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      • Carrie,

        Now you need to correct this line:

        “At $5/month for a single user, Google Apps is a more attractive option than Hover.”

        Anyway, your post is on-target. For the reasons you point out, I always recommend separating hosting and email. Google Apps is my go-to recommendation, Most clients love it since they already use GMail so the comfort factor is there. Plus, in my experience, the Google’s spam filters are way better than what most hosting companies typically offer..

        BTW, just watched your videos on Lynda.com. Great job!!!

  1. Agree here completely. Have some clients using Namecheap hosted email which I think is ~$28/yr for a mailbox. Personally not a fan of Google Apps and there are plenty of other viable options.

    As a sidebar, there is still a caveat– since most of the hosted email solutions usually just require you to create MX records pointing to them, if your DNS goes down, both your website and email will still go down simultaneously.

    Now that I’ve opened that can of worms, there are ways around DNS failures like using multiple DNS services so you have a fallback. But it really depends on how business critical your website and email being online are, and how much you’re willing to spend.

    Grandma’s blog probably doesn’t need all this, but at least she’s smart enough to tell you not to put all your eggs in one basket! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Having experience with Earthlink, Godaddy, Siteground, and Google Apps I recommend siteground for website hosting, Google Apps for email services, and godaddy as the domain registrar. I have dealt with DNS, zone files, MX records, and nameservers for a while so I am comfortable. I am not comfortable with my clients changing these settings.

    • Hi, I totally agree about that configuring MX-records are really messy. Especially if you need to configure SPF/DKIM and stuff as well. Being a freelancer I handle setting up email for my clients quite often and I used to go for fastmail.com as well previously, now however I use https://flaskmail.com, a quite new email service that allows you to set up email on new domains automatically and without configuring DNS. And if you or a client already have a domain you can transfer it to iwantmyname.com and set up Flaskmail automatically from their awesome app market.

  3. Here’s another +1 for separating email from DNS and from hosting. It so happens that I DO use Google Apps for Business (or whatever Google is calling it this week) for my companies and we are very satisfied with it. The shared calendaring is terrific
    for collaboration with co-workers.

  4. Spot on Carrie. I tell this to at least one client per week. I’ve been using Google Apps for Business for a while now and am quite happy with it. Can be a bit cumbersome to get set up, but once you do, it works like a champ. And most cPanel installs now come with a Google Apps setup button to make creating MX records simple.

  5. Having worked w small businesses to setup their websites and email since 1996, the transition to emails NOT being part of hosting has been gradual but necessary. I think I’ve experienced every issue you mentioned over the years. The toughest part has been convincing small business owners to invest money to get email regularly instead of dealing w developing issues from “free” hosting based email. Even email has evolved. I am relieved to no longer be viewed as an ad hoc IT person. The complexity of accessing email with mobile devices finally put the nail in coffin.

    • Right on, Theresa. Checking mail across multiple devices definitely added a layer of complexity. I don’t know when IMAP was introduced, but seems there was a window when I made ESP decisions based on availability of IMAP.

      • iMap’s been available since1986 (via Stanford Uni). It wasn’t so much web hosting didn’t support it as email clients either didn’t support it or didn’t support it well. The various flavours of Outlook – especially the Express versions – took a long time to get it right.

  6. I’m not disagreeing, but pretty much every time I migrate a website, I break the email. And it’s usually because they’re using a different host. I swear I’ll get it right some day!

  7. Now I’m going to have to figure out a different way to write this post. ๐Ÿ˜› I was working on this. Anyway, I use Google Apps for Whatever and have been since 09, simpy because bundled email and hosting is a bad idea. I’m now working on convincing others why it’s bad and have done several separations/migrations over the last couple months. yay DNS, MX entries and Cname aliuses where appropriate.

  8. Hey Carrie, I’ve set up clients who have a really small budget with ZohoMail. It’s free for 10 addresses at 5gb each. It’s got a nice interface for webmail as well.

    The only con I’ve noticed is its spam filter is a bit harsh, so if the user prefers to have mail forwarded to their personal Gmail, they miss some business email.

    Thanks for this though, as I was feeling a little inadequate for how much I hated dealing with this, but glad I’m not alone. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’ve only had great experiences with Zoho. Though the admin interface isn’t the most intuitive, they have tons of online documentation.

  9. +1 for Google Apps. I am using it with my domain registered through Hover. I couldn’t agree more about messing with DNS zones. Since I don’t do that everyday – it is something I am bound to get wrong the first time. Just yesterday I learned that it is better to edit the A record to point to your new web host vs changing the Nameservers. Doing that will definitely mess up your existing email settings.

