Email address and mailbox, what’s the difference?

You’d be hard-pressed today to find someone who doesn’t have an email address. Despite newer technologies vying for attention in the online workspace, 91% of organisations still use email for client communication, and 61% prefer it over other tools like Slack or Skype1.

But how much do we know about how our email works? Here, we’ll take a look at the difference between an email address and a mailbox.

An electronic mail address, much like a physical address, is a set of directions to a destination. It tells a mail server where to deliver the email’s contents.

Email addresses comprise two elements, a username and a domain. The username is the bit that goes before the @, and the domain is the bit that follows it. If you use the analogy of traditional mail, the domain is the location of your building, and the username is the location of your letterbox.

If you’re using a free email address, like Gmail, you’re sharing the same ‘building’ with millions of other people. That means you all have to use the domain. The only section of the address you can choose for yourself (i.e., your specific mailbox within the building) is the username at the beginning – and only if someone else hasn’t already claimed it!

To have your own ‘building’ – in other words, to use your business’s name for the domain part of the email address – you need to purchase a custom domain name. You can do this through Moreweb – we offer access to a huge range of domain extensions, including, .kiwi and .com. You might also like to check out this Moreweb blog, where we discuss best practices for choosing your business email name and why free addresses aren’t a great look.

An email mailbox, much like a physical mailbox, is a container set up to receive mail that’s been sent to an address.

Because an email mailbox is virtual, you’ll need a piece of software to access the container and view the emails. Usually, that’s a web page or an app such as the one provided by Gmail, or it’s a third-party client like Thunderbird, Apple Mail, or Microsoft Outlook.

It’s important to note that one mailbox can receive emails from multiple addresses. While the username element of your primary email address identifies your mailbox. You can configure more than one email address to point to that mailbox by setting up aliases. For example, you might decide to have as your main email address, for sales enquiries, and for billing correspondence, all going into your mailbox. If you want to get fancy, you can create folders in your mailbox and set up filters that will sort your incoming mail into those folders depending on which address your customer has used.

At Moreweb, we provide a full range of email hosting services. Every domain you purchase from us comes with a free email account that gives you a mailbox and up to 100 address aliases that you can add and remove easily through your Moreweb control panel. You can also purchase additional email accounts for as little as $2.50 per month. To find out more about how we can help you with your email accounts, get in touch!

  1. Email and Document Management Usage Benchmark Report

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