The Best Email Hosting Providers of 2021

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An essential part of building your personal or small business website is creating an email address that is connected to your website's domain name. This establishes your professionalism and builds trust with customers and other visitors to your website. However, email features typically vary by web host, so it's important to consider what you need, and look at what different hosts are offering before you select a web host. Read on for an overview of the key email features to look for, as well as our recommendations for the best email hosting providers.

The 15 Best Email Hosting Providers of 2021

Best Email Hosting Providers

A2 Hosting

A2-Hosting

A2 Hosting offers unlimited email addresses with all of its web hosting plans, making it a cost-effective email hosting provider no matter what other services you need. Its Startup plan costs $2.99 per month and includes one website and 100 GB SSD storage, while all other plans include unlimited websites and unlimited SSD storage.

A2 Hosting supports POP3, IMAP, SMTP, and webmail, with built-in spam protection and optional Barracuda spam filtering. You can manage everything from cPanel, and access email forwarding and auto-responder features.

You can also install Contact Form 7 on your WordPress site and choose from several newsletter tools, including phpList, Dada Mail, and Pommo. Several plans include free automatic backups and access to faster Turbo servers.

A2 Hosting offers 24/7/365 email support, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee. After that, you can get a prorated refund if you cancel your service.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Startup: $2.99/month

Drive: $4.99/month
30 days, or prorated refund after that>Bandwidth/Disk Space: Unlimited
>Server Types: Shared, VPS, WordPress, Reseller, Dedicated
>24/7 Support
>More features at A2Hosting

Pros & Cons of A2 Hosting Web Hosting

A2 Hosting offers an impressive array of email features with all hosting plans, including spam filtering and newsletter software. However, there's no standalone email plan, and the cheapest web hosting plan comes with 1 website and 100 GB SSD storage, which may not be enough for some users. If you're looking for a comprehensive email and web hosting package, though, A2 may have you covered.

ProsCons
>24/7/365 customer support
>Spam filtering
>Newsletter support
>Requires web hosting plan

What Customers Are Saying

Customers have good things to say about A2 Hosting's customer support hosting tools: "I am very pleased and impressed with the level of support from A2 Hosting — that's in addition to their excellent documentation and web hosting related tools." Another user says, "So good ... that I have moved my personal email and web hosting to A2."

Cloudways

cloudways

Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform, which means all of your data is hosted in the cloud, and you don't have to manage any of the details yourself. You'll get access to 24/7/365 support, automated backups, and an easy-to-use control panel.

Plans start at $10 per month or you can pay-as-you-go and only be charged for the data you use. You'll also get free migration and unlimited application installation.

Cloudways doesn't provide servers for email hosting itself, but it offers the Rackspace Email Hosting add-on, for $1 per month per mailbox, and a free Gmail SMTP add-on. The Rackspace add-on is fully managed by Cloudways, and includes mailboxes, aliases, mail forwarding, and more. It also comes with 25 GB of email storage.

Cloudways is designed for digital agencies and e-commerce businesses, and if you use the Rackspace add-on, you'll also get email servers that can meet your digital marketing needs while complying with GDPR and CCPA regulations.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
$10/month, plus $1/month per email accountPay-as-you-go>Server Types: Cloud Hosting
>24/7 Support
>Database backups
>More features at Cloudways

Pros & Cons of Cloudways Web Hosting

Cloudways is a good choice if you want fully-managed hosting so you don't have to set up any servers yourself. The Rackspace add-on costs extra, but comes with a range of email management tools, and although Cloudways doesn't have the usual money-back guarantee, its pay-as-you-go plan means you'll only pay for what you need.

ProsCons
>Pay-as-you-go plans
>24/7/365 support
>No email hosting servers, just add-ons

What Customers Are Saying

Customers speak highly of the customer support and the ease of use. One user says, "We continue to be impressed with how stable and fast their platform is."

DreamHost

DreamHost Logo

DreamHost is one of the few providers that offers email hosting without requiring you to purchase a web hosting plan too. This means you can get an email address using your custom domain, even if you don't have a website, and even if that domain has already been registered and hosted by another provider.