  10. I now refuse host email setup to my clients. If they want it, they are on their own. I usually explain the same stuff as this post… maybe i’ll just send them here now ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. What about something like Google Apps or Office 365 that is easily client-managed, but that is HIPAA compliant? Anyone know of any solutions for this? Dealing w/ this right now (after cleaning up a nightmare DNS situation for a client who had their multiple email and website domains and hosting all in one place administrated through cPanel.) I managed to get the sites and domains offloaded, but now I need to tackle the email situation.

  12. Great post, Carrie! We no longer offer email service when we set up hosting for clients, mostly because I don’t want the panicked calls that email issues always create. I am sharing this post!

  13. I agree, but not with your first point: if your sitehost can go down, so can your mail hosting, right? I don’t think that’s a valid point.
    However, i decided some years ago to put my clients on a different host for email. I host their websites on a shared server. Because they each got their own email host, they each got a different ip-address, If one of them gets hacked/blacklisted at least not all my clients suffer the consequences.

  14. Carrie,
    Thanks very much for writing that. I no longer move email accounts, and have that in my FAQ.

    In one case I explained all this to a client, and they got it. They still wanted to keep pop email, so I modded their MX record so they could keep the old host just for email. A bit bizarre, and extra expense for them to have 2 hosts, but it did the trick. ๐Ÿ™‚

    People feel the need to have their email address match their domain. As if no one knows that the whole universe uses forwarders. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So they could also just have forwarders on the new host to their web (or whatever) mail. But I suppose that in a complete host meltdown, the forwarders would be killed, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Dave

  15. Hi Carrie,

    After your initial post about keeping your hosting and email accounts separated I gave my clients the option to go down this path. Most of them ignored the suggestion. However I did get a few people to switch and went with your suggested Hover.

    I did however want to note that when you switch to hover for your email you do need to have your domain name registered with them. Something to consider if you like your current registrar as I did. But not a big deal.

    I will agree that their customer service is great as you can speak to a real human, and they are very helpful when you do get them on the phone. However, when you have clients in another country such as Australia Hover’s service is only available during U.S. business hours – something to consider for those that might require either 24-hour support or support during non-US hours.

    The good news is that you rarely need to contact support as their mail seems to work pretty well. Just something to take into consideration when choosing providers. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Cathy,
      Thanks for the heads up about international customer service – I had my U.S. goggles on and didn’t know about that.

      Since I use Hover as a registrar, I hadn’t noted that email only works with Hover domain registration. Interesting and really a bit of a turnoff.

      I appreciate the info!
      Carrie

      • Not a big turnoff. Hover really rocks! Great tech support and great service. Some people think other services are cheaper. However, they don’t include domain privacy as part of the package. So, when you pay $2.49 for a year of registrar and DNS service and then another $11.00 for domain privacy (which I consider to be essential), the price is usually cheaper at Hover, or pretty much a wash.

        • Why is domain privacy essential?

          a) don’t use your home address
          b) use an email address that is only for whois
          c) use two-factor authentication for that email account
          d) setup email forwarding to your regular email address

          Generally, I am a big proponent of truthful dns records as it is a really basic way to establish trust & identity on the web; there are many ways like the steps above to still protect yourself irl ๐Ÿ™‚

          Plus, $11/y/domain for ‘privacy protection’ is kinda a rip, imho… any really interested party can probably sniff you out anyways so why bother? Spend the money on better hosting instead ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Are you suggesting it is better to NOT not change the nameservers to the web host but to leave them at the registry and just point mail (via MX record) a mail service and the web traffic to the host (CNAME or A record?)

    • Hi Al,
      Domain registration, email service, and hosting service are conceivably three different entities. This post doesn’t get into how you route things (several ways to skin that cat) — just saying it’s a good idea to separate your email provider from your web host.

      Cheers,
      Carrie

  17. Excellent advice Carrie ๐Ÿ™‚

    I often use the idea of separating email services as a way to explain the the server is already handling both the web requests and the database (mentioning that as the client grows we may look at separating the database just like we did with the email… most folks can dig the idea of putting eggs in different ‘baskets’ ๐Ÿ™‚

    For email services:
    1) Google Apps is pretty amazing, an easy way to deliver a lot of functionality with minimal effort…

    2) Rackspace – my personal favorite, works amazingly well at a seriously affordable price point!
    2a) little known fact, you can ask (nicely!!!) to have your domain alias limit raised if needed ๐Ÿ™‚

    3) I’d not recommend Zoho from the little experience I’ve had with them; I’ve never tried Hover

    A further Q for you Carrie (and eveyone ๐Ÿ™‚ – what about WP transactional emails?

