Email account

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An e-mail account or e-mail inbox , often also in English. E-mail account has about the same function for e-mail as the mailbox at a postal company in the context of traditional letter post: It stores incoming messages until the customer reads them or picks them up.

E-mails are sent via a global network of mail servers that are connected to one another via the Internet . In order to be able to send and receive e-mails, you therefore need an e-mail account with an e-mail provider (also: e-mail provider). An e-mail provider has such a mail server and sets up an e-mail mailbox for his customers in which all incoming e-mails to the customer or user are stored on this mail server.

Set up an email account

The moment the user creates a user account with the e-mail provider as access authorization, the e-mail provider sets up an e-mail box for him. Here the user selects a user name (often a pseudonym) and a password. The user will need both of these later if he wants to access his e-mail inbox in order to identify himself to the e-mail provider as the owner of the e-mail inbox.

Both the user name and the e-mail provider can be reflected in the e-mail address , as it has the form kontakt @ domain . To the right of the @ sign is the name of the email provider (more precisely: the domain name of the organization to which the mail server belongs), to the left of the @ sign is typically the user name of the owner of the email account. (Exceptions to this rule are, for example, alias addresses (see below), e-mail distribution lists and mailing lists .)

However, with some e-mail providers you can also set up your own domain instead of a pure user account. The domain name can be freely selected, provided it is not yet occupied. The provider's mail server is still used, but its name no longer appears in the address. The administration of the domain (and the multiple mailboxes usually possible with it) is then the responsibility of the user. The advantage here is that the domain can be taken with you when you change provider, so the e-mail addresses are retained.

Since many providers do not check the identity of the user, it is possible to create e-mail accounts under a false name. Therefore, when you receive an incoming e-mail, you cannot be sure whether it actually originates from the person who suggests the e-mail address as the sender.

Use and access to an e-mail inbox

The user can access the e-mails in his e-mail inbox using an e-mail program , via webmail or - for mobile use - with a device-specific app , depending on which types of access the e-mail provider supports.

If you have several e-mail accounts - be it with the same or with different e-mail providers - it is possible to set it up so that all of these e-mail accounts can be managed via a single one. If you access your e-mail via an e-mail program, you only have to add all your e-mail accounts for this purpose. If you use webmail, you create a so-called POP3 collection service in your preferred e-mail inbox. In both cases, all incoming e-mails in the connected e-mail boxes will then be displayed in the inbox.

Alias ​​addresses and disposable email addresses

The owner can usually set up several e-mail addresses ("alias addresses") on one e-mail account. The e-mails to all these additional e-mail addresses are delivered to the same e-mail inbox as e-mails to the first e-mail address (main address) of the e-mail account. In this way you can communicate with different addressees under different sender names, but all incoming e-mails can be retrieved in the same e-mail inbox. The alias address can be deleted if an increasing number of spam e -mails get into the mailbox. If, on the other hand, several e-mail boxes are assigned to one e-mail address, this alias is also called a distribution list.

Disposable e-mail addresses are e-mail addresses that are only valid for a limited time. These addresses are used primarily to avoid spam . They are used, among other things, in forums, chats and other sites that require an email address when registering. The retrieval is usually done via a browser directly on the provider's website (webmail), but there are also services that forward the e-mails to other mailboxes, which then enables the retrieval via an e-mail program. In some cases the addresses expire automatically after a certain period of time or after a certain number of incoming mails, in other cases they are manually unsubscribed or simply no longer used. Services such as Spamgourmet and Sneakemail use a similar approach . Most providers can view the received e-mail as text and HTML versions. Occasionally it is also possible to receive and download e-mail attachments.

Security and data protection

E-mails are stored in file form on the mail server. Accordingly, they can be viewed by any administrator of the mail server - provided they have not been transmitted in encrypted form. However, access to this data is only permitted for administrative purposes ( telecommunications secrecy , see also e-mail providers ).

Individual evidence

  1. E-mail, the electronic mail . Project "Consumers Safe Online", Technical University Berlin

Web links

Wiktionary: email account  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations