A common question I get from new and existing clients is, “Should we use a separate email provider or should we use the email services provided by our web host?” There isn’t always a simple answer, but in most cases, you are better off having a separate email provider. In this article, I’m going to explore a few reasons why separating your email from your web hosting is often a smart idea.
Yes, we live in a world where everyone sends text messages, but most businesses still rely heavily on email for nearly all levels of client and internet correspondence. Most web hosting companies focus on web hosting, not necessary email services. Yes, most email hosting packages provide a bundled email package, but email isn’t the always the priority of the hosting company… hosting is. In addition, if you have your hosting and email on the same server and that server goes down both your web site and your email are down. With email hosted separately, you can still communicate with clients and customers, even during web site outages.
In most cases, a company that is dedicated to providing email as their flagship service will be more security and privacy minded than bundled hosting packages. Businesses communicate with email constantly and sometimes those emails may contain sensitive information that you want to trust sitting on a server that doesn’t belong to you. Remember that email in itself is probably one of the least secure ways of communicating. The content of the emails are often stored in plain text and relay through several servers before reaching its destination. Choosing a reputable email hosting provider can give you a little more peace of mind when it comes to how that data is handled, secured and stored.
Typically, changing web hosting providers is more frequent than the need to change email providers. Maybe you need more powerful web hosting technologies. Or maybe you’ve got a brand new web site that requires a different type of hosting environment. These and other scenarios will likely require you to change web hosting providers. If you host your email with a separate provider then changing web hosts will not affect your email at all. No downtime and no hassles in having to transfer email accounts, setup new accounts, or backup emails.
If you’re currently using your web host’s email services and want to take the step to move your email to another provider, the process is usually quite simple. (I want to stress again that there are some web hosting providers that provide solid and dependable email, so you may not need to take the leap, but in most cases, there are significant advantages to having a separate email provider as outlined above.)
There are tons of email providers out there that offer quality email hosting at affordable rates. One of my favorites is FastMail. I have personal experience using manu other email service providers. Google’s G-Suite can be attractive because it offers not only email but other office related services between $5 and $10 per month per user. Microsoft’s Office 365 is another popular service similar to Google’s offerings. For the more privacy minded user there is ProtonMail (and FastMail). There are more out there, but these are some of the major players. You may want to search around and explore different email solutions.
So, the first step is to choose the email provider that best meets your needs. Many of these providers offer a free trial so that you can test them out. Many of them also provide free email migration services that will move all of your emails for all of your users with the push of a button.
Lastly, once you’ve decided on the best email provider you’ll need to make a small change to your domain name’s records. You’ll need to change the MX (mail exchange) record. This record points all email going to your domain to a particular email server. You can either do this yourself or you can contact your domain registrar for assistance. Once you make the change to the MX record email will begin funneling to your new email provider. Depending on your domain name registrar, the changes to your MX records may be immediate or may take a couple of days to take effect.
As a web developer, I often assist customers in the best strategies for email as well as their online web presence. If you have questions, need help with your web site or would like to see if I’d be a good fit for a new web site please contact me. I’d be glad to talk with you more.
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