When starting a new web site, one task that needs to be accomplished is the set-up of any email accounts that will be needed. This will allow a user to receive email addressed to, for example, [email protected] This looks a lot more professional than using an existing email address with no connection to the new web site. A typical web hosting plan will allow a user to set up a number of different accounts, as well as setting options like email-forwarding or auto-responders for those accounts. Let’s take a look at what needs to be done.
A new email account is normally created using the control panel software that helps a user administer the website. In order to create an email address all that is needed is the name which is to be used, and the password that is to be associated with that email account. Once this is done a new email address is created in the form of [email protected]
The newly-created email account can normally be accessed in two different ways. One method is by using browser software, similar to the way in which a Yahoo or Hotmail email account is accessed. The user would go to a web address where he will be able to log in to his email account by using a username and password. Once logged in the user will be able to read and respond to email messages, and delete or save them as needed. Although this method works well, it has the disadvantage of being slow. Also, unless some care is taken, messages will remain on the server taking up disk space, which counts against the amount of disk space allowed under the web hosting plan.
The other method is by using email software, such as Thunderbird, Outlook or Eudora. There are two things here that the user will need to watch for. In order to receive email using such software, the email must be accessible through what is known as a POP3 server. In order to send email using such software, the user will need to have access to an SMTP server. Although virtually all web hosting plans include access to a POP3 server, there may still be a small number that don’t. Support for SMTP is a lot more uneven – many budget hosting plans don’t offer SMTP support even though they do offer POP3 facilities. There is a work-round for this, but it has the disadvantage of using the SMTP server from an existing email account, for example from an ISP, to send mail. This means that any mail sent will actually appear to come from the ISP email account rather than from the new email account associated with the web site. This not only looks unprofessional but also may be unwelcome for the user, who may not want a personal email account to be associated with his business. If this is the case then the only option will be to use the web-based method of accessing the email account.
Setting up the email software so that it can access the new account is fairly straightforward. What the user will need is the email address, the password, and the names of the POP3 and SMTP servers, which can be obtained through the web hosting company. Once these settings are entered in to the email software then the user will be able to receive and send email using the new email address.
One final task that remains for the new web site owner is to set up a default (main) email address, normally using the address of [email protected] This address, also known as the catch-all address, receives all of the email that is not addressed to an existing email account. These emails could simply have a wrong address, or more commonly they are just spam. The user will be able to choose what happens to these emails. One option is simply to delete them, commonly known as the “blackhole” option. Another option is to bounce them, in other words, to return the email to the sender marked address unknown. This is the preferred choice as not only do any spammers have to deal with all of the returned messages, but also any genuine email message that was badly addressed will be returned, allowing the sender to correct the error.