E-mail

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This article discusses Email in general terms. For cPanel email options, see cPanel.

Electronic mail (commonly email or e-mail) allows sending and receiving messages over the internet. The term "email" is used both as a noun and a verb - you can "send an email" to somebody, or you can "email a message" to somebody. Email is often used to deliver bulk unwanted messages (unsolicited commercial email (UCE), or "spam"), but filter programs exist which can automatically delete most of these.

Email address

An email address is a string of the form jsmith@example.com that identifies a location to which email messages can be delivered. The part before the @ sign is the local-part of the address (often the username of the recipient) and the part after the @ sign is the domain name.

The local-part of an email address has an official maximum of 64 characters, consisting of these characters:

  • Uppercase and lowercase letters
  • The digits 0 through 9
  • The hyphen ( - ) and underscore ( _ ) characters
  • The dot character ( . ) provided it is not the first or last character

Some mail servers will also accept these characters, but their use is not recommended:

  • Not recommended characters ! # $ % & ' * + / = ? ^ ` { | } ~


An email address is no use by itself unless the mail server on the domain (the part after the @ sign) knows what to do with it. This is achieved by setting up one or more email account, email forwarder, auto-responder or default address. These concepts are explained below.

Email account / mailbox

For more information see Email accounts (cPanel)

An email account (or "mailbox") for a specific email address can be set up on the server for storing received emails. Users can then view the emails in the mailbox by using an email client program, or with webmail.

There are several ways of connecting to the mailbox; the most common being POP (Post Office Protocol) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). In general terms,

  • Using POP, messages are (by default) removed from the server after being downloaded to the user's computer. The user can then organise their messages by creating local folders in their email program (client). The main advantage in using POP is that you don't need to be permanently connected to the internet. You can download your messages, then read and organise them while offline.
  • When using IMAP, email messages always remain on the server. The user can still create folders for organising their messages, but the folders themselves are created on the server. The main advantage in using IMAP is that the user can more easily access their email from multiple computers, and what they see on each computer is the same. If using POP, the user would need to create folders on each computer, and they would not be synchronized in any way.

POP and IMAP are protocols for receiving email. The most common protocol for sending email is SMTP.

Alias / Forwarder

For more information see Forwarders (cPanel)

Email forwarding is a facility whereby an email sent to one address is then forwarded (re-sent) on to another email address (without the sender knowing, or needing to know).

For example, the email address manager@yourdomain.com may be forwarded by the mail server to the email address: jsmith@littlepuddle.net who would receive it almost as if it were sent direct to him. Then, as the position of manager changed, the forwarder could be changed so that the email would forward to kjones@webplace.com or psherman@wallaby.nsw.au. Thus using email forwarding, any email to manager@yourdomain.com would always go to the current occupant of the position.

Email forwarders are very versatile. You can set up forwarders so that email sent to one of several addresses can be forwarded to a single email address, or email sent to one address can be forwarded to multiple addresses, returned to the sender (bounced), piped to a script or program for further processing, or just deleted.

Domain forwarder

For more information see Forwarders (cPanel)

In addition to forwarding individual email accounts, you can forward all email from one domain to the same address on another. For example setting up a domain forwarder from mydomain.com to myotherdomain.com.au means that any email sent to steve@mydomain.com will also be forwarded to steve@myotherdomain.com.au

Note that forwarding a domain's email will override the default address for that domain.

Auto-responder

For more information see Auto responders (cPanel)

An auto-responder is a computer program that automatically answers email sent to it. They are often used by support systems (eg MediaCloud support tickets) to immediately provide acknowledgment or information to the sender and then follow up with them at a later time. Auto-responders are also incorporated into electronic mailing list software, to confirm subscriptions, unsubscriptions, posts, and other list activities.

Auto-responder can be used if you go on an extended holiday, so that anyone sending you email can be automatically advised that you are currently unavailable. The email sent to you will still be delivered to your email account, so you can view it when you return.

If the email address for the auto-responder does not have an associated email account or forwarder, the email will be discarded after the auto-response is sent.

Default address (catch-all)

For more information see Default address (cPanel)

The default email address will "catch" any mail that is sent to an invalid email address for your domain. All mail that is sent to an address that doesn't exist will go to the default email address. Due to the amount of spam being sent to random email addresses, it is recommended that the default address be set to :fail:. This means that email to to a non-existent address will be discarded.

Filters

For more information see Mail filters (cPanel) and SpamAssassin

Email filters allow you to automatically perform different actions on emails received, based on who sent them, where they were sent to, and what they contain. Some of the possible actions are: discard, redirect, move to a folder or pipe to a program. For example, you could create a filter that automatically discards any email received from myoldgirlfriend@blackstump.com

Webmail

For more information see Webmail (cPanel)

Webmail allows you to access your email account from anywhere, as long as you have a PC connected to the internet and a web browser. You will not need to install any software on your computer to use webmail.

Access to webmail is usually from this address: http://www.yourdomain.com/webmail or http://www.yourdomain.com:2095

Email clients

An email client is a computer program used to send, receive and manage email. The most well known email client is probably Outlook Express, which was bundled with Windows.

See also

External links