Email Forwarding vs. Email POP (POP3) Mailbox (inbox) on the Server

Additional information:     Outlook Setup    Webmail vs. Outlook     

Your SherwoodHosting web & email account allows you to receive email using your own domain name in your email address. The benefits of using an email address with your own domain name are several:

  • Business sophistication, Brand recognition(marketing "branding")
  • You do not need to announce if your connectivity ISP changes (or changes name). For instance if you switch from AOL to Comcast as a connectivity provider, your email address remains the same (

With your own email address using your own domain name, you have two options for how to set up that address: Email forwarder or a POP (POP3) Email account (mailbox) on our servers. These are described in detail below.


POP3 Mailbox

A POP3 mailbox is a mail account with your own unique email address using your own domain name. Mail is addressed to this mailbox and messages sent to you accumulate in your mailbox on our servers until you access it. You can access your messages on our server using one of two methods:  a mailreader application (a software program such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc.) installed on your own computer, or via one of many webmail utilities that are accessed from a web browser (such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc.).  Both access methods have similar functions:  you can read/delete/save/reply to messages you've received or create new messages to send out.

There is an important concept regarding your POP3 Mailbox: whether received messages are left on the server or not. When messages accumulate, they are consuming disk space on the server and count against your quota. Unless you have large attachments or lots of emails, this is usually not a problem. However, it is wise to keep your mailbox fairly clean since you may need to have room someday to receive a large attached file, and often as is human nature, we keep things that we no longer need and then forget what they were.

There are several cases for "if" and "how" messages are kept or not kept in your server mailbox, depending on your situation and program settings you've chosen.

  • If you use webmail: Your messages remain until you explicitly delete them. (Most webmail utilities have a recycle bin from which you can recover deleted messages, but you need to empty the recycle bin from time to time.) The act of accessing the list of messages in your inbox does not delete them, nor does just reading the email message.
  • If you use Outlook (or another mailreader application program such as Eudora):  Your application will access your server mailbox and transfer any new messages that have arrived into your inbox on your own computer. At the time that the newly arrived messages are being transferred to your own computer, your application has the option of "leaving messages on server" or deleting the messages from the server. Most people choose to not "leave messages on server" so that their own computer has the only copy of messages and nothing accumulates on the server for you to worry about later.

    Note: do not confuse your inbox (on your home or office computer's mail reader application like OUTLOOK) with your inbox (your POP3 mailbox on the server, readable via WEBMAIL). Webmail sees/reads the messages that are currently on the server- if your computer's mail application downloads (and deletes) the message(s) from the server, they will no longer be on the server for webmail applications to read/see.


A FORWARDER is mechanism on our servers that sends on a message received for your address. On its own, no copy is kept on the server, however there are many variations that you can have the same email address be set up for both a FORWARDER as well as a POP3 mailbox. (And there are still other mechanisms, such as RESPONDERS, that can be automatically reply with a "canned" message, such as "out of office.")  A FORWARDER is much like a forwarding address registered at the U.S. Post Office: a piece of mail arrives to your address and the post office merely passes it along to the new address that you have set up with them.

For a given domain name (web & email hosting account), you can have many email addresses and they can each have independent configurations (e.g., one can be a forwarder, one can be a POP3 mailbox).


On the surface, POP3 mailboxes and FORWARDERS are straightforward. But in choosing which one you want for your own email addresses, there are many details and consequences to be considered. Many of the aspects are more closely related to the decision about which method you use to read your email (webmail vs. Outlook).


Access email from more than one computer

More than one person accessing a single email address

Leave on server: Messages can be seen from more than one computer or location, until the message is explicitly deleted.

Not left on server: Whoever gets there first to transfer (download) the message into their own computer will "steal" that message and a subsequent check of email (from the same or another computer) will no longer see that message on the server.

Messages are always on the server until someone explicitly deletes them. If more than one person or computer are intending to access a single mailbox, then you need to have your own agreements/conventions for how you want to handle not missing a message, and when it's okay to delete a message.

Often the solution is to Forward to two separate mailboxes, and then deal with it that way. In a large business environment, a better way to handle this is with a web-based database that tracks realtime updates for your correspondence or business transactions.

Archiving of messages Archive your mail reader's inbox on your own computer. A common method is to archive every quarter, the last quarter's messages into another folder or directory. Many webmail utilities have archiving mechanisms, but you need to choose where you're archiving the old message (either another directory on the server which counts against your quota, or downloading to your own local computer)
Address Books
Mailreaders have their own address book mechanisms. If you're using multiple computers, you'll need to copy your address book information and keep it updated. Many webmail utilities allow for keeping address books on the server. Wherever you access your email from, you will still have usage of the same address book.
Spam Considerations Outlook(as well as other programs) has filters that you can program to sort spam to a trash folder. Many webmail utilities have filters that sort spam to a trash folder.


  • Main computer is in your office, but want to read email from home and on the road
    Once your office computer “picks up” (downloads) messages from our server, the received messages don’t stay on the server but rather are in your office computer’s inbox.  If you want to spy on incoming email when you’re at home (or on the road),  you need to get the incoming messages to remain on the server while you're out: go into Outlook (or the equivalent)    FILE> WORK OFFLINE (or shut down your computer completely).   This will instruct Outlook NOT to check for new messages every few minutes, and thus the newly arrived messages are left on the server and you can access via webmail (webmail, mail2web, horde, etc.) from home.   Then when you return to work the next day, uncheck WORK OFFLINE and your mail reader program will resume checking for new messages (SEND/RECEIVE) automatically.  The messages that had been collecting on the server (those you were spying on from home) will be downloaded into your office computer and deleted from the server—you then read them from your inbox as normal.