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ISP, URL, e-mail

What’s the connection between your ISP, your e-mail address, and your website address (URL)?

Your e-mail address and your website address (URL) may be associated with your ISP (Internet service provider), or they may be completely separate.

Your internet service provider (ISP) is the company through which your computer connects to the Internet and the World Wide Web. When you sign up with an ISP, you usually receive one or more e-mail addresses as part of the deal. Most ISPs also provide some space for a personal web site as part of their service.

You can have an e-mail address without having an account with an ISP. Google is a well-known provider of free e-mail addresses (Gmail); there are many others.

Many people connect to the Web through a public terminal (for example, at an Internet cafe) or a machine at work, and then send and receive their personal e-mail using an address (such as their Gmail account) that is not related in any way to the ISP that provided the connection.

If you have your own domain, you may have one or more e-mail addresses that use that domain name. Your domain name will usually have nothing to do with your ISP’s address.

You can also have a web site at a “hosting company” that is not associated in any way with your ISP. Some companies (Bravenet, for example) provide free web site space, but your site may have advertising on it that you cannot control, and typically you cannot use your own domain name. Other companies charge you a hosting fee which varies with the size of the site and the services available to you; with paid services, you should have control over everything that appears on your pages. Usually you will get one or more (sometimes many more) “mailboxes” or e-mail addresses along with your web site at a hosting company.

You can have a web site without having any Internet connection yourself. For example, you can have someone else design and maintain your site and have your e-mail routed to a voice-mail system or secretarial service.

You can have several e-mail addresses with different service providers, and either forward all your e-mail to one address, or connect to the Internet through one address and then collect your e-mail from all the other addresses.

Related topics:

Putting your business on the Web – what services will you need?
Choosing an ISP (Internet service provider)

Last updated 17 August 2007