The Basics of Email Hosting

What is email hosting? Do I need email hosting? Can’t I get email through my web host? If you’re considering outsourcing your email to an email hosting specialist, these are just a few of many questions you’re probably asking yourself right now.

Email hosting, in the literal sense, is hosting for email. Generally, email hosting or hosted email is a managed service meaning many or all aspects of the email including security, antivirus protection, spam filtering, archiving, backups and maintenance are handled by the email hosting company.

Why do you need an email hosting company? Outsourcing your email to an email hosting specialist results in an improved level of service and reliability. In most cases, businesses make the decision to outsource their email after either running an in house server or using a web hosting provider’s email service. In both scenarios, compromised service and lack of dependability are compelling reasons to look for an email host. If managing an in house email server were easy or if the web hosts could offer truly dependable email, you probably wouldn’t be looking for email hosting in the first place.

What do you look for in an email hosting provider? If you’re already looking for email hosting, then chances are good that reliability and dependability are at the very top of your list of requirements. You’re also probably in need of improved spam control. You also may have experienced the inability to consistently send mail as a result of poorly guarded IPs and subsequent blacklisting. Similarly, you may be missing incoming mail, which often results from inferior or overly aggressive spam filtering. While there are many additional features to consider, clients continually cite service reliability, security and performance as the most critical items.

So how do you search through the myriad of email hosting providers and find an email hosting company that offers truly dependable and high availability email? First and foremost, look for companies who have partnered with solid technology providers. There are key players in network redundancy, server infrastructure, email security and spam control. Each component is crucial to deliver high availability email. Find a company who has developed lasting relationships with their providers. Ultimately, those partnerships are what stand behind your email.

Be leery of any provider offering unlimited email accounts and/or storage, especially at extremely discounted prices. Fully redundant networking and clustered servers are essential components in enterprise class email, and these technologies don’t come cheap! Anyone offering unlimited mailboxes for $10 a month is not offering high availability email.

Next, take the 100% uptime guarantee for what it is — a marketing tactic. Read the terms and conditions closely, and you’ll see that the 100% uptime guarantee is really just an elaborate refund or service credit policy. Look instead for 100% human responsiveness. Uptime guarantees are meaningless when you can’t reach your account manager. Find a provider who will give you a real account manager with real phone numbers.

Finally, try to get feedback on the company’s email service from active clients. A reputable email hosting company will not hesitate to provide references. Ask for some references in your field or area of business. Find out firsthand from existing clients how the service holds up and if the support is reliable.

If you’re replacing an in house server, outsourced email hosting savings can be substantial. On the other hand, if you’ve had free email through a web host and are now looking for improved email, you might be experiencing sticker shock. Can your business justify spending a few dollars per user each month? As email increases in popularity, its role as a communication tool in your business should validate the cost. In the end, it may be a small price to pay in exchange for dependable email service.