Hosting Your Own Email

Webhosting 15.9.2012 Comments Off on Hosting Your Own Email

There comes a point where most business need to start bringing their email management in house. Many business, and likely you yourself, use what is called a POP3 account. A provider collects your emails, then your computer connects and downloads those emails to your email client i.e. Outlook, Entourage etc. The provider will usually offer some sort of SPAM and virus filtering, and a cut down web mail system to see emails that haven’t been downloaded, but that’s about it. How about a system where you can view pretty much ALL of your emails, including folders, tasks etc. from any web browser, any computer, and also the new range of smartphone devices? Don’t let your eyes glaze over, this is easier, and cheaper, to implement than you think with options such as Microsoft’s Exchange system or the cloud orientated Google Apps for Business.

The main issue with POP accounts is generally they have a 100MB server limit (not even 1/4 of a CD) so even if you leave a copy of your email on the provider’s server, you wont be able to keep much of an archive. As well your computer is likely not synchronised in any way, what is on your computer, is solely on your computer. This also means unless you are vigilant on backups, your email system is constantly at risk of data loss. Another problem with email clients such as Outlook is that to ensure a proper backup you to have it closed, which means you have to either have a manual or automatic backup procedure that is carried out when your email client is shut; not terribly convenient. I can safely assume that most people who visit here do not have a recent (if any) email backup. Hosting your own emails on an Exchange like server means not only is a full copy of your entire email folder list kept on such server, but this folder is additionally backed up in addition to a local cached copy on your computer. This also helps if you delete a bunch of emails that you need to retrieve later from the backup.

Another issues with POP type accounts is the lack of true remote access. Unless you are physically in front of your computer, or have some remote management tools it can be hard to see not only new emails but also your previous archived mail. While you can configure your iPhone (or other smart phone) and computer so you get emails on both without affecting receiving on the other, you still have to sort through those emails when you are back in front of your computer. By hosting your own emails, you can have a true two way sync so if you read and sort an email on your phone, it will replicate on your computer. Don’t worry about the technicalities of it, just have faith in the technology Gods doing their job, that is this usually works without many issues once configured by your IT support staff. Also you can read, sort, file, and manage your emails from any web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox etc) with a simple and secure log in webpage setup.

For businesses you also get a level of control just not possible with POP accounts. With an Exchange type hosted server you have control over security, sharing of mail boxes, public mailboxes and who can read/manage these, shared calendars and task lists, and also user usage reporting. Any cost of implementing an email server can easily be costed pre-empting a data loss or corruption event. Additionally an email server can also be coupled as a file server, web server, and other roles to really provide a great tool to manage your businesses files, folders, and client/staff documents. This is where the decision comes in to decide whether you have something in house such as a Microsoft Exchange server, or go for a cloud based solution such as Google Apps for Business which will be discussed at a later date.

Making a decision doesn’t mean you have to jump right in. A server installation needs a proper road map and IT architect as part of a wider IT evaluation of your business. Many businesses offer this though it’s better to stick to proven, reliable vendors in your local area, who has specific server knowledge. Ask for a reference and portfolio from any IT vendor before agreeing to any installation and ask other business owners in your industry how they manage their IT needs. Most of all ensure you don’t put off such a critical decision too long. Bring in an independent IT consultant to simplify the meanings and demystify the technology barrier so you know exactly what you are getting, why you are getting it, and how this will help you, your business, your staff, and your customers, in the long run.

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