    I have been using Mandrill (from MailChimp folks) and have mostly liked it, however have seen some performance issues from the wpMandrill plugin and have recently started playing with the MailGun service (from Rackspace) for transactional emails… so far, MailGun seems to perform a bit better overall, lacks a few easy config options in the plugin options…

    Any thoughts/experience in using services like Mandrill or MailGun?

    (ps, mostly, I work only with wpms)

    Aloha <3

    • Hey Max,
      Thanks for the two cents on the email apps. Several folks have given the +1 to Rackspace, so glad you mention that as well.

      Regarding transaction emails… I haven’t dealt with a site of volume enough to matter. That said, I’ve heard great things about Mandrill, but couldn’t say from any personal experience. Sounds like a blog post you should write and let me know about? ๐Ÿ™‚

      Carrie

      • I’m too busy failing to get everything working to write about it at the moment…

        Eventually I’ll get around to writing about WPMS and some neat server stuff and I’ll be sure to let you know ๐Ÿ™‚

        Aloha, Max

  18. Great article Carrie! Another nice benefit of separating mail hosting from web hosting is that it opens up a lot of web hosting options. Right now my site is on a Digital Ocean droplet. $10/m for my own 1 core, 1 Gb RAM, 30 Gb SSD VPS. It’s actually a lot more horsepower than I need for my site, at shared host pricing. I can manage web server admin stuff, but mail server admin stuff? No way. I gladly pay Google $5/month to manage the mail server side.

  19. Great post Carrie!

    Another advantage to using s specialty mail hosting service is they take spam more seriously, Not the spam you get, though there is that too.

    In a shared server setups I was on, someone using the same mail server as me was a spammer. And my users wound up on blacklists and their mail was bouncing as a result. They weren’t happy.

    In my current VPS setup our server has 6 unshared IP addresses, and it’s running its own mail server. I figured life was good. Until my email started bouncing. It turns out that someone on my network is a spammer, and I got tarred by the same brush because someone on the network was a spammer. As an aside, the server is on a class A subnet, so there are 16 million unique IP addresses in play. The chances are high that someone will be a spammer and will get me blacklisted.

    The professional specialty email hosting services work hard to make sure they, and you, are not spamming or blacklisted. Next time out, I’ll separate the services!

    -Mike

    • Mike,
      Great point… you can get blamed for someone else’s evil. By the same token, if there’s a piggish site on your hosting server, you’ll share the zero uptime. ๐Ÿ™‚ I dumped a host once because they wouldn’t move me to a cleaner server, even when I figured out who the dirtbag was and told the host.

      A good argument for dedicated, VPS, or at least a server that is not as oversold as others!

      Dave

      • Even with VPS you can get punished for the misbehavior of others. Some RBL services block the provider’s subnet. So, yeah, you’re on a VPS or even a dedicated server…. but – who’s on your class B (or, worse yet, class A) subnet?

  20. I use google apps. I have had nervous breakdowns too many times when changing DNS settings. Even when I think I have it perfectly straight, something goes wrong and emails are lost! Hate the process. Definitely agree separating the email and web hosting are a must!

  21. AND I recently had a few sites go down when 1&1 Internet had a DNS issue … because my domain and site are both there. Had my DNS been somewhere else, my sites would not have gone down. I haven’t had a chance yet to look into moving domain registration … again, seems fraught with peril in propagation time, etc. Yikes!

  22. Hi there Carrie! I’m one that adores zone files, DNS and MX records!!! I know..I know..so geeky. Seriously — I’m stellar with those things AND would be geeked to assist you with your next migration. Feel free to get in touch with me.

  23. I’m using Google Apps and I think the best thing about it is that no matter what emails get delivered. I haven’t had a single lost or undelivered email since I made the switch. Perhaps more importantly, neither have my clients who use Google Apps.

  24. People say your domain registrar and webhost should be different companies, same reason above (if the company fails, bye temporarily for both domain and host).

    I had the same company for my domains (50+), webhosting AND e-mail (30 of them are clients, the rest are either mine or “partnerships”) since I got my first domain/hosting: 3,210.

