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Email with no website

web development

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How to get email with no website

Most business users get email through their website server, with their business name - but how can you do this if you have no website?

A business email will have the right name, such as j.smith@ bigcorp.com, and looks much better than j.smith@ hotmail.com. We always advise a business user to arrange a proper email address because it is important for image. There are three basic email set-up choices:

  • A free email service like Hotmail or Gmail
  • A website-based service that works via your website and domain name
  • Email hosting - a domain name plus email only service

Free email services

The free services are good and work well for kids and teens. They also have some business uses such as diverting email through them for spam filtering (Gmail is best for this). However no respectable business user should use a Hotmail address as the resulting image is not good. Gmail is more acceptable but is obviously not optimal. There is also the security aspect as some types of email cannot be routed through a third party in this way. It is logical to assume that such traffic is scanned, for various security reasons, and also in order that suitable adverts can be delivered that match the email content. Therefore, essentially, the content is not private.

Website-based email

Most business email comes along with a domain name, through the web host's facility. If you have a website at example.com then your email comes, through the webhost, to j.smith@ example.com. Website hosting normally allows 50 email addresses even for basic accounts.

Note that your email, if you have a website, comes through the website and web host - not via the domain name in some way, or through the domain registrar. As soon as a website is set up on a domain name, all transactions pass to the webhost, because the Internet is then pointed at the webhost not the registrar (because the nameservers are then pointed at the hosts).

What is email hosting ?

However, if you don't have a website, you can still get email through your domain name, which has the advantage of the correct business name. This is called email hosting since you need a facility hosted, but it's only for email. Here's how domain name email works:

    First, you must select a domain name registrar with good facilities
    Buy your preferred domain name
    Set up and pay for an email hosting account, in the registrar's control panel
    Finally you will set up your email client correctly, on your computer, to receive it


We recommend that you find the best domain name registrar that you possibly can, as this is critical to good domain management. The cost may be one or two dollars a year higher per domain, but the advantages are well worth it. More importantly, the disadvantages of poor or unethical domain registrars are serious. Two of the largest domain registrars have been caught out employing extremely unethical practices that included obstruction and that almost verged on blackmail. In addition you should never allow a webhost to hold domains as this causes endless problems. Find a good domain registrar with a spotless reputation, and pay the extra dollar a year.

Ask who our recommended Domain Registrar is.

How to choose a domain name

For the various pros and cons to domain name choices, see the menu link button on the right:
What is a domain?

Set up the email account at the registrar
The first step is to set up the email facility with the domain registrar. Note: we are assuming here that you don't have a website - if you do, you should not follow this procedure, but set up your email at the web host. When you have a website, the email moves to the host.

So, here, we have a domain name, but no website, and will set up the email at the registrar. The following is a general process that describes the procedure in outline, at a typical domain registrar. The steps will need to be modified in order to work correctly at your own registrar.

Having bought your domain, next you need to buy an Email Hosting Only package. This can be about $20 per year. There is a big variation in facilities on offer, some registrars only offer a single email address, others give ten. You should get 10 email accounts if you are paying over $10 a year, as just one address is poor value for money. For example on a £5 / $8 a year standard web hosting account you will get 25 emails (see lower down).

Go to the domain registrar's secure login page, making sure to have https:// in the address bar, not http:// . You should see the address bar turn sand colour or a padlock icon show up there. We always use the secure channel when working with domains. Then:

    Select the domain name you want to work with from the list of domains in your account. Hit the Edit Selected button.
    Select the POP3* Email Setup button, on the Email Management menu.
    Enter your preferred email address, eg info@ or j.smith@ the domain. Your email address will therefore be of the form j.smith@ example.com.
    Enter a password.
    Note the server hostname eg mail.example.com.
    Note the webmail URL (the page you go to to check email online, when travelling).
    Logout.

*Email is either POP3 or IMAP. The POP3 type is the normal one, and allows you to download email to your desktop client, e.g. Thunderbird or MacMail. IMAP email is webmail, meaning that you browse to the server and check the mail there, e.g. Hotmail-style. Normally, we choose POP3 (which variously means Post Office Protocol or Point of Presence protocol) - and this allows both methods to be used if desired.

Here are those steps in screenshots. This shows the procedure in the control panel of a domain registrar with extended facilities.

[images in process of being moved from previous location] 
Select the email domain        Choose edit domain

Select the domain chosen for email          Then move to the next step - edit domain

                           [click on images to see them full size]

Choose POP3 email setup                  Choose email hosting

Choose, setup POP3 email                        Choose the email hosting option

 

If the domain is transferred in
If the domain was originally at another registrar, and then transferred to the current registrar in order to take advantage of a better email package, then there is another intermediate step: you must transfer the DNS to the new registrar.

To do this, the nameservers must be changed to the current registrars' nameservers. You can normally do this by selecting a menu link such as "Transfer the DNS to us", on a main menu, after selecting the domain concerned.

How to set up an email client

Webmail, POP3 email, and email client set-up will be covered in other tutorials. However, here are some brief notes:

1. To set up an email client you need to enter the 'host' or 'server hostname'. Here are the choices.

Incoming (= POP3)
www.example.com
mail.example.com
pop3.example.com
in.example.com

We recommend you do not use IMAP for incoming mail, even if this is the default setting. This is because it generally results in all emails being lost if there is a glitch on your computer, and this is generally somewhere between a severe inconvenience and a disaster. After hearing several tales of such crises, all due to the use of the IMAP setting (which does not by default save emails), we cannot recommend it. Set your email to POP3, filter the emails into folders, then save them to a separate backup.

Outgoing (= SMTP)
www.example.com
mail.example.com
smtp.example.com
out.example.com

2. Sometimes (due to local PC / Mac issues and not the server), you may need to enter the IP address instead of the server host name as above. Your email provider will give you the correct IP to use.

How to get website email

In the above example we looked at how to get email directly from the domain registrar, if you don't have a website / web hosting account. The cost was seen to be about $15 - $20 a year.

However, you can get a cheap website hosting account and get a slightly better deal. If, for instance, you sign up with a £5 / $8 a year webhost, then you not only get email but also webspace. Obviously, at this price, you're not going to be able to host a giant CMS with 10,000 visits a day. You might get around 250MB of webspace and 3GB of monthly traffic, though, which is just fine for a small site that isn't too busy. Of course, this means you can also just put up your own plain single web page as a holding page or placeholder, and with your name and email. This you should do.

On balance we prefer this method, assuming you can find a reliable host at £5 a year or so.

Ask us who we recommend for email and web hosting.

How to choose an email address

There are several preferred formats although you can just pick whatever you want. We do not advise the use of uppercase letters in email addresses. If your domain name is example.com, then you can choose for instance:

Informal
john@ example.com
bigjohn@ example.com

Formal
j.smith@ example.com
john.s@ example.com
js@ example.com
enquiries@ example.com
sales@ example.com
info@ example.com

[we have to leave a gap in the address, here, otherwise a link is created]

Pitfalls

One fail we see quite a lot is a person setting up their email using the default settings on the client. This frequently means the account is set up as IMAP even when a domain-based email account is being used - POP3 should be used for better security. At some later point in time, there is a PC problem or other glitch; somehow all the emails have disappeared. Hysteria follows as many vital messages have disappeared into thin air. This is called the 'disappearing IMAP emails disaster' and is often heard about when people are badly advised. There are multiple fixes for this but the simplest is just to dowwnload and save the emails in the first place, and this requires POP3 settings throughout in order to be absolutely sure you have got them saved on your device.

Don't use default email client settings - IMAP - unless you really know what you are doing.


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