Last updated: July 9, 2020
What Is Email Forwarding?
Email forwarding is the act of re-sending email received by one address to another address. In web hosting, it refers to the automation of this resending according to rules set up by the hosting administrator.
If you have a domain name for your business (which you should), you will want to set up email addresses using that domain name.
You could use these email addresses by checking mail from the hosting plan’s mail server if you want to — either through the host’s webmail client or by setting up your own local client such as Outlook. A
different option would be to outsource your email operation to another subscription-based email server, such as Google Apps.
Finally, sometimes the simplest solution is just to use email forwarding. Email forwarding might be used for several different reasons.
Reasons to Use Server-Based Email Forwarding
Collect Several Addresses Into One Account
If you run a lot of different projects on different domain names, it might not make sense to actually use a different email address for each domain name. But it might still be desirable to have a public-facing email address for each of them.
You could just have all of the emails to any of your pseudonyms forward on to your primary email address. This could be an address one of your own domains, or it could be a personal email account at a well-respected personal email service.
(Note: It seems that currently, @gmail.com is the only acceptable address type for this kind of use. And it only really makes sense if the disparate business all relate back to you and your own skills and personality. This works well for writers, consultants, and freelancers. It works less well for more “corporate” or institutional endeavors.)
If you are using Gmail (and a few other commercial webmail services), you can set up your own email account to send mail as another address.
If you’re going to go that far though, you might as well just set the service up to act as a full-scale mail client.
Role-Based or Function-Based Email Addresses
You can make your one-person organization seem a little larger if you have all these “departmental” email addresses, but manage everything by having those emails forward straight on to your primary account.
The other benefit to having them set up as forwarders is that you can add people to them easily. As your organization grows or changes, you can simply add addresses to the forwarding list, or remove them as you need to.
IF you want to have these role-based emails, it is much better to have them set up this way rather than having them set up as individual accounts that have to be checked on their own.
The people doing those jobs might do several jobs, and you don’t want them to have to individually check multiple emails addresses.
You also want to be able to quickly start or stop email forwarding to a particular address, in the case that there are ever any problems.
Someone who used to be a part of your organization, but isn’t any longer, would have had an email address when they were employed with you. Other people might have gotten that email address and might still be sending messages to it.
It’s a good idea, whenever an email address is decommissioned, to have the old email address set up to forward all messages to the person or people who will be taking over that user’s duties.
The Problem With Using Email Forwarding
There are two problems with using forwarding as your way of handling branded-domain email.
The first problem is that it might not get to you. If you are using the mail server on a shared hosting account to forward your business email on to your personal email address, it is possible that your email will get flagged as spam and never reach your inbox. You might not even know it has happened.
Depending on your mail service provider, you may be able to fix this problem by white-listing your hosting account’s IP address or your branded email address.
The other problems come in the common practice of using a “send mail as” feature to respond to email.
If you are spoofing the email address you are sending from (rather than connecting back to the server to send mail from there), this can be understood by some spam filters as bad behavior.
Depending on the content of your message, and other factors, this could lead to your outgoing messages being flagged.
What is spoofing?
In technical terms, spoofing is the practice of masking the source of a communication, so the recipient thinks it is coming from a known, trusted source. Because this is typically a practice used with malicious intent, to obtain personal information or spread malware, email spam filters are sensitive to “send mail as” features. If you are using this type of email forwarding feature, even if your intentions are good, your emails could be flagged or blocked as spam.
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Using Email Forwarding
Most web hosting companies offer mail forwarding management from the hosting control panel. It is usually very easy to set up.