A word about protocols
Further down this guide, we'll talk about specific email services that you should look into before finalizing your email host, but before we get there, you should know a little more about some of the more common email protocols that various hosts have in place with their email plans.
The first one is POP3.
POP3, or Post Office Protocol version 3, is a mail protocol that is used to receive emails from a server to an email client. It allows the download of messages from the server to your computer, and you can read them even when you are not connected to the internet. Once you download them, they essentially are moved from the server to your machine, so if you happen to delete them from your email-reading software or application, they'll be lost forever. This protocol is not intended for use from different locations or devices, but it is great for conserving server space.
IMAP, or Internet Message Access Protocol, allows you to access email on a remote server from a local machine. While POP3 uses a system of access from one place, IMAP allows you to access the server simultaneously by different machines. This makes IMAP better suited to providing email access to multiple users.
Your decision tree
For businesspeople, you will probably want a clean, professional way to communicate with contacts and clients. For private individuals or solo workers, you're probably trying to sell something online, or perhaps you're in the process of developing your brand. Both these cases in point will need a reliable email service, ample resources at their disposal, and a domain at which their email accounts can be hosted.
When choosing from amongst different email hosting companies, watch out for those that say they can do it all. Provisioning professional and performant email solutions is not easy, and it takes a long time to develop expertise in this area.
Email-specific features and services that you definitely want to have include webmail access, advanced spam filtering, the ability to host numerous accounts, domain ownership for at least a year, easy setup, and POP3 plus IMAP support. Some hosts, such as eHost, even let you keep your domain forever, even after your contract is over.
Custom email addresses at your new domain, email forwarding tools, auto-responders, and virus protection are other features that you should look into. However, if price is a concern, there are cheaper options available as well, but keep in mind that you'll have to sacrifice in terms of services or features if you want an email host that is on the cheaper side.
Beyond just services, certain email hosts boast capabilities many others do not. As an example, InMotion offers a great deal of procession speed, storage space, RAM, and cutting-edge solid state drives (SSDs) that are up to 20 times faster than conventional hard drives, and they have dedicated server plans that are truly top of the line.
How to choose
The email host you choose will really depend on your needs. There are plans that are tailored for, and optimized to, the type of work that small businesses do. However, this work may vary drastically from the type of work that private folks do, or that enterprise-level companies need to do. So you'll find that there are not only business plans out there but there are small business plans, banking plans, enterprise plans, private plans, and lots of different plans for different needs in the middle as well.
What you should try to find is a host that provides:
- A free domain name to go along with unlimited email accounts
- IMAP and POP3 support
- Advanced virus protection, spam filtering
- Webmail access, the ability to set up auto-responders
- Reliable tech support that is available around the clock
You are the go-to person when it comes to deciding what is and what isn't needed by your website or your organization when it comes to email. If you know the email-specific features you need, and have a budget in mind, you'll be able to find a host that provides you with the right set of tools and features that you need to have a professional, and effective, email system in place. Visit our review pages to learn more about the top hosts on the market, or send us a message describing your needs and one of our tech staff will help you select the plan that is right for you.