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Email Alias (Forwarder) vs. Email Account (Mailbox)

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For each hosted domain name (e.g., www.HostedDomainName.com) you own or control, there are two varieties of email addresses you may create: the email account (mailbox) and the email alias (forwarder).

Main Point of Contrast: Alias vs. Mailbox

An alias is a "fake"; when an alias is created, no mailbox is created - only a forwarder which passes email along to an email account (mailbox) you already have.

An email account (mailbox) has nothing to do with any email accounts or mailboxes that you may already have. There are no prerequisites.

An email alias has everything to do with a mailbox that you already have; all email sent to the alias will be forwarded to the mailbox you already have. One cannot have an alias without a functioning email account (mailbox).

Basically, if you want the people in your organization to have email mailboxes, then this is a job for your network administrator or other onsite person with sufficient technical skills. Why? Email accounts (mailboxes) require onsite implementation and maintenance; every user must have email client software, which must be kept current and must be configured properly. This is usually a job best performed by onsite personnel.

Always Use Standard Naming Conventions

Regardless of whether you decide to use mailboxes or aliases, you will need to decide upon a standard naming convention for all new email addresses. Popular choices include using first names only, first names with last name initial, last names with first name initial, and first name plus last name. Personally, I recommend using full names (first and last names) unless the organization is so small there is no chance of duplicate names. In the event two people share the same first and last name, then a middle initial can be used, or perhaps either their given names or their primary nicknames are different, and that different name can be used instead of a middle initial.

Email Account (A Fully-Functioning Mailbox)

An email account (mailbox) has nothing to do with any email accounts or mailboxes that you already have.

By mailbox, we are referring to a fully-functioning email account. Almost everyone already has a mailbox these days -- either through their home ISP (Internet Service Provider), such as Comcast or Bellsouth, or through one of the popular webmail sites, such as Gmail (Google's webmail), Yahoo, and Hotmail.

Pros of Email Accounts

Cons of Email Accounts (Mailboxes)

Steps Involved: Creating a New Email Mailbox

The steps to be performed for each email user are as follows:

Email Alias (Forwarder)

An email alias is NOT a mailbox -- it is only a forwarder. It forwards everything to an account you already have.

An email alias has everything to do with an email account or mailbox that you already have; all email sent to the alias will be forwarded to the mailbox you already have.

The easiest way to describe an alias is to say that it automatically forwards e-mail to another existing e-mail account. For example, an alias called [email protected] could be created and forwarded to [email protected] -- or to any other email address that already exists. Aliases are very convenient, and there is no limitation on where you can have the e-mail forwarded to. This is handy for those of you who only want to deal with one e-mail account, but would like different e-mail addresses.

An email alias is a simple redirection of all email sent to it. All email addressed to the new alias ([email protected]) will be automatically forwarded to a different email address that already exists ([email protected]). In other words, it allows email addresses to be redirected before they are processed by a mail server.

Another example: an email alias involves forwarding all email sent to a new email address (e.g., [email protected]) to an existing email address (e.g., [email protected]).

Again, an email alias is NOT a mailbox -- it is only a forwarder.

Pros of Using Email Aliases

Cons of Using Email Aliases

Steps Involved: Creating a New Email Alias

The steps to be performed for each email user are as follows:

More Basic Information About Email

By mailbox, we are referring to a fully-functioning email account. Almost everyone already has a mailbox these days -- either through their home ISP (Internet Service Provider), such as Comcast or Bellsouth, or through one of the popular webmail sites, such as Gmail (Google's webmail), Yahoo, and Hotmail.

In any case, if you have a mailbox, then you have a physical email storage folder that resides on a mail server somewhere out there in cyberspace. The physical location of your mail server rarely matters these days, as long as it is secure and reliable. The mail server has the right software and utilities installed on in that allow processing for viruses and spam. The mail server processing is basically invisible to most users. It happens on the servers designated and controlled by the ISP (Comcast, Bellsouth) or the webmail organization (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail).

The client, using an email program on their end -- the client end -- such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc., connects to the mail server and requests the email. If the username and password are correct, the email is released and is sent to the user’s computer.

If you subscribe to the services of an ISP (Comcast, Bellsouth), then the email account you have with them is a full-fledged (probably POP3) email account, and it probably allows you to create as many aliases as you want (although most people don't use this feature).

Other Resources

If our explanation still does not make sense, then perhaps someone else has described it in a way that seems more logical to you. Here are a few other sites that describe the differences between fully-functional email accounts (mailboxes) and email aliases: