Putting together your first email address at a domain you own is a pretty satisfying feeling. While webmail services like Yahoo and Gmail have come a long way over the years, there’s still something to be said for a personalized, professional email address.
Most best web hosting providers offer some kind of email service, but there are plenty of standalone options, too. These will come in handy for people that do want a unique email address, but don’t want a site, or in case you’re hosting your own website: server hardware is expensive to buy and maintain. Because of that, an inexpensive way to host an email service makes sense for some businesses.
Whether you fit into the business category or you just need a little more than Yahoo or Google can offer, an inexpensive email hosting plan will spiffy up your presentation. For something that seems so simple, though, there are a few things to look out for and so ensure the best possible experience.
What Makes an Email Hosting Service the Best?
While email hosting is fairly straightforward, there were a few things we looked at when choosing providers. The first was that each provider gave you enough space in your inbox. You’ll still have to filter through and clear it out from time to time, but missing messages because you ran out of storage is about the worst thing that can happen when it comes to email.
Next, we looked at compatibility. Webmail isn’t ideal for most, so it was important that each provider was compatible with desktop email clients. While some kind of browser interface is available for each, so is the option to add it to Outlook, Thunderbird or whatever client you fancy.
Email hosting has gone far beyond just an email address and a mailbox, though, so we looked at any extras the provider could throw in. G Suite, for example, comes with a line of fully featured business software, built around the core of email hosting.
Last, but not least, we took cost into account. Email hosting should be pretty inexpensive and there are few ways to justify a price hike outside of bundling software. Because of that, all the providers on this list stay around a few bucks per user, per month.
Gmail has over a billion active users, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the email market. The power behind the service is strong, with a suite of tools, named Drive, for managing your schedule, creating spreadsheets and drafting documents (which you can read about in our Google Drive review).
The only difference between Drive and G Suite is that it works under your domain. You still get the user-friendly Drive interface, but with professional email addresses for you and your team. There’s no forwarding to a Gmail account or any nonsense like that; this is full email hosting.
It’s also completely compatible with Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird and more, so you can choose a different client if you’d like. However, with Gmail applications available for nearly any device and offline syncing available, there’s no real reason to opt for something else.
For the skeptics, the difference between regular Gmail and G Suite is quite staggering. You get an email at your domain, yes, but also unlimited group email addresses, twice the storage of regular Google Drive, zero ads and round-the-clock support.
Other Reasons We Like G Suite
We want to emphasize that G Suite is basically just Google Drive for business (though not a full EFSS provider). You save your files on Drive, add them to emails as links instead of attachments and update both in real time. It’s like the Google tools you’ve used before, but integrated to work within the confines of your team. For the ins and outs, we recommend you give our Google Drive guide a read.
It’s cheap, too. Plans start at only a few dollars per month, per user. Google charges for each additional user, yes, but not for additional email addresses. For example, “[email protected]” would cost extra, while “[email protected]” would not. You also get 30GB of storage space, to boot.
While businesses will see the greatest benefit from G Suite, there’s still plenty for individuals here. Prices are inexpensive for how much you’re getting, and Google’s keen eye for usability shines through. Try it out for yourself with a free 14-day trial. If it’s mostly the storage space you’re interested in, we recommend you read our best cloud storage buyers guide.
- Easy to use
- Drive suite
- 24/7 support
- Not as practical for individuals
- Not a full EFSS solution
Zoho has adapted its popular email hosting service to provide a suite of applications alongside options like G Suite. The catch is that Zoho is cheaper and even offers a free plan with support for up to 25 users.
Let’s start there. The free plan offers up to 25 users at base, with an additional 25 gained through referral bonuses. Email addresses can be from a single domain, with 5GB of space per user and a 20MB attachment limit.
So, the plan isn’t ideal, but it’s also free. This is the biggest difference between Zoho and G Suite, as a plan like this caters to those who are looking for single domain email hosting and nothing else. Some extra vigilance is required to keep your inbox tidy, but it’s still the best way to get a professional address for free.
Paid plans are a few dollars cheaper than G Suite and even integrate with the platform. You have more limitations like 30GB for storage and 30MB for attachments, but these are easy to overlook considering the how inexpensive it is.
Other Reasons We Like Zoho
So far, we’ve discussed what’s known as “Workspace,” a bundle of nine applications that Zoho offers, including email. Most of these are standard office applications, but some miscellaneous ones like ShowTime, a web-conferencing tool for virtual training, are included as well.
The impressive part about Zoho is not in Workspace, but in every other application it offers. There are tools in categories ranging from sales to IT to customer service, catering to nearly any business. The company also offers an accounting program, which we’ve covered in our Zoho Books review
While each of the tools costs extra, the ability to put everything in one place is what makes Zoho so special. You can build a website, do online training or even manage your books, all in a single spot.