    Just like every service provider, they had their downs (mostly when I am sleeping at 1-3 in the morning. When it happened during live time (9am-midnight), they answered and fixed things within the hour.

    I can go to whateverdomain.com/cpanel and edit all the options I need all in one spot.

    I like it that way. I also get extensions (invoices).

  25. I’m a bit late to this thread. I got a client who has email hosted on Office365. I want to move their website to a different host. I’m assuming it’s just a question of updating the domain’s A record to the new IP address? Does anyone have any experience with Office365 – any pitfalls I should know of?

  26. It might depend on your host, I would ask them to be sure. On my host, there’s another step where I have to check a box saying their email is being handled remotely. I’ve broken clients’ email several times before I finally remembered that step!

  27. I would highly recommend Google, as it is an email client you are likely familiar with. Google currently charges $5 a month per email address, but it is an incredibly easy setup and provides access to all the other suite of tools.

  28. NO NO JUST NO to Google Apps aka big brother and I use right now pobox.com which just got bought out by fastmail.com ugh!

    Zoho has gotten a little bit better when it comes to spam coming out of no where like the problem use to be.

  29. I manage my own domain names with six mailboxes with servermx.com. At the beginning I was reluctant but now after two years I can say they are excellent. Email, Calendar/Task with both my phone and desktop are working very well. I had one problem with Thunderbird an they helped me to fix my config. For my website I use godaddy but maybe I am going to move it, do you have any suggestion?

  30. Hey, listen, Carrie told us over a year ago, it’s a bad idea to mix web and email hosting. And I even agreed with her in an early post.

    And in the best Bubba tradition did nothing about it. So, how bad can it get? Well, pour a glass of something friendly and pull up a chair. (No, it’s not REALLY that long a story unless you move your lips while you read.)

    I was using a shared hosting account for email and web services through JaguarPC (http://www.jaguarpc.com). For $4.95 a month, I was getting email, hosting 6 mailing lists and hosting 5 web sites. 1 on WordPress, 1 legacy site on Doomla!, 3 straight HTML sites. Among other things, I sell cookbooks which I deliver via email. (I’m told I’d save myself a lot of trouble by using the Easy Digital Downloads plugin. I’m told it’s good, comments from users are invited.) But the bottom line is, I need email incoming and outgoing to be able to do business.

    As often happens with shared hosting, someone on the server is a spammer, and that gets the shared email server blacklisted. Jaguar was good about stopping the spamming bastards, but it still took 3 days to get off the lists and get email back to normal. I asked about a private IP address. They were willing, but with some other odds and ends I wanted, the price was too high.

    So, about a year ago I switched to a VPS account at ServerHub (http://www.serverhub.com). Their Low End Box offerings are very good – about $80 a year for 5 IP addresses and a decent server. Adding CPanel will run you another $140 or so a year, and Softaculous is on top of that. Still, for a year, all was good. And then… and then…. our email stopped cold Digging through mxtoolbox (http://mxtoolbox.com is a great service to examine all your email issues) I found a bunch of inept bozos called ZapBL had blacklisted the whole class B subnet we were on. It looked like the offense occurred in 2014, so why we were blacklisted in October 2015 wasn’t clear. It also wasn’t clear why they blocked all 65k addresses in a class B subnet. Heck, those addresses probably belonged to dozens of ISPs and hosting services. Sending a note to ZapBL got no response.

    I asked ServerHub to help. They told me that ZapBL was impossible to work with, they were lazy and used bad practices, like blocking a whole class B subnet. ServerHub gave me a sixth IP address at no cost. I had the great joy of editing my DNS records. The IP address wasn’t on any blacklists that mxtoolbox monitored. However, it was on Verizon’s private blacklist. As expected with any dealings with Verizon, the web form requesting removal was cold, impersonal and had no room for explanations of anything like, “I just got the IP address 2 days ago, I haven’t used it to spam and never will! Cross my heart and hope to spit!” Long story short, they sent a machine generated email that told me they were unwilling to take me off the blacklist.

    I asked ServerHub if I should just throw in the towel and use a dedicated email provider. Their tech guy gave me the name of two services, which I took as a hint. Instead, I went with Hover. They’ve handles my registration and DNS services very well. Their email is $2 a month per account, $5 a year for a forwarder and they have very good anti-spam agents. So, I signed up with Hover and got to edit my DNS records yet again.

    Everything seemed well on day 1. On day 2, things deteriorated. Beth, my wife, couldn’t send emails to contacts at UNT and a few other institutions from her new Hover account. Heck – I couldn’t send an email to Beth, who now had an account at Hover and was sitting next to me. All attempts to send email garnered a popup telling us the email we were sending was spam or a virus. WTH?

    After three calls to Hover tech support, who were very good and answered quickly, and another trip to mxtoolbox we found the problem. Someone had blacklisted our domain, otherwhen.com. Please let me interject, I send a lot of email, but I don’t spam. Ever. The blacklisting agency, SorbsBL, had a good, if somewhat tedious, form on their web site where I was able to explain I didn’t spam. They agreed to remove me from the blacklist.

    Elapsed time from the start if the saga – 3 weeks of limited email functionality, 3 weeks of using my gmail account to get around my own server’s issues. I don’t like giving out my gmail account name. (As a hint, I keep it for things like this- when your server is down or blocked it helps to have an unrelated account. Think of it as your fire escape. AND it’s free.)

    Since I didn’t get any real benefit from the VPS and since I never really liked the VPS version of CPanel, I moved my web hosting back to JaguarPC. I recommend both JaguarPC and ServerHub highly, just not for email services. (If you’re looking for a budget hosting service, look at http://lowendbox.com/, they track hosting deals, and rate them as well. They also have better deals for ServerHub than ServerHub offers direct to the public.)

    Bottom line? Don’t mix web and email hosting. Ever. The worst is over, I have all but one domain moved back to JaguarPC, email is working, and the nightmares have almost gone away.

    -Mike

  31. I’m looking at doing this for a client right now. He’s a bit upset over a recent server going down taking his email and website with it. Not too worried about site but as we all know we can’t live without email. I looked at Google Apps and was about to suggest it but as mentioned in a comment above since the MX records are usually only changed at the hosting cPanel if the hosting goes down the Google mail also goes down.
    Someone else mentioned above it is possible to point the DNS for the site one place and the MX records to a different place. I’m guessing this is done from the registrar. Need a bit more research to figure it out it would seem.

  32. This is in response to Ernest Burden’s post. Hope it winds up in the right spot.

    Having used the CPanel DNS editor in both VPS and shared hosting situations, I’m not a fan. I’d rather have my registrar also handle my DNS services. This makes it easier to point to different hosting services for each service without the concern that if your web hosting goes down, everything goes down. DNS is a highly distributed database, so if your DNS server goes down, chances are it will be hours before anyone knows.

  33. There are actually 3 hosts required as DNS hosting is usually tied in with web hosting. If you domain registrar does not have dns hosting, you can use a service like cloudflare. That’s what I do and I have my email with the XYZ mail and hosting separate. Works like a charm.

  34. Been fighting to get my Hover small email inboxes working after applying for hosting at Bluehost which seems to have broken Hover >_> I figure I might just contact Bluehost on this as I don’t have a clue what I’m doing with all these MX settings and such. I do know enough to mess things up though :p

    • Have you tried Hover support? I’ve found them to be very personable and helpful. They should be able to walk you through both your Hover settings and your host settings.

  35. Hi Carrie, surprised you don’t mention Zoho. It’s much-much better than {Horde|Roundcube|Squirell}. Maybe you can review it later from your perspective?

    Wondering why I don’t host my email separate with web hosting since day one.

  36. Glad I found this post. Weโ€™ve been having some email trouble with our web host. We love our host, but it doesnโ€™t look good for a tech support company to have issues with their own email. Getting an email from a client saying their emails to you bounced, is not a good thing! Iโ€™m looking forward to solving the problem once and for all. ๐Ÿ™‚ Iโ€™m just glad we caught the problem before it gets out of hand.

  37. Thank you for this article and all those comments!! SO very helpful. I was investigating moving one of my domains/email to a new location as well as adding web hosting to the other domain/email – I was wanting them all in the same place to make it “easier”. Thank you – I will not be doing that now.

  38. Good article, enjoyed reading it Carrie. The subject of using different email and web hosts goes way back. And as you’ve written, it’s still relevant today!

  39. I do not even know if combining web hosting with email is a bad idea. But after reading this article, so I know that there are many problems that occur. So I’m very grateful.

  40. A new wrinkle to the badness. A really badassity wrinkle.

    Having learned my lesson (the hard way), I separated web and email hosting. And for two years, life was good and free of sturm und drang. Until yesterday. Suddenly both my home and work accounts were blacklisted. And I use two different hosting services – Hover and Intermedia.

    I looked more closely at the bounce messages and the offending server was our web server.

