Post initial setup, a primary concern will be the log-on issue. If your organization is fine with a separate log-on for your email provider, then this step will be quick. However, that's not typically what businesses want or users expect. In general, users expect to sign onto their desktops and have their email and file sharing sign-ons happen as part of that one-step process. Not surprisingly, this is called Single Sign-On (SSO) and it's enabled in one of three ways: through the use of a back-end directory service like Microsoft Active Directory (AD); an identity management service, like Okta (one of our Editors' Choice winners in that category); or several compatible web services that include SSO along with other apps and email services, like Google G Suite Business and Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium (two of the top providers reviewed here). Which method you choose depends on how your business is configured today and your long-term cloud services strategy. It's definitely a conversation you'll need to have either with your in-house IT staff or your outside IT consultant.
In terms of security for its hosted email services, you'll find this is all hosted in Microsoft's data centers. That means you'll have all the same security benefits as those provided to other Microsoft Office 365 users. Your email data will be encrypted in transit and at rest using SSL and Bitlocker technology. Per Microsoft's publicly available terms of service, Microsoft employees only have highly limited access to your data and only under specific, audited circumstances.
Since GoDaddy has essentially repackaged Microsoft Office 365, you get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of email features, both on the user side and from an administrator's perspective. Assuming you go with the Business Premium feature set as we did, you'll get the full Microsoft Office Suite along with its business collaboration tools. This means the usual productivity apps, such as Microsoft Access, Excel, Outlook, and Word, but it also gives you additional team collaboration, online conferencing, and even VoIP phone calling via Microsoft Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. However, we are a little disappointed in the pricing structure, as some of what GoDaddy sells as extra-cost add-ons, such as encryption, is already present if you go with a plan directly from Microsoft.
Continuous improvements – The world of email marketing is always changing. The capabilities of email design and the potential for quality user experiences grow exponentially every year. The best email hosting providers are also working to grow and improve on a continuous basis. Consider both the frequency of updates and the types of updates an email host has invested in recently.
GoDaddy’s shared pricing plans range from $2.99/month to $12.99/month. Each plan builds on the previous set of features, working up to the most powerful ‘Maximum’ plan, which has four times the processing power and memory of the Deluxe and Economy plans (plus an SSL certificate for the full term). It claims to support ‘multiple complex sites with high-res photos and videos’, but we’d still recommend a VPS for such sites.
Heart Internet provides all features of Exchange email by the means of its email hosting service. It offers the Microsoft Exchange 2020 platform and includes all the core features such as OWA webmail, ActiveSync, enterprise-class virus and spam protection. The main feature is that the already existing email accounts hosted on MS exchange 2003, 2007 or 2020 can be quickly transferred without loss of data or any downtime. The unique selling point of Heart Internet email hosting service is that it provides full free access to Outlook 2020 along with.
Got products to sell? Online Store has you covered. Create a sleek-looking online store, sell on marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy, track inventory in one place, choose from flexible shipping and payment options, even let customers book appointments online. Whether you sell products, services or digital content, GoDaddy Online Store has everything you need to successfully sell online.
That's a big difference, with "inbox zero" requiring an email client with great archiving that works over multiple device types. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, the personal information managers need something more like Microsoft Outlook, with excellent search capabilities as well as a good storage contract on the hosting side because these types of inboxes are often tens of gigabytes (GB) per user.
Hostwinds may be the PCMag Editors' Choice for VPS hosting, but that doesn't mean that GoDaddy doesn't have quality virtual private server packages. GoDaddy's VPS plans (which start at a $19.99 per month, renews at $29.99 per month) offer Linux- or Windows-based servers, as well as unlimited domains and monthly data transfers. The specs top out at 8GB of RAM, 240GB of storage, and a free SSL for one year. That's good stuff, especially if you sign up for a multi-month plan. The Economy Virtual Private Server plan, for example, drops to just $9.99 per month if you agree to a two-year deal. That's 50 percent off. As with the shared plans, these VPS plans use Office 365 Starter Email.
It is also necessary to study email alternatives as part of your email service setup plan. Email is the standard way to communicate and it is familiar to most users, but it isn't always the most effective or expedient method. Email can be slow, result in delayed responses, and messages are rarely read to completion. Because of this, many businesses require additional "collaboration" tools, that various email services also include, in order to fill the communication gap more effectively.
The Pro 5 plan (starts at $24.99 per month) comes with five domains, 50GB of storage, five staging areas, site backup (for up to 90 days), and a free SSL certificate. Pro 10 (starts at $49.99 per month) ups the domains to 10, storage to 80GB, and staging areas to 10. Pro 25 (starts at $89.99 per month) builds on Pro 10 by offering 25 domains, 25 staging areas, and 100GB of storage. Pro 50 (starts at $169 per month) serves up 50 domains, 200GB of storage, and 50 staging areas. Please note that the renewal prices are the same as the starting prices.
All GoDaddy’s business hosting plans come with unmetered traffic, unlimited websites and databases, and a standard SSL certificate included. The more you’re willing to spend, the more storage, RAM (memory) and CPUs (power) you’ll be able to tap into. GoDaddy’s business hosting plans can cover everything from multiple basic sites (Launch plan) to multiple photography or resource-heavy sites (Expand plan).
