Hosting providers usually offer an domain-related email account. They way these work depends on the host and type of email service they provide. The email interface of domain related email addresses provided by low cost ‘share’ hosting are often very simple and not very well designed.

What follows is a simple description of how most low-cost email accounts work.

Alias email addresses

At the core of this is a mailbox (know as a mail server) for your domain name. Hosts usually offer any number of domain alias accounts associated with your mailbox (mail server):

eg sales@mywebsite.com, info@mywebsite.com, contact@mywebsite.com

Each email address is known as a domain alias and has its own account on the mail server, with its own login address and password. An alias email address looks like a normal email address, but works very differently behind the scenes.

When an email is sent to an alias address, arrives in the main mailbox.  No matter how many alias addresses you have, they all arrive in the domain’s mailbox first. They are then sorted and sent to the correct account on the mail server eg sales@mywebsite.com, info@mywebsite.com, contact@mywebsite.com.

So far so good. If you have a domain alias such as info@mywebsite.com, you can login to your account and see emails that have been sent to you.

You can also send emails from your account too. When you send an email from your account, the email is processes via your main mailbox. The mailbox then sends it to your intended recipient. This is where problems can start. Occasionally, your correspondents may tell you that the message that you have sent has been marked as SPAM. This is principally a problem of the receiving software. They are suspicious of lesser known mail servers and as a precaution, will put them in a SPAM folder.

Real email addresses – eg Gmail

The alternative is a ‘real’ email addresses. These email addresses are gmail, outlook, yahoo, aol etc which operate at a more fundamental level – there is no forwarding involved – the sender or recipient to communicate directly.

The advantage of ‘real’ email addresses is that there is less to go wrong, so emails sent and received from a real address such as me@gmail.com are less likely to go astray. With an ‘alias’ address, there are lots of associated problems which can result in excessive spam, emails finishing up in spam folders or being lost completely. Although we have many ‘alias’ type addresses for our business strands, once contact has been made with a client, we often prefer to use our dedicated gmail address because we know this ‘real’ email addresses is more reliable than our alias addresses.

For that reason, if you have no professional branding reason for choosing an alias type email address (the perception of a domain related ‘alias’ address is that they look more professional/business-like), then we would recommend going with a ‘real’ email address such as gmail. Gmail is fully compatible with mobile phones. However, there are other ‘real’ email address providers such as Outlook, Yahoo, Aol etc.

And of course the other big advantage of ‘real’ email addresses is that they are free.

Keeping your domain hosting and email provider separate

If you run a business where a domain related email address is essential, there are a lot of good reasons why you should keep your email and web hosting separate. For example, if your hosting and email are combined, if you hosting goes down (and it will – no provider can possibly promise 100% up time), your email will go down too – hardly useful having both down if you are trying to run a business. Also, if you ever want to change hosting provider, then having a separate email provider makes the whole process much simpler. The downside is that separating email from hosting means that you will need to invest more in your business, but an investment that is probably well worth the money.

There are a lot of dedicated email providers on the web. You can set up your own account. If you are not technically minded, you may have to ask your web designer to change the DNS settings on your domain name to enable your email to work. Example providers are G Suite/Google Apps, Zoho, Exchange, Office 365, etc.