    WTH?

    Our web hosting service also hosts email, just not ours. It turns out someone on the shared web server is a spammer and got our web server IP address blacklisted. And the blacklisting services picked up our domain names. And blacklisted them also, even though they are on totally different servers.

    Our web hosting service is trying to help. i just asked them for new, dedicated,. IP addresses. The next step is a new hosting service.

    Every time you think you have it licked, it turns around and claws you!

    -Mike

    • Mike, that’s terrible! You bring up a compelling scenario of the importance of good hosting, too. Some naughty bird can ruin it for everyone one the server. ๐Ÿ™

      Hope you’re back up and running quickly.

  41. Thank you for this useful thread, Carrie!! I’m finally getting tired of being blacklisted due to shared servers on HostGator. Is Hover as an email host having that problem too, now? (Also how are they with spam filtering?) Is Google Apps for Work still your fave email provider? –Lizm

    • Hey Liz! I’ve never had any issues with Hover. I do see some spam get through, but you can adjust your spam filter settings, block certain addresses, etc. Hover’s what I’m using for all of my email right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  42. Very comical post and I fully agree, however even when you split your web host and email host via your MX records you still rely on the server your DNS is pointing too. If this goes off-line you are still stuffed, unless your host has ‘fail over’.

  43. I don’t understand something about all of this. I have a good, reliable hosting company I’ve been using for 10 years now and for my personal domains I just use their default email services and have never had a problem.

    Now, I want to start hosting client “brochure” sites – low monthly cost – and I do want to separate email hosting from website hosting — so why can’t I just purchase another hosting plan from my hosting company and run email-only accounts there? I could probably run 100 email accounts on a single $30/month plan this way. So, same hosting company but on different physical server.

    I guess I don’t understand why we can’t just use the hosting company email services they provide with tens of thousands of cpanel accounts, and instead all the comments here say to go find another service that specializes in email hosting? Not trying to argue here…I really want to understand.

  44. Obviously late to the party here but I wanted to contribute one solution that works for us.

    We run some domains on Linode.com servers.

    We are very good Linux sysadmins, but not good enough to install a mail server nor do we want the hassle of maintaining one… it’s a major PITA.

    What we have done is to get a cheap, shared hosting package with a good ISP (there are lots of them out there) that lets us have unlimited number of domains and email boxes for those domains.

    We add the domain that we are hosting on Linode, add some email boxes on the ISP and change the DNS MX record on the Linode DNS (or any DNS nameserver) to push all mail over to the shared ISP.

    A dedicated email host (FastMail, Google, etc.) is great… but at around $5/month per mailbox is pretty high if the domain needs boxes for 15 different people. Shared hosting which cost on the average of $6 a month for unlimited domains and email boxes is a better deal and has worked well for us.

    Great article Carrie. Maybe you want to update it with any new material or opinions since it was originally posted? It is an interesting topic.

      • Boy, I wish I had read this article a few years ago. I stupidly used my domain’s email address for another website’s login and 4 years down the road (domain is long gone) I now need to access that email to log into this other site and delete it. I am tempted to re-purchase the domain again and see if I can create the same email address and perhaps be able to log back into the other site? Does anyone know if this would work?

    • The risks are higher when you use a host that combines web and mail hosting. And separating them may not be enough at times – make sure you have an unrelated email account so you can straighten the mess out.

      As mentioned above, we separated our email and web a while back. However, another company used the server we were also had our web site on to spam. Since our web domain and theirs had the same IP address, our email domain wound up on blacklists.

      It’s tempting to go one more nuclear step, have a different web and email domain. AND have them hosted by specialists!

      Another answer is to have a dedicated server or virtual private server with a dedicated IP address or two. But even there, be careful. The last time I went that route the IP address the vendor assigned us had been used by a spammer and I had a few days of jumping through hoops to get us de-blacklisted. You may want to look up the IP address at mxtoolbox before you go live!

      • Guess I’ve been lucky. Some of the solutions being discussed here would cost hundreds of dollars per month for a small (5-10) person business. For email.

        • That would be the Cadillac plan.

          Hover costs $20 per year per mailbox, and you get to use your own domain name.

          Google mail is also pretty cost effective, and you get to use your own domain name.

          If you really need, or think you need, exchange, then the price goes up. That said, we’ve been happy with Intermedia.com and they run $7.49 per user per month.For 10 employees, that would be $74.90 per month. Not cheap, but not in the hundreds per month range. Again, you can use your own domain name with them,

          Mike

          • Well, if a small company has 10 people and each needs their own email box and the company itself needs several email boxes (and assume that aliases won’t work well for them) you are talking a couple of hundred USD a year. We do what we posted above… we run some Linode servers and push email to an inexpensive hosting plan at a good ISP. The web is on Linode, the mail on the ISP, it works well. And if you want to break it apart further, you can use smtp2go.com for outgoing mail. It is rather inexpensive.

          • As an email hosting provider for 13 years, I have to say that IMAP/POP3 email hosting for even 20 mailboxes should not cost more than $20 per month TOTAL. We have plans from $1 and $2 per mailbox per month depending on services needed:

            http://www.greatmail.com/email-hosting-pricing.php

            Let me be clear — these are IMAP and POP3 plans with Groupware options available, not hosted Exchange. That’s more.

    • In any business there is a balance between making money and saving money. Both are important.

      However, what could you be doing with the time you are spending to run and maintain a cheap cloud server? If you were already an email server guru, this whole discussion would make you smile indulgently.

      More to the point, I think most people are better off hiring the job out and using the saved time to grow your own business. What gives you more bang per buck? Designing a web page or figuring out where your emails went? Doing some market analysis to get more clients? Or learning about Exim, qmail or Sendmail? Learning more about WordPress or deciding whether to use Exim, qmail or Sendmail?

      There are good reasons to learn about email servers and security. But is that the best use for your time?

      I used to run a FreeBSD box with Sendmail and later Exim. Now, I’m really glad to let Intermedia handle my employer’s Exchange needs and to let Hover handle my POP3/IMAP needs.

      • Mike makes a good point. You always have to weigh the entities of cost, time, and value. Take the small company that has a need for 28 email boxes for all of their domains and workers and contractors. Assume $15 per month per box… $15/mo x 28 boxes x 12 months = $5,040. To a small company that’s real money! If that company has better than average technical skills… well at least enough to run their own servers, is it worth $5K to run a mail server for the company? Again, it is a judgement call and not everyone will make the same decision.

        Do you want the convenience and lower cost of owning your own car or do you want to call Uber, wait, and pay for every trip you take to the grocery store?

        There is no wrong answer… and I’m not convinced that splitting email off from your web server host isn’t a solution to where there really is no major problem. I smell a little smoke but have not more than a few sparks… and not any fire yet.

    • Split email from web server host is more than a good idea for someone is a need.
      A company could required different email profiles according the different use required.
      One of the major issue for us has been the sending email limit (here there is list of several email hosting providers http://docs.mailpoet.com/article/49-lists-of-hosts-and-their-sending-limits) .
      We had to choose to differents providers because a standard employees’s email cost less han an email used for marketing comunications , mailing list.

  45. Just to follow up, we’ve been testing our own email server on a Linode cloud server using Mail In A Box install of Postfix, Dove, etc. Incoming works great. But I’m not all that in love with the outgoing server. So we have been testing the SMTP2GO.COM service and it works well. They have a free plan (no time limit) that lets you send 1000 emails a month are no more than 20 per hour. For $45 a year you can move up to 2,000 a month and no hourly limit. Works well. (Usual disclaimers apply… we are not a reseller… or have any other connection with them beyond using their free service… but we do plan to move to the higher paid limit if all continues to go well.)
    YMMV.

    • Watch out for the low-cost or free versions of SMTP service. I used SendGrid for awhile and found that their free version, as well as their low-volume paid plan, use shared IP addresses. Someone else was sending spam, which resulted in the IP address being blacklisted. With no warning at all, my emails were not going out. I only found out after reviewing the dashboard at my SendGrid account.

      Moral of the story: If you are not paying ($$$) for a dedicated IP address for an SMTP service, your are more likely to be blacklisted than if you just use your own dedicated IP address at your hosting provider.

    • That’s a good solution for when you only need one or two private email boxes, but if you are a small company and need 10 or more, it gets rather expensive. As I posted above, we’ve been running our own mail servers on Linode. But that might be beyond the ability of many people although once you get it installed it seems to run fine with little or no attention needed.

      • Years ago I owned a bakery. In the early days we had a survey of customers to see what they’d like us to do. One note made me smile. The person said the price we were charging for bread was outrageous! He’d baked bread, he knew how much it cost. We shouldn’t charge more than 25 cents a loaf! Of course, he wasn’t considering the cost of his time, the cost of staff time (he had none at home), the cost of utilities, the cost of ingredients, and the cost of rent.

