What is an email domain and how to choose one

An email address always has the same structure: the user name in front of the @ symbol and a domain name behind it. But what is the email domain all about? And what are your options for customizing the email domain to create a unique email address?
Image of wooden Scrabble tiles spelling “DOMAIN” on a wood surface
A unique domain spells an unforgettable email address
Keep reading to get the 411 on email domains!

What is an email domain?

To put it simply, the part of your email address behind the @ symbol – in other words, @mail.com, @email.com, @usa.com – is called a domain. It functions like a virtual street name that lets your email get delivered to the right address. Each email domain is associated with a specific mail server or servers. So, for example, an email sent to an address ending in one of mail.com’s 200+ domain names will be delivered to the servers in our company’s data center.
 
An email domain can have an almost unlimited number of email addresses associated with it – after all, think of how many different combinations of letters you could put in front of the @mail.com email domain! It’s the name in front of the email domain that makes your email address distinctive and lets email be delivered to your inbox, like the number of your house or apartment in your postal address. 

How is an email domain different from a website address?

 A domain name is one part of an email address, but domain names also are also part of the addresses of webpages (called the URL). For example, all of the internet pages associated with our business start with “www.mail.com/”.  You can tell the difference between an email address and a website address because they are formatted differently: web addresses always start with www. and email addresses always contain an @ sign. The domain name in the website address serves the same purpose as discussed above, however: It identifies the server associated with the domain, in this case the server(s) where the website is stored.
 
Fun fact: Computers actually use IP addresses when they talk to each other, so you could just type the IP address that’s associated with a domain name into your browser and you’d get the same result as with the domain name itself. However, to human beings, IP addresses just look like random strings of numbers that are almost impossible to remember, so domain names serve as a user-friendly option for finding websites.

How do you get your own domain?

If you’d like your own domain so you can set up a customized website plus email addresses, you have to purchase a domain and register the name. There are numerous web hosting services, like IONOS, that will help you with this process. Please keep in mind that you can only register for a domain name that’s not already in use, and that you don’t actually “own” the domain – you will pay an annual fee for the right to use it exclusively. Having your own domain lets you set up an email address with @yourdomainname. This is a great option if you are planning to have a website and would like your email addresses to share your brand or company name. However, if you are simply looking for a quick and easy way to get a customized email address, you can sign up for a free account with an email provider like mail.com that offers a broad selection of unique email domains.

How do I choose an email domain?

Instead of signing up with a free email provider that uses the same generic domain name for all its customers, you can choose an email domain that makes a statement about your profession, business or interests. To find the email domain that’s right for you, just go to our list of 200+ domains and select the one that grabs your attention. Then click on that domain name or use the domain chooser at the top of the page to check the availability of the email address you’d like and create an email account under that name:
Screenshot of mail.com domain chooser
Select an email domain and check the availability of the email address you’d like to create

Good to know: If you can’t decide on the perfect email domain name or you’d like to use several for different purposes, with mail.com you can create and use up to 10 email addresses within a single account.
 
Select a unique email domain name to customize your email address – but not until you’ve left us some feedback below!
 
Images: 1&1/Shutterstock
 

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