All plans include inbound spam filtering, IMAP support so you can sync your email on all of your devices, drag-and-drop tools, and other organizational features.

Plans start at $1.99 per month per mailbox, and include 25 GB of storage. If you pay on an annual basis, you can bring the price down to $1.67 per month. You'll also get 24/7 support from a help bot, and live support via chat during U.S. business hours.

You can purchase a domain name when you sign up, and migrate email messages from your current hosting provider. If you already have a web hosting plan with DreamHost, you won't have to pay extra for email, since it's included in most plans.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
$1.99/month/mailbox97 days for shared hosting plans, no refunds for paid email plans>24/7 Support
>Free Domain
>Website Builder
>More features at DreamHost

Pros & Cons of DreamHost Web Hosting

DreamHost gives you the flexibility to pay for email hosting with or without web hosting, making it easy to get a professional email address for personal or business use. Plans are affordably-priced and include 25 GB of storage, but there are no refunds for email hosting plans. Also, live customer support is only available during business hours.

ProsCons
>Standalone email hosting
>Flexible domain options
>Limited live chat support

What Customers Are Saying

Dreamhost's customers are fans of the consistently good service they receive. One customer says, "Since moving to Dreamhost in 2012 I have received reliable and consistent web hosting and email services."

HostGator

HostGator logo

HostGator makes it easy to create a new email account directly within cPanel, but you'll need to sign up for a hosting account with them first. Shared hosting plans start at $2.75 per month, and include a free domain and unlimited POP3 email accounts.

You can access your email via webmail or on your smartphone using IMAP, and you can set up advanced tools such as autoresponders, mail forwarding, and mailing lists.

If you want to integrate your email with other professional services, you can add G Suite to your HostGator plan for an extra $6 per month. This includes support for collaborative tools like Google Docs, as well as 30 GB of cloud storage and 24/7 live support. You'll also get admin controls so you can add and remove users and create groups.

If you prefer to host your email on your own server, you can do that instead by following the detailed guides included in HostGator's knowledge base.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
$2.75-$5.95/month45 days>Free Domain
>Website Builder
>Database Backups
>More features at HostGator

Pros & Cons of HostGator Web Hosting

HostGator is a good option if you want to create several email accounts without paying extra for each one, although you'll have to sign up for a web hosting account first. This makes it best for businesses or individuals that also need a website. Also, while plans start at $2.75 per month, expect prices to increase after the introductory period.

ProsCons
>24/7/365 support
>Supports G Suite and Office 365
>No standalone email plans

What Customers Are Saying

One customer says HostGator has been "extremely professional handling anything I've thrown at them," and, "every time I've managed to mess something up they have managed to fix it."

Hostinger

Hostinger

Hostinger offers two straightforward email hosting options — Business and Enterprise — making it easy to set up a professional email account with or without a website. If you sign up for 12 months at once, you'll also get a free domain.

Both plans come with 50 email aliases, multi-device support, and an antivirus check. The Business plan costs $0.99 per month and includes 10 GB of storage and two mail filters, while the Enterprise plan starts at $2.49 per month and comes with 30 GB of storage and unlimited mail filters. Each price is for a single mailbox.

Hostinger also supports Titan app integrations for Asana, Twitter, Google Drive, and more, as well as productivity tools including note sharing, polls, and to-do lists. Plus, with Flockmail, you can schedule events with colleagues and host video conferences with up to 50 participants. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

You can also migrate your email from other platforms, and reach out to the Customer Success Team if you need any help.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Business: $0.99/month

Enterprise: $2.49/month
30 days>24/7 support
>Website builder
>Free domain with 12-month plan
>More features at Hostinger

Pros & Cons of Hostinger Web Hosting

Hostinger is a great choice for small businesses because you can choose a standalone email hosting plan, even if you don't have a website set up yet. Hostinger also provides plenty of useful tools for professionals, including video conferencing, but you'll have to pay extra for some integrations, such as G Suite, which costs $6 per month.