        Similarly, the costs of running your own email server aren’t obvious. If you are running your server in your office, you are at the mercy of your ISP and power company and you have the possible opportunity cost of missed deals. We needed to be 7 x 24 and lost connectivity was a very real issue. The people who sell email services have hardened server sites with 5 nines reliable electricity (with battery and generator backup), as well as 5 nines reliable connectivity.

        There is also the cost of your email server. You can run on a hand-me-down PC, but its reliability may be compromised. Even if you put a new drive in it, the clock is ticking. Yeah, computers are more reliable than they used to be, still, everything fails if you wait long enough.

        What are you going to do when the server craps out? Do you have a backup of your server? Backup software can be free, but someone needs to make sure the backups were run and really have data on them.

        If you load a consumer Linux and a consumer email server package you have vulnerabilities. Can you say “Podesta”? I knew you could. Someone needs to stay on top of updates and upgrades. And schedule them when they are convenient for the user community.

        Using a commercial email package, we estimated the actual costs for 30 users to be around $3,000 a year (if memory serves, it could have been higher).

        $10 a month per user for 30 Exchange services runs about $3,600 a year, with no headaches for me.

        $20 a year per user for POP3/MAP for 30 users is $600 a year. All in all, I’m not at all convinced that in-house is better financially. Whatever time your staff puts into maintaining the email would be more productive if it was focused on achieving your corporate mission.

        I say this as someone who has hosted email in house for about 20 years. I’m glad to wash my hands of it.

        • If you believe what the hosted email companies tell you about their server farm and their backups and their redundancies and if you believe that $120 a year per user works for your bottom line, than by all means it is a good solution.

    • Thanks for your article, Carrie!
      I signed up for the 14days trial for G-guite.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on two things:
      A) To sign up for all the services you are using for your business, which email do you use? Let’s say the email adress you publish on your business site for your customers is hello@yourbusiness.com … do you also use this email adress to sign up for mailchimp, paypal, facebook ect..?? or do you use a special one for this stuff, something like adminXY@yourbusiness.com?

      B) My registrar is namecheap, my WordPress hoster siteground and now via MX G-suite for Email. Because they are connected via DNS, if Siteground goes down, G-Suite won’t be available, too? Or am I missing something?

      Thanks and best wishes,
      Mika

  46. A huge thanks goes to Carrie for this article, and all the community for such valuable responses.

    Along these years being a freelance web designer & developer, I’m also fed up with becoming a de facto IT guy for fixing email problems. I’m totally sold with the idea of separating hosting for email and web. When I look at my support tasks in the previous years, I see that 99% of the support requests I receive are about problems related with email.

    So I’m more than willing to take this approach, with my future clients.

    I still have a question though.

    With Google Suite, what is your approach in managing different clients/domains? I know that Google Suite lets multiple domains to be used under one account. So for a freelancer like me, should I create a business account for my own business, and then add new domains for each client? Or should I create new accounts separately?

    For clearence, I’m located in Taiwan, and unlike US, most people in Taiwan either don’t have or don’t like to use VISA, so I cover Google Suite payment through my VISA, and get paid by clients upfront. Having my own business account would help me a lot with managing the billing part, instead of having separate admin panels for each client/domain.

    Thank you

    • I’d advise against managing through your account as that leaves you as a middle man that could prohibit your clients from accessing their accounts should something ever happen to you. I see what you mean about credit cards and have run into that before with international clients. The problem is that G Suite wants you to keep a credit card on file (they’ll alternatively work with bank transfers, so maybe Paypal could work?).

      Anyhow, I don’t think G Suite is intended for what you’re looking for (in that it’s meant for a single organization – not a bunch of organizations).

      I’d suggest calling (or emailing) Hover and explaining your situation and see what they suggest. As I recall, they don’t allow multi-account access (i.e. you manage client accounts via your login), but we can always cross our fingers that it’s on the roadmap. Alternatively, you could set up accounts in their name/email and just use their logins (don’t tell anyone I said that). ๐Ÿ˜‰

Trackbacks

  1. […] This is the company that hosts your emails. This may beย the same company thatย manages your Domain Name or you may use Google Apps or Yahoo Business Mail. It is best to haveย your emails hosted by a different company than your website, mainly so that if your website hosting goes down, then you still have access to your emails and it means that you won’t experience email downtime if you change website hosts. Carrie Dils explains more in her post ‘Know whatโ€™s a terrible idea? Mixing hosting with email.’ […]

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