Many people keep a personal email account separate from their work email address. I recommend this practice for several reasons.
First, it helps to keep business and personal issues separate.
Second, it keeps a lot of the spam messages out of your work email box. If you use one of the free web-based services like Hotmail or Yahoo, you can abandon the account and open a new account when the spam gets too bad. If the spammers infest your work account, you're stuck.
Third, if you set it up right, it's portable. Few people are lucky enough to work at one company for their entire career and all of us hope to retire someday. When you're no longer an active employee, you lose the company-provided email address. A personal address provides continuity during your transition. If you use one of the free web-based services, you're not even dependent on your personal Internet Service Provider. You can switch from AOL to RoadRunner and back without ever making your family and friends change their address books.
There are a few things you should remember about your personal email account, though.
- Never use your personal email account for work. Customers and coworkers expect us to communicate through a consistent channel. In these days of spam and email spoofing, messages from any address other than your official work address will be met with justifiable suspicion.
- In almost all situations, your company does have the right to monitor your personal email if you check it on a work computer (and in some situations, is obligated to do so). If you're on your work computer, all the normal rules about professionalism and appropriate use still apply.