If you don't want to spend a lot of money on web hosting, shared hosting is the way to go. This form of cheap web hosting places your website on a server with other sites. So, yes, your site literally shares server resources with others, hence the tier's name. This means that it's far from the most powerful web hosting type, however. The sites sharing the server compete for resources—everything from throughput to storage space. You'll want dedicated or virtual private server (VPS) hosting for muscle if you expect big traffic, or if you want to insulate yourself from big traffic spikes.
Data protection is another key email security concern. Inboxes often contain GBs of business-critical and personal data, so not just hackers but also legitimate marketing companies can make big money off mining email data—and this sometimes includes the very company that is providing the email service to you. Fortunately, most companies, including your hosting provider, are pretty good about keeping out of private data, but it's important to be aware of when these policies have failed. Security breaches are commonplace and it's important to know how your data is being managed. To protect yourself, be sure to inquire about data safety capabilities on the provider's side, especially around encryption and malware scanning. But be sure to implement additional measures on your side, as well, including encryption for those using local email clients as well as deploying personal virtual private networks (VPNs) to folks accessing their email from multiple locations.
They’re always ready to answer your questions and fix any technical issues at any given time of day or night. According to most users, GoDaddy’s customer service and technical support are excellent. The support staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and prompt with fast response times ranging from less than a minute to up to 10 minutes. And as is the norm with most web hosts today, GoDaddy has a massive knowledgebase where you can find most of the answers to your support questions.
In terms of plans, GoDaddy’s VPS plans look very similar to its Business ones. The only real difference is a jump in storage – up to 200 GB on the Expand plan – and therefore in price. GoDaddy promises to get your VPS server up and running in minutes, and takes care of managing the whole thing for you. These VPS plans are best suited to eCommerce sites, or resource-heavy apps. They’re also a good option if you have multiple sites on the go, as the isolated environment means one site won’t impact on the loading times of another.
Reliable. Reliability is always a big question mark. Stuff can always happen unpredictably, and even the best servers can go offline from time to time. However, it’s still worth keeping in mind that if anything should go bad at any point in time, the client is still going to come to you for answers (and probably blame you a little as well). For that reason, working with web hosting for small business that has a good track record is crucial, as it will limit the times you’ll have to explain why this or that is not working.
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.
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.
Room to grow. Even though most small businesses will probably want to launch just one website, it’s worth having the possibility for the client’s portfolio to grow and expand to a couple more websites. Even though most hosts will allow that, some of them might charge more than what can be considered reasonable. Also, rolling out new sites should be easy to do – without the need to reconfigure or move the original site.
If you want the security and privacy features of the above solutions while not paying too much, Rackspace offers the best alternative. In fact, they claim “256-bit Encryption in transit and at rest.” Rackspace offers a basic plan at $2/user/month, with huge 25 GB mailboxes, 30 GB cloud storage and unlimited email aliases. You can run your emails from Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook.
While most businesses will have such suites in place, it often falls to the email service to provide an additional layer of anti-phishing and anti-malware protection. Our reviews found a surprising variance in this department, however, ranging from very robust to completely non-existent, so be careful. Since it's such a huge liability for business owners, this could be one of the most important factors in terms of background features. At the very least, it's better than filing an insurance claim or outright losing funds due to simple social engineering tactics.
Other advanced plans utilize more intensive security and offer support for things like a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Also on offer is SHA-2 and 2048-bit encryption for all hosting plans and the option to buy SiteLock (a service that provides spam and malware monitoring, site-verification certificate, and app scanning). You may also have access to malware scanning and removal features.
If privacy is your number one concern, perhaps you should go with Protonmail. You can upgrade to an email with your domain easily on a web interface under “Protonmail Plus” or “Protonmail Visionary” plans. However, the plans can be rather expensive, as getting only 20 GB storage space could cost you at least €24/user/month/yearly. Most email hosting providers retain your emails for months even after you delete your account. This Swiss email provider will destroy all your data when you delete your account.
One of the most important compatibility factors to consider with email is the mobility question. How often do your employees need to access email via mobile devices? That's an important issue because most email hosting providers deliver some kind of web client usable as a default inbox. Almost all of these can be accessed via a mobile device, so if your employees don't need to access their emails on the road that much, then such mediocre clients are probably fine.
By creating a website, you are creating an online presence. This allows you to connect with people that you might not otherwise be able to reach. Whether you’re making a basic website with contact information for your small business or medical practice, creating a landing page for your freelance work, a multi-page experience for your wedding photography business or you just want a place to blog about your thoughts on food, having a website will give you a dynamic advantage.
But your service provider isn't your only worry. If you've opted for any third-party email integration, like combining your email with a third-party customer relationship management (CRM) provider (such as Salesforce), that opens your company's email up to either data-snooping apps deployed by Salesforce or to any data breaches that originate with that service. So the more informed you can be about what's attached to your email service, how that data's being used and accessed and especially by whom, the better off you'll be when it comes time to send confidential email.
PCMag understands that no two businesses have the same web hosting requirements, so we've rounded up our best-reviewed web hosting companies for small businesses and detailed their offerings in the table above so that you can get a jump-start on picking a service. If an offering catches your eye, make sure to click the appropriate link from the capsules below to read the in-depth review of the service in question.
Just as ‘business’ hosting is a happy medium between shared and VPS hosting, VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is one step closer to a dedicated server – without the added price tag. With a VPS hosting plan, you have a ‘virtual server’ that acts like a dedicated server, but within a shared space – kind of like having an apartment in a shared block of apartments, rather than a detached house.
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.