Ask LH: How Should I Host Business Email?

Dear Lifehacker, I have been running a family member’s small business web site for the past couple of years. They finally want to get on the personalised email bandwagon (and move away from their address), which means I need to set up some email hosting for them.

Currently the domain points to a free webhost. It’s a good one considering that it’s free, but the email storage is only 250MB. I feel this will run out very quickly!

Now that Google Apps isn’t allowing newcomers to use its free service for domain hosting, what options do I have for an online solution? I’d happily use a mail client to download all the messages off the server, but then they lose the ability to check the email on different computers or mobiles – right? Any suggestions? Signed, Support Never Ends

Typing picture from Shutterstock

Dear SNE,

Here’s the plain and slightly blunt truth: if it’s a business web site, then paying for email hosting (and site hosting) is the sensible thing to do. This does not need to involve massive expenditure. For instance, if you did go with Google Apps, that’s just $50 a year. If $50 a year is going to make the difference between a business being profitable and unprofitable, then it’s time to close up shop.

Who would I recommend? Rather than singling out a specific provider, I’d suggest this: do some searching and find someone local (and by local, I mean in your relative’s region and time zone). The cheapest hosting options tend to be based out of the US, but that’s less than ideal if there are any problems. Picking a hosting company closer to home gets you off the hook when it comes to support. It’s lovely that you’re being helpful, but that process has its limits.

You’re correct in stating that once you’ve downloaded email off the server, it won’t be accessible on other devices. That said, if you do want to pursue the free route, one option is to back up mail to a standard Gmail account. That gives you a searchable archive of received mail, and a generous 10GB of storage if you do need to check from another device. It’s a useful secondary strategy, but in this case the better move is to pay for hosting.


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