IT Blog

Office365 Technical User info

User accounts, Mailboxes and email addresses

  • Here’s an informational post. It’s a small thing but if you can get your head around what constitutes a user account, a mailbox and where an email address comes in it does mean we can all use the same correct terminology and that means less confusion, better communication and things get done quickly and correctly.
    • User Account
      • A user account is an account for a user so that they can gain access to a resource, or set of resources. Now, that resource could be a server, printer, mailbox or any combination of them. A user account will have a set of credentials associated with it, most usually a username and password.
    • Mailbox
      • A mailbox is a repository for email and often other associated information, such as calendar appointments, tasks and so on. If someone wants to access a mailbox they’ll normally need permission to do so through an associated user account. Mailboxes can exist for other resources such as meeting rooms, equipment or SharePoint libraries. Most commonly though, you might want a shared mailbox for several people to use.
    • An email address
      • Really, this is just a destination for email. Very much like a house address, it might have one person associated with it, it might have many, like a hotel or factory, it might just re-direct stuff elsewhere, like a PO box.


Mostly it’s assumed that all three of the above are, to some extent, one and the same. However, this isn’t always necessarily the case.

Service requests.

If you need any of the following setting up, which we’re happy to do for you, please read on so that you know what to ask for and the information you need to supply. Obviously, most of the time this won’t be a critical service issue as you’ll know in good time so please make our life a little easier and make your request in advance.

  • User account
    • The user’s full name
    • Any relevant personal information which may be mobile number, working location, hours of work etc.
    • The primary email address for their mailbox as well as and further addresses (if their name is easily misspelt, it’s often an idea to include a variation of their primary email address that includes the misspelling)
    • The machine(s) the user will be access rights to
    • Any distribution groups (see below) or security groups they need to be members of
    • When they start
    • What assistance they may need when they start (setting up a smartphone or tablet for example)
  • Mailbox (you may request a mailbox but one will normally be created with a user account)
    • If a shared mailbox, detail who needs access and what permissions
  • Email address
    • Detail what mailbox (Fred’s mailbox, or the shared accounts mailbox) you need the address adding to
    • If you need a distribution group creating, details the email address and the list of recipients.

If a redirector of some sort (maybe to an external contact) details the address and where it’s to go to.