An email hosting service designed for small to medium sized businesses
With our email hosting plan you get your own email ccounts for receiving email (using either the POP or IMAP protocol), and for sending mail. These services are running under your own domain name, so this means that you will have all the power, features and flexibility you will ever need for professional email management.
What is "POP", "IMAP" and "SMTP"?
Well in a nutshell, these are the Internet services that you need to run professional email with your domain. "POP" and "IMAP" are two options you have for receiving emails. "SMTP" is the service you need to send emails.
Your initial mail account
When we setup your email hosting with your domain name, we provision it with a primary mail account with a user name and a password. By default we also setup a number of aliases attached to the first email account. An "alias" is an email address. So for example "email@example.com" and "firstname.lastname@example.org" are two of the aliases we set up to begin with.
At any time you can add additional password-protected email accounts and aliases - either using your hosting control panel, or, if you prefer, asking us to make the changes for you.
Your own SMTP service
Configuring your email software is pretty easy. You just enter the name of your SMTP server and the user name & password that we provide you.
"SMTP" is short for "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol". With your email hosting plan we create an SMTP service for your domain name. That means you can then configure any email device you have (computers, netbooks, tablets, mobile phones, and even some "webmail"services such as Google Mail) to send email through your own SMTP server.
But why can't I just use my ISP's SMTP server to send email?
Your ISP (your broadband provider) will block you from sending emails with any identity other than the email address they provide you. Please check out our page on email forwarding for full details. So it's only by having your own SMTP service for your domain name that you can count on being able to send emails with your own domain name.
Incoming emails with POP and IMAP
Think of each password-protected email account as a virtual "box" sitting out there on the Internet. An email addressed to, say, "email@example.com" drops into the box - and there it sits waiting for your computers, netbooks, mobile devices etc. to login to the box to read the email. And that's where POP and IMAP come in: POP and IMAP refer to two different ways for your email software to mange your email "box".
- POP (or "POP3" as it is often called) is short for "Post Office Protocol". It's the more traditional method of handling incoming email. The key thing is this: POP3 is a very simple and reliable protocol that is excellent when you use one device to read your emails. In the normal mode of operation, if your email software is running POP, then it's as if your computer reaches out to your mail box out on the Internet, and pulls the message into your computer. Once the message is on your computer, you can read it, sort it, and search for it very quickly and efficiently. That's because these operations are "local" - they don't depend on your Internet connection (which is always much slower than your hard disk). The disadvantage of POP is that if you have another device, perhaps a smart phone, and that device connects by POP to your mail box, it will not see the emails that have been read by the first device as they have been "pulled out of the box"!
- IMAP stands for "Internet Message Access Protocol". The main idea is that it offers a way to synchronise your email box with all the devices that you use to access your email. So let's say you want to access your mail account with a PC at your office, a netbook when you're at home, and a mobile phone when you're out and about. If they are all operating IMAP with your mail server, each device will "see" the same emails. And if, say, you move an email to your trash bin on one device, say on your mobile phone, then that's how you will see it on your office and home computers too. As you can imagine, keeping emails in sync between devices like this is much more complicated, and demands more from your Internet connection, than the simple POP protocol. But with the advent of faster broadband, and especially mobile devices with better and better Internet connectivity, IMAP is becoming more popular.
Anti-spam, anti-virus and email auto-responders
At the point where the email is going to drop into your mail box, your mail service offers three useful features:
- The contents of the email can be scanned for "spam". Your mail server is running the powerful and effective open source "SpamAssassin" email filter (Wikipedia summary here). "SpamAssassin" is a mature, stable, and safe spam filter that does not block "good" emails ("false positives"). You can choose to have SpamAssassin silently delete obvious spam before it even gets into your mail box. Or, if you prefer, the spam email can have a tag added to the email subject line.
- The contents of the email can be scanned for "viruses". Your mail server runs "Clam AV" (Wikipedia summary here). But please note - whilst this provides a great first line of defence for your computers and devices, you should always be sure to run anti-virus software on your computers as well. After all, email is just one way your computers can get infected!
- You can send back an automatic response (an "autoresponder"). For example if you're away on holiday, or unable to get to your emails for any reason, you might configure your autoresponder with a message - e.g. "I'll be away from the office until the 11th. I'll attend to your message when I get back". (Or, if you prefer, "Don't bother me, I'm on holiday"!).