How to Host Your Email and WordPress Together

When you set up hosting for WordPress and start digging into cPanel, it can be tempting to click a few times and set up an email address with your domain. I mean, it’s right there.

While it sure is convenient to create an email address in the same place where you’re managing your site, it’s not always the best idea. Sure it’s free and takes all of a minute to set up, but there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with it at the same time.

Today, I’ll share how you can set up an email address with your domain through cPanel and your WordPress hosting, the pros and cons of hosting your own email, and when it’s a good idea. I’ll also cover when it’s best to go with a dedicated email provider instead.

Setting Up Email with cPanel

After logging into cPanel, go to Email > Email Accounts. This is where you can set up your first custom email address with your domain. For example, [email protected].

The cPanel main page. The "Email Accounts" button is highlighted.
Click the <strong>Email Accounts</strong> button after logging into cPanel.

Next, enter the email address you want. Include everything that should show up before the @ symbol. Then, enter and confirm the password you want to use with it.

You can click the Password Generator button to create a strong password automatically.

The Add Email Account page in cPanel.
Enter your desired username and password for your custom email address.

You can also choose your mailbox quota. This is the maximum amount of storage space your email address is allotted.

Every email you send has a file size based on what the email contains. Text emails are usually in and around 10 KB in size, whereas emails with images and attachments can end up being a lot larger. The exact size would depend on the file sizes of the images and attachments that were sent.

It may be important to note that the email software you use to check your mail typically comes with a limit to the file size of the attachments you’re allowed to send per email.

The default mailbox quota is 250 MB, which is usually enough for average use, but you can adjust this amount to whatever you want.

You can also select the unlimited radio button instead if you don’t want to set a specific limit and you want your email storage to be infinite.

Keep in mind that you are limited by your hosting plan and you can’t go over the storage space you have for your account. For example, if you have a limit of 10 GB storage, your address can’t receive more than that amount in emails even if you choose the unlimited mailbox quota option.

Once you have made your selection, uncheck the box below the Create Account button if you don’t want to receive a welcome email with configuration instructions. Otherwise, leave it checked.

Then, go ahead and click the Create Account button to activate your new, custom email address. If all goes well, you should see a message below the button you just clicked confirming that the process was successfully completed.

The cPanel Add Email Account page. The "Create Account" button is highlighted.
Choose your mailbox quota and click the <strong>Create Account</strong> button to activate your new email address.

Accessing Your New Email Account

Scroll down to the Email Accounts section and find your new email account listed. Click the More button toward the right and select the Access Webmail option.

The "Add Email Account" page in cPanel and the "Email Accounts" section. The "More" button has been clicked and the "Access Webmail" button is highlighted.
Click the <strong>More</strong> button next to your listed email account, then click the <strong>Access Webmail</strong> option.

A new tab should open in your browser where you can select the free email software you want to use to access your emails.

First, you’re prompted with a message to let you know you can change your email configuration option at any time. Click Got it to continue.

There are three options to choose from and selecting one makes it the default email platform for your account. You can change this later if you want.

It doesn’t matter which one you choose. It all comes down to personal preference.

The "Choose a Default Webmail Application" page in cPanel.
Choose the email app you want to use by default to check your mail.

Click the Webmail logo at the top of the page to access your email account.

You can check your email, send messages and do most of the tasks you’re used to in a standard email account.

An example email account page with the Roundcube app.
Click Webmail at the top of the page to access your email account for the first time.

Choosing the Default Email Software

To view a different email app you can use to access your account, click your address at the top of the page and click on the one on the list that you want to preview.

To select a new default webmail app, click on the star next to the email app’s name that you want to use. If you see a star that’s filled in, it means that the corresponding email app is the default.

The email address has been clicked at the top of the Webmail page and a different email app on the list is highlighted.
You can choose a different email app by first clicking your address at the top.