ProsCons
>30-day money-back guarantee
>Standalone email hosting
>Integrations cost extra

What Customers Are Saying

Hostinger's customers have overall had good experiences with their services. One user says, "my company has been with them now for over 2 years and have only had a few minor issues which were resolved instantly." Others say that Hostinger "has fewer bells and whistles than I am used to" but has a "very attractive pricing model."

HostPapa

HostPapa Logo

HostPapa offers a variety of hosting plans aimed at small businesses. The Basic email plan costs $1 per month per mailbox, with 1 GB of email storage and 35 MB maximum file attachment size. You'll also get unlimited mobile devices and IMAP connections, a calendar, and anti-spam, malware, and virus protection.

The Advanced plan costs $2 per mailbox per month and comes with a total of 5 GB of storage. It also has an increased limit on how many emails you can send per day, as well as additional space for archiving emails.

If you need a website for your business too, you may be better off with a web hosting plan. You'll get 100 email accounts on the Starter plan and unlimited accounts on the Business plan, both of which are currently priced at $3.95 per month.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Basic: $1/mailbox/month

Advanced: $2/mailbox/month
30 days>Free domain
>24/7 support
>Website builder
>More features at HostPapa

Pros & Cons of Hostpapa Web Hosting

HostPapa's plans are aimed at solopreneurs and small businesses, with an optional G Suite integration with 30 GB of storage. Without G Suite, though, you'll only get 1 or 5 GB of storage, which is less than many competitors offer. The option to choose a plan with or without web hosting is convenient, as is the 24/7/365 "PapaSquad" support.

ProsCons
>24/7/365 support
>Optional G Suite add-on
>Limited storage space

What Customers Are Saying

Several customers were impressed by how easy it was to get started, even without any web hosting experience. One says, "I had never done anything like this before" but "they worked me through the issues promptly and efficiently." Another notes that "HostPapa offers 30 min training sessions for people who have no experience in building websites."

Hostwinds

Hostwinds

With Hostwinds, all shared web hosting plans come with unlimited email accounts, so this may be a good choice if you're looking for an all-in-one solution. You'll also get a free domain name registration when you sign up for a 12-month hosting plan.

The Basic plan costs $3.29 per month and also includes unlimited bandwidth and disk space, while Business plans start at $5.64 per month. You'll get access to the cPanel control panel, Weebly website builder, and a dedicated IP address. Optional add-ons include nightly backups, website monitoring, and full 24/7/365 management.

You can get help through four channels — phone, chat, ticketing system, and knowledge base — as well as free website transfers. As of 2019, Hostwinds has discontinued their 60-day money-back guarantee, but they offer prorated refunds for most plans.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Basic: $3.29/month

Business: $5.64/month
Prorated refunds>Bandwidth/Disk Space: Unlimited
>24/7 support
>Free domain
>More features at Hostwinds

Pros & Cons of Hostwinds Web Hosting

Hostwinds offers unlimited email accounts with all web hosting plans, which may make this a cost-effective option for small businesses. However, they don't offer standalone email plans, so you'll be paying for additional tools that you may or may not need. All plans include access to 24/7/365 support through several different channels, but the 60-day money-back guarantee has been replaced with prorated refunds.

ProsCons
>Good customer support
>Unlimited email accounts
>No standalone email plans
>No money-back guarantee

What Customers Are Saying

One customer is impressed with Hostwinds' reliable technical support: "I love how available Hostwinds' front line tech support people are for quick questions. A lot of questions have to be escalated, but it feels really nice that they are just 'there' all the time, if I need them." Another says it was "easy to navigate," and, "the hosting services were carefully differentiated so it's easier to pick the level of service desired."

InMotion Hosting

inmotion-hosting

All of InMotion's shared hosting plans come with email addresses and a free domain, making it suitable for both personal and business users. You can configure your email for use with a variety of clients, including Outlook, Mac Mail, and Thunderbird, and if you've already set up email with a previous host, you can migrate it to InMotion.

InMotion offers a helpful setup guide with details on how to set up email forwarders, create autoresponders, protect your account from spam, and more. If you still need help, you can reach out to the U.S.-based support team around the clock.

