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another old-school isp offering bites the dust

I was notified the other day that my ISP is discontinuing "Personal Home Pages", abbreviated as PHP (not to be confused with the programming language of the same name) and will be gone on January 31, 2011.

Yeah, I understand why they're giving PHP the axe. The servers used to push out the pages are probably as old as dirt and from a biz perspective it's not worth farming out the service because it won't make any money.

Even though I understand all this, ISPs are almost to the point where you get internet access and nothing else.

Back in the day with every ISP account there were four things included by default:

  1. Internet access
  2. 5 email addresses
  3. Newsgroup access
  4. Personal web space w/FTP access

After January 2011, my ISP will only offer three of these four. Amazingly they still offer newsgroup access, but who knows how long that will last. Probably not too much longer.

Today, out of the four above, most ISPs only offer two services. Internet access and email addresses. That's it. Then there are your ISPs that only offer access but farm out their email to somebody else. AT&T for example uses a branded Yahoo! Mail, so in reality they're not really running the email.

If your ISP hosts their email themselves, chances are it's seriously old and seriously clunky. My ISP for example only offers addresses that allow for maximum 100MB of storage. I'm not kidding. This is a big reason why there are so many mail client users still using POP, because if they didn't they'd run out of space real fast. Also, the webmail interface for that mail looks like something straight out of 2002, complete with a huge banner ad at the top. And if that weren't bad enough, you're basically forced to write mails in plain text whether you want to or not because the formatted text editor is in Java. Again, not kidding. It's a slow-loading Java too that'll make your browser crash easily.

Does the email actually work? Yes, it does, and surprisingly quite reliably - but that doesn't take away the fact it's very old and obsolete.

The reason why ISPs who still self-host mail operate the way they do is simply because they don't care, and furthermore put absolute zero dollars into upgrading it. The only time any money is spent on mail server stuff is for maintenance and nothing else. The last time my ISP updated their mail system was probably two Presidents ago. Yeah, think about that one for a moment. Boggles the mind.

My advice is to never use anything provided by your ISP unless it's something you're willing to lose. I can only imagine how many people on my ISP (it's a big one) are going to attempt to visit their personal home page on February 1, 2011 only to find it's gone, because you know a ton of them didn't get the notification email I did.

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