Now you have a website, what are your email choices?
No doubt you have noticed that many businesses have email addresses that are the same as their domain name – eg www.wavingmoose.com and email@example.com. For some small businesses and sole traders there is some confusion about what this means in relation to their existing email. This briefing is intended to give you some basic information about email and the options open to you when you have a domain of your own.
1. What are the different types of email address?
There are three main types of email :
1) The one you get with your internet service provider (ISP) and this comes with your own inbox to receive e-mails. These emails are received and stored on your own PC or device via your mail package (eg Outlook). They will have addresses like @btinternet.com or @virginmedia.com etc.
2) Web-based email, eg Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail. These work in the same way but emails are stored and accessed via the web using your web browser. They will have addresses like @yahoo.co.uk or @gmail.com.
3) Domain name email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, which are available to people who have registered a domain name.
2. Domain Name Email
These can be set up and accessed in two different ways
a) Forwarders – Addresses are set up to automatically redirect all email sent to them to your existing email address. They arrive in your inbox like any other and you reply from there. Forwarding services don’t store your email, you just use your ISP email address to act as the receiver and sender account. In essence, you are not replacing your email address, you are having a new one that acts as a ‘front’ and would be used on all your communications.
This is by far the simplest approach, it doesn’t involve you managing any other account and is free with your hosting. Note that your email reply will always come from your ISP email address (eg email@example.com or, like mine, firstname.lastname@example.org). If you want your email replies to show as coming from your domain email address (eg email@example.com), then you will need an additional web server mailbox to receive and send (see next).
b) Dedicated Mailbox – gives you a separate mailbox on your web server which lets you access emails through a web based interface, or download the messages using your email client, eg Outlook, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, MacMail etc.
There are different protocols that can be used for this purpose – POP3, IMAP and Microsoft Exchange. Before you can decide which to use, it’s important to understand the differences between the three major ways email gets delivered to your inbox, as well as the pros and cons of each service – outlined below.
Please note that Waving Moose hosting can provide Forwarders and POP3 or IMAP, not Microsoft Exchange.
POP3 (Post Office Protocol, version 3) was the first major email protocol that was universally adopted when the Internet became pervasive in the 1990s. A POP-based email service is simple: your email client (such as Outlook, MacMail, or Thunderbird) connects to the mail server and then downloads your emails directly to the computer. The downloaded email is then deleted from the server (though most have a setting to alter this).
● Cheap – no licenses required.
● Universal adoption – supported by virtually all devices.
● Simple to implement and configure.
● If a server fails you do not lose all your emails as they have been downloaded locally.
● The inbox is your only folder on the server (you manage your email folders in your local client only).
● If you access your mail on different devices, you’ll see different emails depending on what is being managed on which device.
IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) is the second major iteration of how people access their email. It has all the functions of POP3, but messages are left on the server and can be synced between multiple devices. This allows you to have the same email experience between devices because all your emails (incoming and outgoing) are stored directly on the server, rather than downloaded directly to your computer. If you use Gmail, for instance, you’re using IMAP.
● Cheap – no licenses required (but more expensive than POP3 – see below)
● Universal adoption – supported by virtually all devices.
● Email syncing. All messages, including sent messages, are saved on the server.
● Folders on the server to organise your inbox.
● Requires more space on the server which costs more.
● You have to remember to manage your email on the server – it is easy to run out of inbox space if you never delete emails.
● Folders on the server can get duplicated if not set up properly.
● Because all emails are stored on the server, if you have not backed them up locally, if the server fails then you’ve lost all your emails.*
* BACKUP – There is no automatic back up function for email. You need to manually back up your email on your own computer by following your mail client instructions or buy a back up tool.
Microsoft Exchange / Microsoft Office 365 is a proprietary platform developed by Microsoft. It requires the purchase of user or server licences. Traditionally, it has been marketed to the Enterprise-level consumer and offers all the functionality of IMAP but also has other features to help businesses and organisations better collaborate among employees and staff.
Features such as shared address books & calendars, shared file storage, and native integration with other Microsoft products like SharePoint and Office.
● Complete email syncing – instead of downloading an email, a copy is created on your device while the original stays on the server.
● Folder support to organise emails.
● Sent messages are saved on the server.
● Native integration with most Microsoft products.
● Offers many collaborative tools to enable team members to share resources like calendars and documents.
● Expensive – user and server licenses have to be purchased for each user.
● Upgrades aren’t free on Exchange: Microsoft releases a new version every 1 to 3 years and requires you to purchase new licenses to use it. (You can avoid this by purchasing Microsoft Office 365 accounts instead).
● Setup and maintenance requires specialised knowledge.
MICROSOFT EXCHANGE SUITED MORE TO:
● Those working in a team environment and who require collaborative tools such as shared contacts and calendars, shared file storage, and/or who use many other Microsoft products.
● Organisations who want full control of the email server.
● Organisations with technical expertise available to manage and maintain it (or a reliable technical partner that they ‘buy-in’).
Not as simple as you might hope is it?
To be honest, I am all for simplicity. I personally have used Yahoo Mail for about 15 years and have never had cause to change. Gmail these days is extremely popular as well, simple and reliable.
I have a domain name email (firstname.lastname@example.org) that simply forwards to my Yahoo account. Have you noticed? Do you think less of me now?
If you need any further help or advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch.