Email Hosting for Small Businesses

You likely had an email address before you started your business, with a popular email provider like Gmail from Google, or another service like Yahoo or Hotmail.

These email addresses end in @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, or @hotmail.com. They’re free, easy to use, and meet the needs of most people when it comes to speed and inbox storage space.

You may feel inclined to use one of these email providers after starting your business since they’re familiar and free, but it’s a smart idea to learn more about email hosting and how to use it as your business grows.

What is email hosting?

As Techopedia explains,

“Email hosting is a Web or Internet hosting service which rents out and operates email servers.”

Access to the email server gives you your own domain, more reliable service, and a larger amount of inbox space capable of handling a lot of email traffic.

Sound familiar? This is similar to web hosting. In the same way that a web hosting company rents space to you on their servers for you to set up a website, email hosting providers run email servers you pay to access.

The benefits of email hosting

Email hosting can provide you with a custom address, like hello@yourcompany.com. This is important when you want to distinguish your brand and stand out as a legitimate, sustainable company (especially if you want to explore email marketing).

Not to mention, as you add contractors or even employees to your team, you’ll want to provide them with their own company email address.

Email hosting also provides you with greater security and customer service. As you grow, you take more responsibility for keeping customer and partner emails secure (and you may need some backup and tech support as you receive more and more messages).

Understanding POP3 and IMAP

There are two main email hosting protocols: POP3 and IMAP.

POP3, or Post Office Protocol Version 3, downloads email from the email hosting server to your local device. It does not sync emails, so your inbox may look different if you first check it on your computer, then your smartphone.

IMAP, or Internet Message Access Protocol, synchronizes all your email folders from a central server. Your email looks the same, no matter what device you check it on.

POP3 is better for super-secure email, but you need to back up and sync your messages. IMAP is better if you use multiple devices, since it will sync for you, but can cause privacy concerns since everything comes from a central server.

If you do use POP3, it’s important to have a plan for how you will keep email consistent across all your devices. Also, note that most default POP3 settings erase emails from the server after you initially download them to one device. You may want to change this setting, so you can access the server and retrieve emails again.

Where to get your own email hosting

Ready to get started? There are countless options out there – and it can quickly get overwhelming to choose a single one that’s right for you. Here’s where to start:

  • Gsuite (previously known as Google Apps): Already familiar with Gmail? Using all things Google? Upgrade to Gsuite and continue to use all your favorite Google tools for only $50/year.
  • Office365: Similarly, if you already use and like Microsoft, get their email hosting (plus a suite of other useful tools). Prices start at $4/month, per user.
  • Vistaprint Digital: Already set up with Vistaprint Digital for your website and digital marketing needs? Make life easier, more streamlined, and less complicated by using the free custom email addresses that come with two of the available website packages.

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