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Email: "Real" Accounts Vs. Aliases

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Email has become a required communication medium for all businesses. It provides efficient, instant communication to anyone, anywhere around the world. When was the last time you visited a website that didn’t provide a contact email address? Or the last time you received a business card without an email address?

Email is an easy concept to understand, how it works, how to use it, but almost daily we explain to clients and prospects the difference between (real) email accounts and alias email accounts (aliases). Hence the purpose of this document: to explain in layman terms the differences between these two types of email accounts and how they work.

"Real" Accounts

"Real" email accounts are simply a location where email messages sent to you are held until you retrieve them. When you connect to the Internet (dial-up, cable, DSL, etc.) and open your email client (Outlook, Eudora, Pegasus, etc.), it will log into your email account on your provider’s email server and download your messages. If you send and receive email messages you have an account on a mail server, somewhere, that will hold (or store) your email messages until you retrieve them. This is the most common form of email address and usually what people refer to when they talk about email addresses.

Some benefits of "real" accounts:

  • Configure your account to store your messages on your provider’s email server, which gives you easy access to your messages from any computer with an Internet connection.
  • Forward messages to one or more email accounts.
  • Set up auto-responder messages to notify contacts when you are going on vacation.

Aliases

An alias email looks just like a "real" email account but is completely different behind the scenes. These accounts are typically used for non-person specific addresses such as support@, info@, sale@ and so on. These accounts do not have a storage area on an email server; rather, they immediately forward all messages they receive to one or more "real" email accounts.

Some benefits of alias accounts:

  • Messages sent to an alias can be rerouted to multiple recipients, e.g., each member of the sales department can receive a copy of all sales@ inquiries.
  • The ability to maintain several email accounts, each with their own purpose, without needing to check those email accounts individually; simply maintain a single "real" account which receives all messages sent to your alias accounts.
  • Preserve "Contact Consistency" - personnel changes within your organization will not require your clients to update their address books; as long as your email alias’ configuration is kept current, your clients’ messages will always be routed to the appropriate people.

In Summary

"Real" email accounts are typically used when you want the sender or recipient to communicate with you directly. Aliases are useful when you want the sender’s message to be routed to one or more recipients without requiring the sender to know each recipient’s "real" email address.

Hopefully this will clarify the differences between "real" and alias email accounts. If you have specific questions please feel free to call or email us, we are happy to provide advice!

If you have other questions about how the web works, feel free to contact DASH Systems. Stay tuned to this section of our web site for other useful information.