Ultimately, it boils down to a balance between cost, features, and risk. It's always tempting to simply jump on the lowest-cost solution, but the fact that email is ubiquitous keeps this from being the smart play. It's nearly impossible to escape using it, which means your users, your customers, and the guts of your business have all come to depend on it in different ways. You need to discover those ways, evaluate them, and then choose a service that either meets or improves on them. This takes time, discussion with your IT staff, and some investigation; these are steps you don't want to skip. Otherwise, you'll pay for it later.
With a nearly 20-year old legacy, Australia-based Fastmail is dedicated to professional email hosting with unrivaled features including super fast “push” features for full mobile sync. In fact, this is one of our favorite picks if you like to manage all your emails on a phone. Fastmail also perfectly integrates with Thunderbird, Outlook and Apple Mail. With two-bit encryption and perfect forward secrecy, you definitely get best security and privacy.
Hosted email often comes as part of another service, such as web hosting or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Since that means there will be many extras available with these services, it's inescapable that you'll be paying for those extras in some way. Purchasing them usually means a slight uptick in that per-user price. Many businesses find that, once they're done selecting all of their needed "optional extras," their end price can often reach as high as $10 or more per user. This can start to add up for larger teams. It's somewhat like buying cable service: sometimes you need to pay for the channels you don't want to get the couple of channels that you need. There is also the old adage that "you get what you pay for" when it comes to quality. This is almost always true when considering an email host.
The Deluxe plan (starts at $7.99 per month, renews at $10.99 per month) builds on the Economy package by adding unlimited storage and domains. The Ultimate package (starts at a $12.99 per month, renews at $16.99 per month) adds double the processing power and a one-year Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. FYI, GoDaddy tosses in a free domain name if you sign up for an annual plan.
For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web hosting, music, utilities, and video game copy, Jeffrey makes comic books, mentors, practices bass and Jeet Kune Do, and appears on the odd podcasts or convention panel. He also collects vinyl and greatly enjoys a craft brew. You can a find Jeffrey online at jeffreylwilson.net, or send him a tweet at @jeffreylwilson
Along with the slew of desktop apps, you also get access to Microsoft Outlook Web Access (OWA), a sleek and modern web adaptation of the Outlook email client. It offers a familiar layout for calendars, contacts, and tasks, and a new "focused inbox"—all available in your browser. What Microsoft means by a "focused inbox" is that, rather than just being a dumping ground for all incoming email, it defaults to a dynamic view that's constantly being updated. This tech is based on a machine learning (ML) algorithm that attempts to figure out which email is most important to you; everything else goes to the regular inbox. As you sort emails between the focused inbox and the regular inbox, the algorithm gradually gets better, helping you to concentrate on email that matters most. You'll also be able to use mentions. When creating a new email, if you prepend someone's name with the @ sign, then it will automatically Cc that individual. You can also apply a filter that will show you emails in which you were directly mentioned.