Email – what platform should I use and why? Free V Paid email…

Before you can decide which email type to use – you need to understand the differences between each one and the pros and cons related to each one

POP3

POP3 (Post Office Protocol, version 3) was the first major email protocol that was used in the early 1990s at the early years of the internet. A POP-based email service is simple: your email client (such as Outlook, Mac Mail, or Thunderbird) connects to the mail server and then downloads your emails directly to the computer. The downloaded email is then deleted from the server (though, most clients have a setting that can prevent this).

PROS:

  • Cheap – no licenses required – usually free
  • Supported by virtually all devices.
  • Simple to implement and configure.

CONS:

  • When a message is downloaded, it is removed from the server (if you save messages to the server, you may end up downloading the same email multiple times).
  • When a message is sent, there is no server copy.
  • If you access your mail on different devices, you’ll see different emails depending on what was downloaded to which device.
  • No way to organise your inbox. The inbox is your only folder.
  • Hasn’t had a major update since 1988.
  • Largely obsolete.

IMAP

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is the second major iteration of how people access their email – and also the most popular today. It has all the functions of POP3, but also has one major benefit that matters to most users: email syncing between multiple devices. This allows you to have the same email experience between devices because all your email (incoming and outgoing) are stored directly on the server, rather than downloaded directly to your computer. For this reason, IMAP replaced POP3 and has largely made it obsolete.

PROS:

  • Cheap – no licenses required.
  • Supported by virtually all devices.
  • Email syncing. All messages, including sent messages, are saved on the server.
  • Folder support to organize your inbox.
  • Compatibility: if your server supports IMAP, it most likely supports POP3.

CONS:

  • Easy to run out of inbox space if you never delete emails or have small storage.

 Hosted Microsoft Exchange and Office 365

Microsoft Exchange / Microsoft Office 365 is a proprietary platform developed by Microsoft. It requires the purchase of user or server licenses. Traditionally, it has been marketed to the Enterprise-level consumer and offers all the functionality of IMAP but also has other features to help businesses and organisations better collaborate among employees and staff. Features such as shared address books & calendars, shared file storage, and native integration with other Microsoft products like SharePoint and Office. Microsoft Office 365 – competes directly with Google Apps for Business – and is geared to make Enterprise-level functionality found in Exchange more cost-effective for small to medium-sized businesses.

PROS:

  • Email syncing – instead of downloading an email, a copy is created on your device while the original stays on the server.
  • Folder support to organize emails.
  • Sent messages are saved on the server.
  • Native integration with most Microsoft products.
  • Offers many collaborative tools to enable team members to share resources like calendars and documents.
  • Licenses can be purchased per-user.
  • Multiple aliases per mailbox
  • Ability to backup mailbox and restore to individual emails

CONS:

  • Can be expensive
  • Setup and maintenance requires specialized knowledge.

WHO SHOULD USE HOSTED EXCHANGE or MICROSOFT OFFICE 365?

  • If you want the benefits and functionality of Exchange server, but a more simple, streamlined experience.
  • If you want to avoid the licensing costs of a full Exchange server and only want to pay on a per-user basis.

WHICH ONE IS THE BEST CHOICE?

Your email is just as important as any of your other IT services, so you will want to make sure you’re getting the best value for money, as well as the best possible service. There are lots of free email options out on the market, but does it make sense to use them if you’re running a serious business?

BENEFITS OF PAID EMAIL SERVICES

Paying for an email service means that you can easily send emails through your own domain, so you can have a professional email address like yourname@yourdomain.com. It makes your company look professional, and make your service seem more credible. What’s more, it’s relatively easy to set up a basic email service, and many paid providers can automate the set up for you.

If you pay to host your email through private server hosting, or through a service like Google Apps or Office 365 then you will also get a more reliable service compared to free email hosting. You will also have dedicated customer service and support, plus the server you choose to host with most likely has higher security in place and email filtering to help reduce the amount of spam and viruses and malware you will receive.

Additionally, services like Office 365 offer extras such as cloud storage, and email access on the go, which can be particularly useful if you need to access your email remotely

WHY BOTHER WITH FREE SERVICES?

The big pro is that the service is free. And if you’re a small business who doesn’t rely heavily on emails to get in touch with clients or customers, then you can most likely get by for a while by using a free email client.

You don’t necessarily have to live with a @gmail.com or @hotmail.com domain either. Gmail easily lets you use their system to send emails from your own domain, however you need to have your domain set up to handle this. You can usually use the free email services that your DNS offers (usually limited to one free email address) to set up the initial server and then filter it through Gmail, Yahoo or whatever free service you want to use.

However, these free services aren’t as secure so are more open to hacking, and you’ll have to live with adverts in and around your emails. What’s more, if you’re on a free service, then your email may not be routed with priority, meaning that you may not experience an instantaneous conversation.

PRICING AND SERVICES

If you’re a small business, the attraction of a free email service might be the fact that you don’t have to deal with the cost of running an email server. However, it can cost very little to host email. Some private servers can cost a few pounds a month, and full packages such as Google Apps or Office 365 cost between £3 and £7 per month for a basic package. So cost should never be a factor when it comes to ensuring the best email service for your company!

Contact us for a quote for any of the Microsoft Hosted Exchange or Office 365 services.



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