Email for Small Business: Hosted or In-House?

No matter what field you’re in – whether you’re an accounting firm of two or a dentist’s office of 20 – chances are the one truly indispensable piece of business technology you use every day is your email. In fact, it’s so indispensible that you probably don’t even think about it … until it doesn’t work.

If you want to make sure your business has reliable access to email that lets you share contacts and doesn’t leave your inbox full of spam, you can’t get by on a free email service like Yahoo or Gmail. They’re great for what they do, but they’re just not as robust as paid versions. And even the mighty Gmail experiences the occasional outage, which is tolerable for personal correspondence but deadly for a business.

In the world of small business email, you have two basic options: a hosted solution or an in-house, server-based version.

Hosted: A hosted email solution means that you pay some third party to take care of an email server and provision storage off-site. In other words, you don’t have to have any equipment in your office, and you don’t have to hire anybody to be your email guru. Instead you treat it like a utility – you pay some set amount every month, usually per email box or unit of data storage.

In-house: An in-house solution means that you do pay for an email server onsite, and you do need to have somebody maintaining that server, creating new accounts and so on. It’s a higher cost up front because you’ve got to pay for the server (and the email client if you’re going with Microsoft Exchange), then you’ve got to install it, and then you have to maintain it once it’s installed. On the other hand, this arrangement can offer a bigger security upside, and you don’t have to worry about your host having an outage. (You just have to worry about your own server conking out.)

What option is best for you will depend on a few things, like:

  • How many users do you have?
  • How often are they on the road, and do they need to access email remotely?
  • What does your cash flow situation look like?
  • How concerned are you about the privacy of your business data?

We’re holding a Webinar next week to talk about what questions you should ask when you’re selecting an email option for your business. Our goal isn’t to push you in one direction or the other – it’s to help you refine your own criteria so that you can decide what’s best for you. We’d love to have you involved in what’s sure to be a lively and informative discussion!   Click here to register.  Our Webinar on small business email will be held Thursday, May 27th at noon Central time.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Courtney, first of all, I wanted to say that this is a very timely article. Time and time again, I see a small business owner who complains that they aren’t getting quality leads, but they are using a generic ISP address for e-mail.

    A unique e-mail adress that resides on your server, or with a hosted SBS provider not only promises more stability, but also makes your name stand out to prospective customers. A unique domain name and email address i.e. Courtney@courtneyswidgets.com will make a better impression than Courtney@genericfreeisp.com

    If any of your readers are interested in learning more about the Microsoft Options, I’ll provide a link below.

    Microsoft Small Business Center/Online Services:
    http://smb.ms/bVYiRU

    Cheers,
    Rebecca
    The Microsoft SMB Outreach Team
    v-renewk@microsoft.com

  2. […] Learn more regarding Email for Small Business:  Hosted or In-House by visiting CMIT’s Blog at:  https://cmitsolutions.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/email-for-small-business-hosted-or-in-house/ […]

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