Email Hosting Unravelled
Some Business Email Fundamentals
Use Your Business Domain Name
The public email address on your website and business documents is usually best as an email address which ends with your website name (eg firstname.lastname@example.org).
- This email address belongs to the business, unlike Gmail, Bigpond and other cheap/free email accounts which never actually belong to you and can be removed by the operator (or disappear, if the operator goes out of business).
- If your business is sold, the public email contact address, which customers are familiar with, will still be valid.
- Your email address is a constant reminder to customers of your website address.
Before the @
Unless you 'are' the business, you will probably use a general name like info@ for general enquiries, not email@example.com.
Joe might leave the enterprise, or change jobs within it and no longer be the frontdesk contact.
You don't want customers' enquiries heading to a little-used or closed email account.
Personal vs Business
We recommend that you do not use your business email address for personal emails. Why?
- you don't want to have to change your personal email address, and
- you don't want the new owners collecting your private emails or reading earlier ones ('Hi Grannie, I just sold my business to some idiot...').
In particular, do not use a .com.au email address for personal email:
.com.au domain names can only be registered/renewed under certain conditions, which include operating a business which is relevant to the name.
By changing your business focus, even if you don't sell up, you could lose the right to retain that domain name and thus lose your personal email address.
Email Hosting or Not?
Some webhosting providers do NOT host 'yourdomain' email addresses. They expect you to use free/generic email like Gmail, Hotmail.
Don't be caught by surprise. Ask the right questions before you sign up for webhosting.
Be wary of very cheap hosting deals. They may not include own-domain email hosting; email hosting is a big commitment for a webhosting service. Email uses plenty of server resources and it's timeconsuming to support.
Manage Your Business Email
Watch out for email accounts belonging to (or forwarding to the accounts of) staff who have left or are away.
Be particularly careful with basic contact addresses like info@, sales@, enquiries@: who normally receives them? What happens when that person is sick or or on leave?
SuttonNet can set up permanent or temporary redirection of email accounts for you. This is part of our managed hosting service: no extra charge.
Forwarding and aliasing are set up on our servers via the Plesk control panel.
If you don't have access to your email settings in Plesk, contact SuttonNet and we will
set up email forwarding or aliasing for you.
Forwarding emails to another email account can be useful, eg:
- when you want to temporarily send emails to another account, while a staff member is away
- if you prefer to receive all emails at an email address that you already have set up on your computer.
A forwarded email should be identifiable in your email inbox by the 'sent to' address shown on the email.
Warning: you may not be able to send emails addressed from the forwarding address.
You can forward email to any email account.
The original email account can be set either to also collect emails while forwarding is switched on, or not to collect any emails.
If you always forward emails to another account, disable the forwarding account's mailbox.
An alias is another option for managing emails.
With aliasing, there is only one email account but it has several names: eg
- firstname.lastname@example.org an alias of email@example.com
- firstname.lastname@example.org an alias of email@example.com.
Aliases can only be set up within the same domain (ie the address is exactly the same after the @ sign).
Email Hosting ABC's
SuttonNet's server accommodates all the email accounts which are directly associated with your domain name: eg firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do not host email accounts that have an ending different from your own domain name.
You may come across references to mail servers.
An incoming mail server holds email accounts, and receives the emails sent to all the email addresses which are on the server.
An outgoing mail server sends emails from your computer towards the right mail server to receive them. (It doesn't send emails directly to that mail server; they might go through many connecting computers around the world, before arriving at the right address.)
The mail server used by all your '@yourwebsite.com.au' email accounts, is on SuttonNet's webservers.
Email Account & Mailbox
Remember that SuttonNet's mail servers only contain email accounts directly associated with the domain names that we host: eg email@example.com but not firstname.lastname@example.org.
An email account is a set of folders on a mailserver in a particular account name (eg email@example.com on the SuttonNet server) which can hold various files (= emails).
A mailbox in email parlance is rather like a letterbox, but it collects emails instead of paper mail.
A mailbox has to stay connected to the Internet, or else emails would have nowhere to go. Hence your mailbox is not located on your computer, but on servers which are connected to the Internet with very nearly 100% uptime.
I imagine an email account as somewhat like a butler, and somewhat like a postman. Depending on your email settings (instructions to the butler/post office), the account may:
- let a particular email in, and send it to the mailbox on the server
- refuse it admittance altogether
- allow it in to the account's mailbox, but send a copy elsewhere (forward a copy to a different email account), or
- if this mailbox is set to 'disabled' ('The Master is not at home'), forward all email to a different email account, and never allow any emails into this account's mailbox.
You view and/or download emails from the mailbox onto your own computer or your phone, using your email software (Thunderbird, Outlook Express etc).
Manage Your Mailbox(es)
For SuttonNet Clients
SuttonNet servers are customised for maximal website performance, not as backup or storage units
for clients' emails. Our clients usually use POP3 email protocol, and keep email storage on our servers to a minimum. This maximises storage space for websites. It also means that confidential data in emails is retained fully within each client's business and under the client's control: not stored indefinitely on a giant server in some unknown location.
To make room in your mailboxes for new emails, your email software needs to regularly delete all emails from the mailbox after you have downloaded them. Deletion is usually done automatically via a setting in your email software. But occasionally you might have to empty a mailbox manually.
Just because you have seen email in your inbox, do NOT assume that it has been deleted from the mailbox.
If a mailbox is full, it can't receive new emails.
Worse, the server can't send you an email to warn you, because your mailbox is full. So you won't know that you are missing incoming emails, until that crucial one you're waiting for doesn't arrive.
Just like with paper mail, a few large items can fill your mailbox quickly.
'Large' in email terms often means attached photos, especially photos which are high quality and/or not compressed. Take extra care to empty your mailbox (ie download your email) often, if you expect emails with large attachments. Or you can request a larger mailbox.
Your own computer/phone uses a software package for downloading emails from their mailboxes on the server (whether it's SuttonNet's server, or a huge mail server with Bigpond or Google).
Many email packages now have a default delay setting that ensures that mailboxes do not immediately delete all emails after they have been downloaded.
This very useful setting allows people to receive and deal with emails over several days on different computers and by phone: eg you can read an email first on your work desktop computer, and reply later via your tablet.
But there is a hitch.
The delay may be set to 5, 10, 14 days etc, or even 'never delete
emails from mail server'. The longer time settings can cause problems
with mailboxes overflowing. You may need to reset to a shorter timespan.
Email Settings Can Cause Trouble
Some email protocols, eg IMAP, are notorious for poor default settings when it comes to deleting emails from mailboxes.
'Never delete from mail server' might be fine if you have email accounts of 'unlimited' size on huge servers, and if those servers don't also host websites that need to respond fast. I have my doubts about it as a long term strategy, though: even digital storage is finite in this world.
- works well for the amount of email you receive
- won't mean that you lose all your emails if you are on holidays or off sick. Allow for extra-long weekends such as Easter; you probably won't arrange for others to collect your emails over that time. You don't want to lose all your recent emails because of a public holiday.
If you don't reset this delay: don't be surprised if you miss out on important emails.