Email addresses....Free one or paid one?
Your email is just as important as any of your other IT services, so you will want to make sure you’re getting the best value for money, as well as the best possible service. There are lots of free email options out on the market (Gmail, Hotmail etc.), and those offered free by your ISP (BT, TalkTalk, AOL etc), but does it make sense to use them if you’re running a business or want to change your ISP?
Paying for an email service means that you can easily send & receive emails through your own domain name, so you can have a professional email address like firstname.lastname@example.org. It makes your company look professional, and it will make your service seem more credible. If you’ve already got a website, then you should be able to get an email address to match. Don’t join those I’ve seen who advertise a website and then a free email address; it looks so tacky.
If you pay to host your email through private server hosting, or through a service like Google Apps or Office 365 then you will also get a more reliable service compared to free email hosting. You will also have dedicated customer service and support; plus, the server you choose to host with most likely has higher security in place. Additionally, services like Office 365 offer extras such as cloud storage, and email access on the go, which can be particularly useful if you need to access your email remotely.
The big pro with a free service is that the service is free, and if you’re a small business who doesn’t rely heavily on emails to get in touch with clients or customers, then you can most likely get by for a while by using a free email client. You don’t necessarily have to live with a @gmail.com or @hotmail.com domain either. Gmail easily lets you use their system to send emails from your own domain, however you need to have your domain set up to handle this. You can usually use the free email services that your DNS offers (usually limited to one free email address) to set up the initial server and then filter it through Gmail, Yahoo or whatever free service you want to use. However, these free services aren’t as secure, and you’ll have to live with adverts in and around your emails. What’s more, if you’re on a free service, then your email may not be routed with priority.
If you’re a small business, the attraction of a free email service might be the fact that you don’t have to deal with the cost of running an email server. However, it can cost very little to host email. Some private servers can cost just a few pounds a month, and full packages such as Google Apps or Office 365 cost between £5 and £10 per month, so cost should never be a factor when it comes to ensuring the best email service for you!
The choice as always, is yours, but if you think you need advice, you know where to come.
Added: 3rd March 2020