Managing email has become a nightmare for many businesses. Bloated inboxes, never-ending backups and unfindable emails waste employees' time and patience.
Luckily, there are several proven alternatives to running your own email server. The easiest option is to pay someone else to do it for you. Web hosting companies can take your email accounts from your email server to their data centres from around $14 per account. These hosted email providers screen out all viruses and other malware from their email servers on your behalf which means higher levels of protection than the typical small business could afford.
They also filter out spam and junk emails in the data centre and only pass on relevant emails. Over 90 percent of emails are spam, and letting all that unwanted correspondence hit your email server can clog up your internet connection.
Most hosted email providers will automatically back up your email accounts, saving you another unpleasant task. These data centres are highly secure with redundant measures in place in case of fire, flood or other natural disaster. Some services will back up hosted emails to another data centre for an added measure of protection.
MICROSOFT V GOOGLE
While hosted providers can take away the pain of managing email, they tend to be expensive compared to newer options from the IT vendors themselves. Two heavyweights fighting for business email accounts are Microsoft and Google. Microsoft sells its Exchange Online service through Telstra’s T-Suite online store.
Exchange Online generally provides greater storage for a much lower cost, at 25 gigabytes for under $10 per user. Exchange Online fits nicely with other Microsoft software on T-Suite, including document sharing and productivity (SharePoint Online), instant messaging (Office Communications Online) and web conferencing (Live Meeting). Telstra can also sync emails in Exchange Online to your Blackberry for an extra fee. Users are billed monthly but have to sign for minimum one-year contracts. The tight integration between Microsoft’s online services means that if you sign up for Exchange Online you can trial other services for 30 days without needing to install extra hardware.
Google’s Google Apps platform is a different proposition. It offers a greater number of applications under one fee (though many are more basic than those offered by Microsoft). The standard Gmail (email) account is free and comes with approximately 7.5 gigabytes of storage. A premium account with 25 gigabytes costs US$50 per user a year. Each Google Apps user gets email, video conferencing, calendar, intranets and instant messaging as part of the package. Google’s answer to Microsoft Office - an online word processor, spreadsheet, presentation creator, drawing tool and a form builder - is also included. While it is far cheaper than Microsoft Office, Google’s productivity suite lacks many advanced formatting and other features that some may depend on.
Both Microsoft and Google filter viruses and spam and back up emails as part of their email services. IT companies will happily help you transfer accounts from your email server to Google or Microsoft’s service, and the only thing you need worry about is clearing your inbox.