WARNING - This review may end up being long because I have several areas that I feel are important to cover in this review.
Recommend this product?
I know there are over 450 reviews for Earthlink and one more won't make a bit of difference but I had been meaning to write one for a while. So I might as well through in my opinion with everyone elses on this topic.
A Little History
Well I first got a computer in late 1994 and looked for a service. Well where I lived at the time there was only AOL so I had to go with them. I was so excited when PacBell announced they had service in the area. Well that only lasted a month because I found out that what they had listed as a local number was not a local number so back to AOL I went - even though I didn't want to. Then along came MCI because I had started school at UCR and there was a deal for MCI through the school but after I moved out of the dorms that summer, I had also had to go back to AOL again.
Now here comes the excitement. One day I was checking my mail and there was a disk from Earthlink saying they had a new number in my area. I was so happy I signed up that day and dropped AOL so fast, even though they offered me service for $4.95 a month. I said no and started my path on Earthlink.
I moved a couple years ago out of this area and left Earthlink for a while but when I moved back home the first call I made was to Earthlink to get things all set-up again. And I have not left since then, which was in December.
Let's get this out of the way right away. All ISP's have disconnects at times, no matter how much they try not to or how many lines they have in your area or anything else you will always get disconnected once in a while. I have found ways to not get disconnected for inactivity (even while I am reading long epinions I won't get disconnected) because I have my mail set to check mail every 5 minutes so it keeps my connection active.
Now I will say that I do get disconnected at times and a friend actually reminded me that I wanted to write this because of disconnects last week that keep kicking me off every 10 minutes for about an hour long period. Yes that was annoying and I was getting very mad about that at the time but like I pointed out all ISP's have disconnects and problems at times so I learned to deal with this.
Worst Day on Earthlink
There was one day, that I still remember. It was about February 11, 1999 - and yes I do have a habit of remembering days very well, but I know it was a Thursday of that week and I am just far too lazy to actually look up the exact date right now.
Anyway, I could connect but I couldn't do anything at all. No mail! No sites! Nothing would come up. I dialed and redialed for what seemed like hours and finally I found that I could get to hotmail.com but that was it and it would take me forever for the page to even load. Yes, finally it would but it would take about 2 minutes. I sent a couple e-mails to friends explaining what was happening so they wouldn't worry not seeing me on ICQ or sending mail. And then disconnected.
I called Earthlink and heard on their message that they were having some major problems. This lasted the whole day but the next day everything was back to normal.
Now this was a horrible day and I explained this day to everyone because it will show you that even though something this bad had happened I still stay with Earthlink because in all honesty this has never happened since and they admitted that they were having problems which I do admire honesty in companies that I deal with.
With the account that I have which is unlimited access (and yes they do really mean unlimited not 150 or 250 hour limit like many ISP's have now) you also get 7 e-mail accounts which for me is very handy because I can keep all my mailing lists separate by topic and give out e-mail addresses to other family members (specifically to my mother and brother).
One amazing thing is that when I came back to Earthlink, my old e-mail address was still available so because of that I was able to access a lot of my old accounts which I never thought I would have access to again. Including a couple Yahoo! accounts I had that I didn't have the passwords for anymore. So for me this was great that I could get my old e-mail address as one of my free e-mail accounts.
This is also great because you can use one for friends, one for business and one for mailing lists and keep them very organized. Yes, I have separate folders for everything in OutLook Express also so I am very organized.
Well now we talked about the fact that Earthlink does have disconnects at times like all ISP's why don't we look at the good side of this as well. I usually can connect 49,000 to 50,667 bps which is very good for a dial-up connection.
In my area they also have two numbers so if there are ever problems on one I will try the second before I get concerned about it. Normally this will work and just shows that maybe there are too many people using the first or they are having slight problems.
Now, if you read my reviews you know I did use to have a site in Geocities but not after they merged with Yahoo! but to everyone's surprise I guess I never did start one on Earthlink. But for those that are interested in space they do offer free space for you to make your own non-commercial site (yes I should stress non-commercial site).
Actually I have yet to see an ISP that does not offer this and it seems to have become a normal feature that is added for the customers of any descent ISP. If yours doesn't you might want to take another look at what they do offer and if this is of interest to you look into either free space or an ISP that does offer this. Which won't be too hard because so many do.
Now, I have only actually had to call customer service a couple times.
I called once because no matter what I did I got a message of modem not responding and thought I might have something configured wrong or my modem was dead. When I called I got a very friendly representative and I explained the situation and everything I had configured and then asked so do I have my configurations wrong or is my modem dead. He thought for a second because I did give a lot of information and he said sounds like all your settings are right so most likely it is your modem. Well he was right, I bought a new modem in the morning and everything worked perfectly. What had happened was a power surge had killed the modem. Guess I was lucky that was all that happened.
Another time I called because I just couldn't connect. I called and we went through my settings together and there was one button checked that should not have been and they found it almost instantly and we fixed it and everything was working again.
I have never had to wait for more than 5 minutes for a representative to help me and they have always been able to find the problem right away. In fact I have called a couple times and found out on the initial recording that things were out and would be back soon and then was able to relax and try later.
Now I will admit this right here. I did install their dial-up software and their browser and e-mail but I don't use them. I found that their dialer actually does slow down my computer so if this is a problem your having maybe what I did will help you. All I did was take their settings, username, password and access number and I made a new dial-up networking connection for Earthlink and I use that to connect instead of their dial-up software that they include. Ok, the graphics on theirs are very cute but you can't judge it as good because of that.
I don't use their browser because it was very hard to switch between windows and I usually have several browser windows open at one time so this was not convenient for me at all. Same with the e-mail and newsgroup software they include. I think for new people it is nice to have these all built into one piece but if you have been using other services and are familiar and comfortable with other programs, I really don't recommend using theirs at all. Although, I did try them for about a day.
Yes, I have canceled service with Earthlink a couple of times just to end up going back to them. I should know by now that I will always end up back with Earthlink but I sometimes go a little insane and cancel and then come back.
Canceling service with Earthlink can be a frustrating experience. You have to call them which means that you will be asked why you are leaving and they will try to get you to stay. If you do cancel I recommend doing it a week before your next billing (because you still will be billed for the whole month so don't cancel the next day - I have done that and regretted it as well). I had to wait once for 45 minutes (and I hung up because I couldn't wait anymore). This makes sense because no ISP wants you to cancel but this is a warning that this part of your experience will be irritating.
Since I have always rejoined I thought I would add this that when you do come back you can just re-activate your account over the phone with them and it will be just the way you left it. You will have lost any e-mail that was delivered while you were gone because your mailbox was closed during that time but everything else will be the same.
I closed my account once and rejoined a year later and after re-activating my e-mail account, I started getting mail on that account for services that I had used on it before and I was also able to retrieve old Yahoo! account passwords that I hadn't been able to use for over a year.
Even though I have used other services, I always end up back at Earthlink because of their great service and local dial-up numbers. Even with a few frustrations and outages I would not switch to a new company unless I moved to a location that did not have an Earthlink number (which I can't see would happen since they keep adding more numbers).
If your frustrated with your ISP, give Earthlink a try and see what happens. I know that people will have different experiences than me, and I do realize that some people have had horrible experiences with Earthlink as well. But remember that everyone's experiences will be different and you need to find a service that works well with you (not all will). There is NO perfect service for every person.
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Amount Paid (US$): 21.95/month