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I was hoping you fine folks could comment on your experiences with using a full email address as a login name for an email service vs. using the username (everything before the @domain.tld).

I ask because I have inherited a legacy email system in which usernames are completely unique, and users can log in via that username (to other services besides email as well) and I do not want to ask tens of thousands of users to have to update their email settings to support virtual domain hosting without good reason.

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closed as not constructive by Zoredache, John Gardeniers, Michael Hampton, Scott Pack, Iain Sep 25 '12 at 21:22

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It's because companies are changing their aliases, so because not to confuse with usernames, and the accounts, the login traditionally is done via username and not email alias. – Andrew Smith Aug 29 '12 at 2:02
We started out with user@domain as the login name because we started out with more than one domain (originally 7, now 15) where some staff were using more than one domain that needed to be different mailboxes, and I didn't want to set up and manage more than one mail server. The only problem encountered is that Thunderbird would not do this for the assisted account setup and required going back and changing it after it set things up. – Skaperen Aug 29 '12 at 3:40
@AndrewSmith You nailed it, we allow users to migrate between a number of domains without having to change their username. This behavior is really strange to me considering I cannot simply change my email address from to and expect my messages to follow me. – somecallmemike Aug 29 '12 at 13:03
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I haven't made a big survey of "the Internet" but I do have the following observations:

  1. Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo all want you to use your full email address to log in, but Google and Yahoo have default domains ( and respectively) that they automatically use if you do not provide one.

  2. Many (possibly most?) newer web sites use email addresses as the login, simply because it is easy to manage them and you don't have to worry about two users who want the same account name.

  3. Some of the worst email systems I have ever seen use login names that are entirely different than the email address (such as one law firm I know of that uses "first initial"+"last name" for addresses but "last name"+"first initial"+"middle initial" as the account name).

If you want to add additional domains to your server, you should consider (if you can technically do so) doing what Google did for gmail. There is a default domain for username-only logins (in this case and for any other domain you have to put the full address.

This allows your legacy users to keep logging in the same way as before while at the same time allowing for expansion with new domains.

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As to how common it is, well, that depends. It's common enough that I've seen it on one system or another at almost every place I've worked as an SA.

But it's perfectly fine, and [username]@[domain] is simply the fully qualified username. Much like a server on a domain is often shortened to [machinename], even though its name is really [machinename].[domain], user names are often shortened for the sake of brevity and expediency. The [domain] part is implied between people and (where necessary) explicitly provided behind the scenes, transparently to the user.

I would personally look at seeing if I could drop the domain bit off the end, because it is a little bit of an inconvenience, but I'd weigh that against how difficult and risky the change to do so would be, and I'd factor in the length of the domain name too. I worked at a company with a 19 character domain suffix once, and I made sure I didn't have to log in anywhere by explicitly providing the suffix pretty quickly. I've also worked at companies with 3 letter domain names, and for something that short, I generally didn't bother unless I was desperate for something to do.

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We do both. The 'official' webmail client that the host we've been using from before my time supports multiple clients and uses the username@domain.tld format. The system I set up later using roundcube only supports our own domain, and uses just the domain name.

A third option would be to use the client name as the login, and have a drop down box to select the domain - roundcube supports this.

Up to this point, all of this is on the 'mail client' side

You can also run multiple domains in one server - the flurdy howto I've been meaning to try seems to do this, and lets you redirect things into different aliases on one server.

There's a lot of options here, and most of them can be massaged to your needs.

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