Hosting Your Own Email

Setting up a custom email address in cPanel alongside your WordPress site is pretty straightforward. But is it the best option? In most cases, it isn’t and it’s important to consider why before creating an email account.

Still, there are reasons why it could be a good solution:

  • Your website and email can be conveniently managed in the same place
  • You have full control over settings including spam filters and mailbox quotas
  • You can create as many email accounts as you want

That’s about where the pros end. The list of cons run a lot deeper:

  • A lot less stable – If your WordPress site goes down, your email does, too. Not all web hosting plans are hefty enough to handle email well.
  • Security is your responsibility – You’re responsible for making sure your site and your email are secure.
  • A secure site doesn’t mean your email is secure – There’s a lot more that goes into securing your email than a typical WordPress install.
  • If your email gets hacked, your site is at risk and vice versa – Having everything under one roof is as convenient for you as it is for hackers since they need to infiltrate fewer places to have access to more.
  • Many email apps are rudimentary – They often lack many features that you may be used to with email service providers such as Gmail.
  • It takes up a lot of your resources – Not only do you need to have enough storage space for your emails, but hosting your own email service takes up valuable space, and sending and receiving them eats up bandwidth.
  • Email migration is a huge undertaking – It’s a lot more difficult to migrate your email account than it is a WordPress site. This also makes it difficult if you decide you want to switch hosts.
  • Web hosting isn’t built for email hosting – Most web hosts are focused on, well, web hosting. They aren’t set up to host email well.
  • It’s complex – Running your own self-hosted email setup isn’t as simple as setting up a mailbox and there are a lot of moving parts.

For these reasons, you definitely shouldn’t set up email on the same server where you’re hosting your WordPress site, unless you’re running a quick test.

At the same time, there are instances where self-hosting your email isn’t such a bad idea:

  • You have a separate server that’s properly set up for hosting email.
  • You need a lot of control. For example, because you want to host email for a large company and you haven’t found a suitable alternative.
  • You want to add more security features than other solutions offer.
  • You require a lot of other email features and you can’t find a comparable email service.

If none of these situations apply to you, then it’s far better to set up an email account with a dedicated provider.

Dedicated Email Provider

In most cases, it’s best to set up your email through a dedicated email provider. It’s more stable, secure and you won’t need to migrate your email if you decide you want to switch web hosts.

The downside is you aren’t going to have as much control, but for most cases for typical uses, it’s not necessary.

It’s still important to research the email provider you choose to make sure you’re going to get the features and security you need with a reputable company.

Many hosting companies also offer a free email address with hosting, but there are many similar downsides as with self-hosting your email accounts:

  • Most web hosts are focused on web hosting and don’t offer a solid email solution.
  • This offer is usually made when you get shared hosting, which is less secure than other options.
  • If you decide to switch hosts, migrating your email is difficult, to say the least, especially if you host with a less than reputable company who decides to hold your email or other services for ransom.
  • The free email you get often comes with a tiny mailbox quota.
  • Depending on your web host, your email could go down if your site does as well.

If you need a reliable email account with enough storage space and the right amount of features, it’s best to choose a dedicated email provider, though, it comes with a price tag that ranges depending on the service you choose.

Wrapping Up

Self-hosting your email alongside your WordPress site isn’t your best bet in most cases, but there are situations where you would want to self-host your own email on a secure server, dedicated to your email.

For the typical user, a dedicated email provider is the best solution since it offers the most security and stability.

Your email account also isn’t the only thing you should keep separate from your WordPress hosting. Check out 10 Reasons Why Your Domains and WordPress Should Be Kept Separate for details.

For an in-depth overview of spam and fighting it, check out The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Spam.

Jenni McKinnon
Do you self-host your email or do you use a separate email service for that? If not, have you been tempted to host your own email? What email apps or email providers do you recommend? Share your experience in the comments below.

