter one time, with a rule to move the messages based on who the message it sent to, instead of the typical from.
I haven’t found any negative side effects to this method of email sorting, one that I thought I might have, if I forgot the email address I used when signing up with any service, then what? So far that hasn’t been an issue, as I have all the emails and it shows who they were sent to.
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