If you have a website, you need to have email. You need to have an account people can email you if they love or hate your site, and you need an email address to be notified if something goes wrong with your website. This leads to the all important question: where are you going to host your email?
Answer: not on your website. Yes, yes, we know. Every good web host (and even the not so good ones) gives this away for free when you host your site with them. This is exactly why you DON’T want to take them up on it. Think about it: if your website goes down (and trust us, it WILL) what’s going to happen to your email? Oh, that’s right. It’s down too. Why? Because you put all your eggs in one basket. So your website and your email server are BOTH down. How are you going to be notified? D’oh! You can’t be notified by email because that’s not working either. You’d better hope you get notified by SMS, and forget about receiving any important emails from perspective clients, fans or anyone else.
Think that’s enough reason not to host your own server? Well, we’ve got more. As if this wasn’t enough, hosting your own email can eat up half of your resources making your web page load slower. In the internet business that’s a fate worse than death. Because no first time visitor to your website is ever going to say “wow, that page loads really slow. I’ll come back later and give them another chance.” Doesn’t happen. Pure and simple. Also Google measures every millisecond it takes to load your website, and they track that daily. If you’re slow, Google will be happy to send their visitors to someone faster.
Your web server exists to load your website pages fast. Period. It exists to do nothing else. Anything that gets in the way of this is simply bad for business. That’s why you don’t ever, under any circumstances host your own email server. Period.
So, now that we’ve scared the pants of you and told you what not to do, what are your options? We’ll the truth is, you’ve only got two in our opinion. But they’re really good ones, so fret not, fledgling website owner. We’ve got you covered.
Email Hosting Option #1: Gmail
First and foremost is Gmail. They are simplest option. They are free, and for your domain they are the cheapest option which may be all you need to hear if your website is just getting started. Beyond having an unbeatable price, they also offer something else that’s much more attractive: piece of mind. See, Google has big, huge buckets of money to throw at, well everything. This means they’ve invested in the best people and technology money can buy to ensure that nothing bad ever happens. You won’t ever have to worry about your Gmail going down, because if that happened, a lot of insanely well paid people would lose their incredibly cushy and killer jobs unless they get it fixed FAST; and they just aren’t going to let that happen. So Gmail won’t let you down and it’s incredibly simple and easy to use. You don’t need a huge amount of technical knowledge. A few simple clicks and you are up and running.
Email Hosting Option #2: Rackspace
Rackspace (or as we like to refer to them “The Artist Formerly Known As Webmail.us) is our recommendation, and they are our email hosting provider. Why? Rackspace is comprised of rock stars. Their support people are awesome, and when you call or email them with a problem, they actually call or email you back – with an actual solution. People at Rackspace aren’t just passionate; they are, as they like to call it “fanatical.” And we mean that in a good, non cult-y way. Rackspace has created a culture (they refer to it as their ‘special sauce) where employees thrive and have been named one of the best companies to work for by Computer World and The Sunday Times. All of this means that your business is handled by happy people who actually want to go to work and not some disgruntled college kid sitting in a basement somewhere. You can probably tell by now that we’re pretty big fans of theirs. It’s really hard not to be, actually. They’re reasonably priced too! Give them a try and you’ll see why we love working with them.
As a small side not on Rackspace, we also use them for Cloud Hosting all the static content on our websites, but more on that soon in a separate article.
Whether you go with Gmail or Rackspace, your email will still be up and running if your website ever goes down… and you won’t be impacting your website load times every time you get an email with those huge NSFW pictures from your pervert friends and funny cat videos from your less perverted friends. FTW!