Shared hosting starts at $5.99 per month, and supports up to 2 websites and 10 email addresses, while the Pro plan costs $14.99 per month and supports up to 100 websites and unlimited email addresses. All plans come with marketing tools, a security suite, and integrations with Google apps, such as Gmail, Google Docs, and Calendar.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Launch: $5.99/month

Power: $8.99/month

Pro: $14.99/month
90 days for business plans>Free domain
>24/7 support
>Database backups
>More features at InMotion Hosting

Pros & Cons of InMotion Hosting Web Hosting

While the Pro plan comes with an unlimited number of email addresses, the cheapest plan only gets you 10, which may not be enough for some users. That said, you'll get plenty of tools to manage your email accounts, including desktop clients, smartphone access, and integrations with Google apps. You'll also get 24/7/365 support and easy migration options to get you started.

ProsCons
>U.S.-based support
>Google integrations
>Limited number of email addresses

What Customers Are Saying

One customer says, "I keep recommending InMotion Hosting for the simple reason that it has the best support I have found in the IT business." Another testimonial points out its reliability, saying, "As a self-employed counselor, getting my name and brand out there is paramount, so I knew I needed a fast, safe and secure web hosting."

KnownHost

knownhost

KnownHost offers cloud-based hosting for both personal and professional users with its Basic shared hosting plan that includes five email accounts for $3.47 per month. For unlimited email accounts, you can sign up for the Professional shared hosting plan for $9.97 per month, which also includes unlimited domains and unlimited cloud storage.

You can choose from several email hosting applications, including Dada Mail, phpList, RainLoop, and Webinsta Maillist, which includes newsletter and mailing list options. All plans include cPanel account management and three full-scope backups that you can roll back to if you accidentally lose any of your emails or files.

KnownHost provides 24/7/365 customer support from a U.S.-based team, as well as a forum where business owners and marketers can exchange tips and feedback. If you change your mind, you can switch plans at any time or get a refund within 30 days.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Basic: $3.47/month

Professional: $9.97/month
30 days>24/7 support
>SSL certificates
>Database backups
>More features at KnownHost

Pros & Cons of KnownHost Web Hosting

KnownHost offers competitive rates for shared web hosting, and you can choose from several email hosting applications, such as Dada Mail. Since it's designed for "owners who don't have huge product portfolios," its plans may not be comprehensive enough for larger businesses. They suggest giving the support team a heads-up before your first mass mailing so your account doesn't get flagged.

ProsCons
>Multiple hosting applications
>U.S.-based support team
>Large mailings may get flagged

What Customers Are Saying

KnownHost customers point out the "good range of hosting products at reasonable prices. I've been with them for years and have never had any issues." Another user says, "I am always amazed at their quick and efficient 24/7 support."

Liquid Web

LiquidWeb

Liquid Web offers shared web hosting, managed cloud hosting, and more. Their mailbox pricing starts at $1 per month for a Standard plan, which includes 25 GB of space and a maximum of 50 MB attachments. The Plus plan costs $3 per month, and adds on 30 GB of cloud drive document storage and mobile sync options for contact and calendars.

Although you'll need to purchase a web hosting plan in order to add on mailboxes, their Premium Business Email Hosting is a "fully-managed professional service" that includes spam filtering, a free migration tool, and more. You can also add on email archiving for $3 per month per mailbox, or subscribe to the Microsoft Exchange plan, which comes with larger mailboxes, free distribution lists, and a free copy of Outlook.

Liquid Web promises a 59-second response time by phone or chat, and offers a limited money-back guarantee on some plans.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Standard: $1/month

Plus: $3/month

Microsoft Exchange: $10/month
7 days>24/7 support
>SSL certificate
>Database backups
>More features at Liquid Web

Pros & Cons of Liquid Web Web Hosting

Liquid Web's business email packages make this provider worth a look for professional users. Email hosting is only available as an add-on to shared hosting plans, but with a simple per-mailbox pricing structure, you'll only pay for what you need. You'll also get access to email migration tools to help you switch over from your current provider.