17 Responses

      • Design Lord, Child of Thor

        I should add that you can use an email client with Zoho without a problem. I have moved from a Mac to Windows and have been most unimpressed by Outlook and Mail and started using Zoho’s web interface. It’s actually very good. You can message to other work colleagues, add text to a note, calendar or create a task very easily just by highlighting text. You can also schedule when an email is sent and their reminders are amazingly useful. When sending an email you can get a reminder on every reply, if no one replies by a certain date or a standard reminder at a certain date.
        I love the reminder if no one replies. That takes away the pain of either having to remember it yourself or set something in your calendar or to do list.

  • Site Builder, Child of Zeus

    Nice article… now for a follow-up article – The Best Email Providers Other Than Your Hosting Server

    I’ve been considering Google G Suite. Also looked at FastMail. I’ll have to check Zoho mentioned in Fabio’s post. I would like to see Pros and Cons of the top contenders.

    I use Outlook on my desktop and would like to continue using it – I have tons of folders set up for my clients, purchases, etc.. If I switch to Google G Suite, can I have my mail forwarded to Outlook on my desktop?

  • Mr. LetsFixTheWorld

    I’ve hosted email with shared domain hosts, and felt the pain of their lack of focus. The biggest problem is that with so many people using cheap shared hosts, these hosts are frequently blocked by independent RBLs. So one new shared host customer violates the ToS, sends a bunch of spam, the entire email server gets blocked, and thousands of people can no longer send email.

    So for years I’ve been hosting my important business email with a for-fee company that does nothing but provide email services. But the same thing happens there. Some company will send an email blast that looks spammy, people on Yahoo or GMail will click their “This is Spam” button, and the RBLs will block those servers too. So while I pay for email accounts every year I still get bounces, and sometimes hear from people that they sent my company email that bounced back.

    Even if you host your own server you could get RBL’d. Some of these RBLs will cutoff entire Class B or Class C blocks. They have the power to do this. So if you get a virtual private server with a reputable company and one of their other clients run a relay server, You get cut off along with everyone else until the problem is resolved.

    Unfortunately my conclusion is that it doesn’t matter where we host or if we self-host. Every company will say they’re aggressive on spam and relays and protecting their client base. They’ll boast personal relationships with the RBL companies to minimize the time that they’re blocked. But in the end they are all vulnerable in the exact same places.

    Email is a primitive protocol. The RFC spec is over 30 years old. Email clients and servers all need to agree on protocols, and because of a huge resistance to change, we’re all stuck with spam/UCE, RBLs, and over $20Billion per year spent on all of the related problems that we perpetuate.

    My solution is not to do just one thing or another. I pay an email company for my primary business. I use Yahoo and Gmail. And for new businesses based on WordPress sites I host email with the webserver host – because it’s free and easy to do so. I also use SneakEmail extensively to give out anonymous addresses to new websites, and thus protect my services from getting directly hit/abused by spammers.

    This article could have been summarized with “Email has nothing to do with WordPress. Don’t think of your web services or tools as having anything to do with email. Shop for email services with the same diligence as you would for any other product or service.” All of details about CPanel and webmail applications can be found anywhere else. I hope to see WPMUDEV keeping its focus in future blogs.

  • Flash Drive


    But I have another problem.

    I host my website on Google compute engine and they don’t support the email outgoing as they block the port. I use either sendgrid or google suit etc to send mail. Incoming is proper. That is due to they block port.

    Is there any solution for that. So I receive my mail as well as sending mail without the 3rd party integration.

  • New Recruit

    I use Rackspace for my clients email and WPEngine for hosting. I also used Rackspace Cloud Sites (now Liquid Web). Email hosting is include (using Rackspace service).

    When combing site and email hosting together, switching hosts is a serious pain. Nothing pisses off a client more than their email going or losing email in general.

    I use RAckspace email because moving email from Cloudsites was seamless to the customer (no email setting changes).

    I still have 20+ sites I can’t move because the client can’t afford/won’t pay for separate email hosting. I’m stuck and they are stuck as well.

    So….stay away from combining the two services. It is never worth it in the long run.

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