- Free plan
- Massive list of applications
- Limited storage space
- Interface is meh
RackSpace offers a wide variety of cloud hosting solutions, but ditches the bundles in favor of streamlined email hosting. It offers hosting for Office 365, Exchange and its own RackSpace Email platform.
Basically, its services are based around moving your server to the cloud. RackSpace aims to cut the local server out of business email, utilizing a network of servers to free up space, reduce costs and provide better overall performance.
While costs are quite high compared to other email providers, you’re getting a lot of value here. Exchange servers, for example, run a few dollars more per user, but offer 100GB mailboxes and 50MB attachments, double or triple the size of all providers on this list.
Other Reasons We Like RackSpace
It’s clear that the focus is on businesses and, for that, RackSpace delivers. The Office 365 plan, for example, comes with the full version of Microsoft’s suite, with 24/7/365 Fanatical Support.
If you’ve never heard of that term, no one would fault you. This RackSpace definition of support means that you have access to a team of top-quality staff, eager to solve any issues you may encounter. There’s no script or department hopping, but instead a knowledge team of support, responding to all inquiries in 15 minutes or less.
RackSpace is far more expensive, but provides comprehensive business solutions in and outside of email. It’s hard to argue with, especially with clients like Under Armour and Oliver Wight on the list. If you need top-notch business hosting, it’s best to try out RackSpace.
- Excellent support
- 100% uptime
- Deep integration into Microsoft Office
Riding on the back of G Suite is an application bundle from Microsoft. Change out the Google line of tools with Microsoft Office and Outlook, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Business Essentials can offer.
However, the two are not fully on par. Office 365 is slightly more expensive, but offers applications that can do far more than the Google suite. You get Outlook and Exchange, allowing you to craft emails far beyond what Google Drive can do. This includes up to 150MB in attachment sizes and 50GB of storage space, up over Google’s 30GB size on its most inexpensive plan.
The downside is that you only have access to the online version of Microsoft Office. While that’s not an issue when compared to G Suite, it is when considering how limited Office Online applications are. The best variant of Office 365 comes with the full version of Microsoft Office.
Other Reasons We Like Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials
Outside of email, business essentials offers a comprehensive toolset for businesses. One of our favorites is Microsoft Teams. On the surface, this looks like a simple messaging app like Slack, but offers much more.
Skype meetings and Microsoft documents integrate seamlessly into it, allowing you to keep everything that has to do with team under one roof. You don’t need to add attachments or install plugins like other team messaging applications. As long as you work in the Microsoft ecosystem, it’s a great team solution.
Teams isn’t all you get, of course. Microsoft includes team Skype functionality, Yammer as a corporate social network and online conferencing tools as well. While the toolset isn’t breaking much new ground, the integration across platforms is something special. You can sign up for a free trial of Business Essentials to see if it’s right for you.
- Integration across platforms
- Access to Outlook & Exchange
Liquid Web is mainly focused on high quality VPS and dedicated hosting solutions. However, it also offers competitively priced email hosting as well, with zero downtime, top-notch spam filtering and 25GB mailboxes.
While the storage space is lower, it’s hard to pass up considering the cost. The standard plan only costs $1 per month, per user and offers the full range of Liquid Web features. You’ll be able to use any POP or IMAP mail client, or login through webmail with 25GB of storage and 50MB attachments.
You also get tools for keeping your email streamlined and free of spam. Adjustable filters allow you to tailor what gets through, but Liquid Web’s spam block is quite good on its own. Additionally, you can make user and domain level safelists and blacklists to keep your inbox looking the way you want.
Other Reasons We Like Liquid Web
However, it offers far more than email hosting. Liquid Web is a fully featured host, with plans ranging from VPS to WordPress (though didn’t make it onto our best web hosting for WordPress list). While plans are pretty expensive, the targeted business market will be happy with free security features and exceptional support.
Email comes some extra features too. The slightly more expensive “Plus” plan comes with mobile sync across your devices for contacts and calendars, 30GB of cloud storage and a suite of online document editing tools. If you’re more inclined to the Microsoft end of the spectrum, Liquid Web offers Exchange hosting as well.
Nothing stands out as exceptional at Liquid Web as far as email hosting goes, but it doesn’t need to. The biggest draw is that the service is inexpensive and always works, providing plenty of storage space and options. It’s next to free, so try it out for a month to see if it’s right for you.
- Large attachment sizes
- Lacks a winning feature
While webmail services like Gmail and Yahoo have come a long way, there is no substitute for a professional email address. Thankfully, costs have gone down significantly with monthly plans coming in cheaper than buying a soda.
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Many of the providers include email with the hosting, so you can kill two birds with one stone. What email host do you like best? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.