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22 comments on “What’s the Difference Between an Email Domain, an Email Account, and an Email Address?”

  1. What are your thoughts on having different addresses for each contact so that one may track who is passing along contact info to third parties?

    • You can certainly do that, but it’s often a lot of effort. Not sure it it’s worth it. Even when you narrow it down to one contact – it may not be that one contact at all, but something about his or her email provider, the path to that email provider or something else. It’s difficult (and inadvisable) to point fingers. On the other hand, it’s fairly common when signing up for mailing lists, or leaving comments on web sites that require an email address to use a specific email address to see if THEY end up spamming you. People use Ask Leo! – specific email addresses when leaving comments all the time. (And, no, I don’t spam ’em πŸ™‚ ).

      • I am a fan of “one account, one email address”, on top of the obvious “one account, one password”. I do this through alias providers such as Spamex, 33 Mail or Anon Addy (all are good, for different reasons).

        It can be slightly inconvenient when you need to reply anonymously to email received, or even initiate a conversation from one alias (different providers have different policies on that matter). But it’s invaluable to switch off an offending address, when some business won’t respond to unsubscribe requests. And of course, to fight downright spam.

        I only use this when talking with machines, or anonymous businesses, though (think e-commerce). Obviously, when dealing with actual persons you know, or have a personal rapport with (business partners, friends…), you’d want to use an email address bearing your name.

        Oh, and great tutorial, by the way. Splendid metaphor of an office building.

        • That would be an extra layer of security but with a few hundred accounts requiring passwords, you’d need hundreds of email accounts and you’d have to check your emails for those accounts at least once every 3 months or more often to keep those email accounts alive or you risk not having a recovery email address for those main accounts. Although, your idea might be useful for a few of your most important accounts like your bank, Facebook etc.

  2. One thing I’ve wondered about is replacing @ with <at> to show an email address on a web site. Aren’t spammers aware of this to the point of converting that in their harvesting bots? I’ve usually avoided <at> and used <the at sign>

        • It’s an invitation to spammers to include an email address in a public forum. Some forums may specifically disallow the @ sign for that reason.

  3. I find it really annoying that people who used to check their email regularly, now leave large intervals between accessing their messages. This seems to be a social media thing where they’re all busy putting up their lunch pictures etc. etc. up for ‘everyone’ to see. Unfortunately this behaviour seems to be spilling over to the less conscientious in their work activities and they seem to be treating digital mail with contempt in some cases. Guess it’s back to paper mail and ‘snail’ delivery – not that that always gets the attention it deserves.

    • I don’t know if you are referring to work emails or personal emails. If it’s work emails, then there’s no excuse for ignoring your work, but if it’s personal email, I’ve noticed a trend that many younger people prefer to use messaging programs like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp or even SMS text messages. They see email more as a work tool.

      I haven’t emailed my children in years. I communicate via Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. From my experience, the result is similar, just new means of communication.

  4. This is all still very confusing. I stumbled here searching for the answer to this question:
    Can I have the same email address from a different provider? I own a domain, and have a website. I don’t like my email provider, I want to switch but I want all my employees to still have the same email address. Is that possible?

  5. What about emails that use a different suffix, like .com or .net? Are these interchangeable? My email address is .net from Earthlink.net. But I recently found that I could use the same address with Earthlink.com. Why is that?

    • .com and .net are not interchangeable in email addresses. If they are interchangeable on Earthlink, it is because Earthlink specifically registered both top level domains (.com and .net) with your email account. I have a {myname}.gmx.de email account which is also addressable as {myname}.gmx.net.

  6. 2 weeks ago, I made transactions to pay the bill to my supplier. The supplier sent me an invoice via email with a wrong name of my company and so, I told him to update the invoice again.
    Within 24 hrs, the invoice was updated to me by email which I thought was sent by him because that email was sent in the same thread that we used to use with my supplier. The invoice looks exactly the same with the first except the bank account mentioned inside them are different. However, I didn’t notice that and transfered the money to the account of the fraudster.
    Only when I checked with my supplier after a week of my transfer, I realized I was cheated by a fraudster. When I check the emails, I find out that the email used by the fraudster is a completely different email address than my supplier’s email address. It has never been involved in the whole thread until the fake invoice was sent. But my supplier said that that email address was very much similar to email address of his daughter except his daughter ‘s email contain an extra zero in it.
    My question is that :
    How the fraudster ‘s fake email appeared in the same thread where me & my supplier exchanged emails from the start. Is it even possible ?

    Let’s say the fraudster hacked into our emails.
    Where might be the attack possibly coming from ? Coming from my email or my supplier ‘s?
    In other words, Who attracted him in the first place? Me or my supplier?

    I hope you can share your idea regarding these.

    Many thanks.

    • Unfortunately there’s no way to know where in the email path your emails might be getting spied upon, if indeed that happened. I would make sure every step of the process I had control over was secure. (Email account password & recovery information, the security of the PCs and network equipment over which the message travels, and so on.)

  7. Hey Leo!
    Few years ago i made instagram profile and i was almost certain i connected it to my facebook, unfortunately i have deleted my facebook so tought my Instagram will be deleted too. So yesterday i wanted to check if it really is deleted and since i dont remember password i went to forget my password. The mail that was listed below as my mail was very odd looking. I was sure i made my instagram profile on gmail.com but i got a msg my account was connected to e*****. com. What kind of domain is that and how is it possible? I am really confused.

    • The asterisks are just placeholders for the real characters which are not shown for security purposes. So the domain is simply one that starts with ‘e’ and ends in ‘.com’. If that’s not something you recognize then you likely will be unable to regain access to the Instagram account.

  8. Hi Leo, thanks for the article. I found it really helpful especially the metaphor at the end. You referred to the mail server doing various jobs (like redirecting, filtering spam, putting Leo/Leonard/CTO in the same mail box). Does that mean each email provider has their own mail.server?
    The reason I ask is due to Barbara’s question about changing email provider as she has her own business domain, a web site and emails ending (say @xxx.com). If she changed email provider then using your analogy, then the hard-working mail team might be a team of contractors handling all her mail and then if she changes to a different provider then that would be equivalent to the old team being fired and new team of contractors put in their place. So same address, same building, same mail boy delivering it to your desk but a new mail room team. Would that be correct?

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