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What Is an Email Alias?

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  • Written By: Vanessa Harvey
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 July 2014
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An email alias is simply an electronic mail address that is created and used for email address forwarding. It is not an actual user account, nor does it correspond to a user account on a mail server. It is just a name that must be in the format of an email address, which is composed of a name and the "at" symbol, followed by a domain name. The word "alias" means an assumed name and denotes a name or names under which a person or entity is also known. Some people think of an email alias as a virtual email address because, except for the fact that it does not correspond to an actual user account, it behaves in every other way like a real email address.

There are many good reasons for creating an email alias, and there are different ways of doing this. Some real email addresses are quite lengthy and can be difficult to remember. This is especially true in the case of an address provided by an employer because one typical format for email addresses is the employee's first name followed by a period, followed by his or her last name, the "at" symbol and the company's domain name. If a person has a long name or one that is not easy to remember or spell, he or she might be able to use an email alias that is much easier to remember and shorter in character length than the actual account.

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Another reason for which a person might want to create an alias is to provide a generic email address that is made public. This is a common practice of many webmasters who often provide visitors to the websites for which they are responsible with a way to contact them via email. Some companies also opt to use an email alias to which website visitors can send general questions or requests for general information. For example, the webmaster of a site might set up an email alias of "webmaster@," followed by the domain name, and general inquiries might be sent to "info@," followed by the domain name.

One popular way of creating an alias is to go through the control panel, if one is offered, of the host company of the website. There generally is an email option allowing for the creation of actual user accounts as well as the email alias from which mail is forwarded. When an email alias is created, a specific action such as forwarding must be associated with it, because it is not a real standalone account that can "hold" mail on the mail server. An alias comes in handy for several reasons: it can have multiple recipients, it can help to protect or hide the actual user account, it does not take up the space on the mail server like an actual user account does, and it can be deleted without losing any mail that has already been forwarded to a real address.

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