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.


SCAM ALERT! Tax-Related Email Scams

Phishers and Internet scammers are always coming up with innovative new ways to separate victims from their money. One of their favorite tactics is to prey on victims’ fears about taxes by posing as the IRS. It’s natural to worry if you get an email from somebody purporting to be the IRS, particularly in the month of January when you’re probably receiving a lot of legitimate communications from your employer and the IRS about filing. Here are a couple of tax scams that at first glance might seem official. Don’t be fooled!

The “underreported income” threat. This scam features an email accusing the recipient of having underreported their income. The sender attaches what they say is a copy of their relevant page of their tax return. The “attachment” is actually an executable file that downloads a malicious file to the user’s machine.

The “Making Work Pay” scam. This phishing email uses the Making Work Pay provision of last year’s stimulus package to entice people into giving up their personal information. The email asks the recipient to go to a website and fill out a form so that the IRS can deposit money into their bank account. In reality, the Making Work Pay provision does not directly provide funds to taxpayers; instead, it gives wage earners a tax credit in the form of reduced withholding. This is nothing but an attempt by identity thieves to get your personal information.

The “refund” scam. This oldie but goodie promises the recipient a quick and easy tax refund if they provide their personal information and details about their financial institution. Instead of getting a tax refund, the victim risks serious damage to their credit by identity thieves.

Note that all of these scams arrive by email. Many of them will direct the victim to a web page or form that looks official and credible. Don’t fall for it! The IRS never discusses official tax matters over the Internet – they use the good old-fashioned US Postal Service if they want to reach you. If you get an email that purports to be from the IRS, do not open any attachments or click on any links. Forward it to, then delete the email from your inbox. And if you have any doubt about an email’s legitimacy, you can always send it on to us at to get our expert opinion.