Email is ubiquitous. Half of the global population uses email. And every business needs email in some fashion to function. But for a business –– at least one that wants to appear like a business –– getting email isn’t as simple as just creating a Gmail account. Email and how it’s hosted, has a significant impact on a business, as it can affect everything from its credibility to its security.
If you’re like most small business owners, however, peeling back the onion on email hosting is not a priority. In fact, if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably just learning what email hosting is!
Email hosting is a service in which a provider stores your email messages and files on their servers. The email hosting market is a crowded one, offering everything from free hosting services to expensive packages bundled with other tools. You can also host your own email, taking your data out of the hands of a third party and making sure that it’s truly yours. But if your only exposure to email is through a user-friendly inbox, be prepared for what lies beneath.
In this blog, we’ll explore everything you’ll want to know about email hosting so that you can determine whether a DIY approach or a professional email hosting service is right for your business.
If you came across this looking for an affordable way to get professional email for your business, try Titan for free! If you want to learn more about email hosting, read on.
We’re all familiar with email clients. An email client is a program used to interface with email, so that you can view your inbox and compose messages – think Outlook and Gmail. But the actual sending and receiving of messages, as well as the storage of emails and shared files, happens through an email host.
Using a series of protocols, email hosting enables a message to be routed from one email client at an IP address to another client at another IP address, and then for that message to be stored on the recipient’s email server. It’s what allows you to access your email from your laptop, phone, or tablet. Without an email host, your email address has nowhere to direct the messages.
If you’re using a free service like Gmail or Yahoo for your personal email, you’ve probably never considered how it’s hosted. And why should you? Sign up for the service, start sending and receiving emails, and move on with your life. But if you’re a business sending invoices and other sensitive data, you need to know that your email is secure and that support is readily available.
Here’s a look at your options for email hosting.
A free email service will host your email and let you send and receive email and manage your accounts. While the cost is right and the storage might be enough for your personal needs, there are a bunch of negatives when it comes to using free email hosting for business.
With a free email hosting service, you get stuck using the provider’s domain for your email address. Besides looking cheap, you’re risking your credibility by using a firstname.lastname@example.org address. You’re also taking a risk with security, as protection is typically weaker than a business requires and if your service goes down, it will be tough to get support on the phone.
If you’re willing to take the hit to your credibility, risk the vulnerabilities, and think there’s enough storage with a free email hosting plan, check out these providers:
The biggest business selling point for professional email hosting just might be a custom domain. But depending on the package, there is a whole slew of other reasons for a business to pay for professional email hosting. Reliable service and support, more storage space, file sharing capabilities, and advanced antivirus and spam protection are all reasons to spend a few bucks on email hosting.
Of course, the number of bucks you spend will depend on the provider. Pay attention to what you’re actually paying for as many email hosting packages will bundle in tools and jack up the price. Here are a few worth checking out.
If you have your own servers, you can host your own email. While hosting your own email gives you more control, it certainly has its disadvantages. Servers are not cheap and you’ll need a system admin to maintain them. It’s also on you to back up your email data, make sure your messages are not being marked as spam, and ensure that everything is secure. If you do want to go this route, here’s what you need to know.
For starters, you need a server, a business-class connection with open ports, and an IP address that isn’t blacklisted. You’ll also need a domain name. With your own server, you need to consider the cost of the hardware, the network capacity limits, the amount of storage, and the software you’ll need to make it all work.
There are also a handful of applications and protocols needed to send, receive, and deliver emails:
Mail Transfer Agent – MTA is a server program that transfers emails from one server to another.
Mail Delivery Agent – MDA is a server program that accepts incoming emails and distributes them to recipients’ individual mailboxes.
Mail User Agent – MUA, also known as an email client, is a program used to read, compose, and send email. Essentially, the MUA is the interface between the user and MTA.
Linux – The most universally accessible and configurable operating system for email hosting.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol – SMTP is the de facto standard protocol for email delivery. Once an email is sent, SMTP routes a message from the sender’s server to the recipient’s server. Whether or not the message is delivered depends on the SMTP’s ability to query the domain name system (DNS) to find the recipient’s address and determine if that domain has a mail exchange (MX) record.
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions – MIME is an Internet standard that helps extend the capabilities of email by allowing images, sounds, and text to be included in a message.
Post Office Protocol 3 – POP3 is a text-based communication protocol that retrieves email from a server. POP3 emails are downloaded from the server and stored on the device you use to send and receive emails. POP3 gives you the ability to read emails offline. However, you may not see all of your emails on all devices because they are removed from the server once you download them.
Internet Message Access Protocol – IMAP is a text-based protocol that enables email clients to access remote message stores as if they were local. Therefore, if a user accesses their email account via multiple devices, everything will be in synch.
Mbox – Mbox refers to a family of related file formats that are stored as plain text in a single file.
Maildir – Maildir is an email format is where each message is kept in a separate file with a unique name, and each folder is a directory.
Now that you understand your options, take a closer look at Titan. Titan is the world’s first email product designed to address the specific communication and productivity needs of small businesses. We’ll enable your business to create a custom domain (or port over your existing one) and get up and running on business email in a matter of minutes. Try it out for free for 30 days!
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