ProsCons
>24/7 support
>Email archiving
>No standalone email hosting

What Customers Are Saying

Several customers speak highly of the customer support team, saying: "They are caring, thoughtful, helpful and treat you with so much respect." Another says that they "love the interface and can quickly and easily accomplish everything I need." Although prices are higher than other providers, "They helped me transition from one e-commerce platform to another and fixed all the bugs on the way."

Rackspace

rackspace

Rackspace offers several different email hosting options, including support for Microsoft 365 starting at $5 per user per month, and Exchange for $10.99 per user per month.

If you choose Rackspace's own email plans, you'll pay $2.99 per user per month for the basic plan, and $3.99 per user per month for the Plus plan. You'll get unlimited aliases, group lists, and forwarding, as well as free migration and 25 GB mailboxes. Archiving and file storage is also available for an added cost of $6.99 per user per month.

Rackspace Email includes premium spam and virus protection, secure IMAP for mobile devices, and custom domains. You can try it out for free for two weeks, and cancel your plan at any time. You'll also get access to 24/7 support via chat, phone, and ticket.

Rackspace offers native smartphone apps, and if you use Rackspace Cloud Drive file storage, you'll get 30 GB of storage space protected by 256-bit encryption.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Rackspace Email: $2.99/user/month

Rackspace Email Plus: $3.99/user/month
14 days>24/7 support
>SSL certificate
>Database backups
>More features at Rackspace

Pros & Cons of Rackspace Web Hosting

With standalone email subscriptions and per-mailbox pricing options, Rackspace makes it easy to pay for what you need and cancel your plan at any time. However, there aren't any third-party integrations, so you'll have to pay extra if you want to use Exchange or Microsoft 365. Also, archiving and file storage costs an extra $6.99 per user.

ProsCons
>Standalone email plans
>Native smartphone apps
>No third-party integrations
>High costs for add-ons

What Customers Are Saying

One customer says that "Rackspace provides good service and responds to inquiries relatively quickly," but their prices are "not the cheapest." Another says that "We utilize Rackspace for approximately 45-50 user email accounts. These email accounts are being used across the whole organization and provides top level email access for a county government" through applications like Outlook and Thunderbird.

Scala Hosting

ScalaHosting

Scala Hosting offers web, WordPress, and cloud VPS hosting, as well as standalone email hosting for those who don't need or already have a website. All plans come with free migration, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and 24/7 customer support.

The StartUp plan includes 10 mailboxes for $2.95 per month, with 50 GB of storage, one email domain, and POP3/IMAP/SMTP support. The SmallBiz plan supports up to five email domains, 100 GB of storage, and 10 mailboxes for $3.95 per month.

If you need more than that, you can choose the corporate plan instead for a dedicated email server with unlimited mailboxes for $9.95 per month. This plan comes with 20 GB of upgradeable storage space, a free domain, and a dedicated IP address. You'll also get priority support and advanced spam protection.

All plans come with a control panel for managing email accounts, with options to add and remove users, change passwords, and set up autoresponders. You can also jump back to one of seven "recovery points" to restore your account from an earlier backup.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
StartUp: $2.95/month

SmallBiz: $3.95/month

Medium: $5.95/month

Corporate: $9.95/month
30 days>24/7 support
>Free domain
>Website builder
>More features at Scala Hosting

Pros & Cons of Scala Hosting Web Hosting

Scala Hosting offers a wider range of email hosting plans than many of its rivals, with options for small, medium, and large businesses. With free migration and 24/7 support, it's easy to switch over from another hosting provider. Only the corporate plan comes with a free domain, and you can expect renewal rates to rise after the introductory period.

ProsCons
>Flexible plans
>Automatic backups
>Prices increase after introductory period

What Customers Are Saying

Several users mention Scala Hosting's customer support, saying, "They are quick to respond and offer very good service." Another says, "Scala is a class act, with the right stuff, at the right prices. Support is smart and quick."

SiteGround

SiteGround

SiteGround's hosting plans allow you to create an unlimited number of email accounts using your domain name. You'll be able to access them from a webmail interface and configure all of the usual email settings, including forwarding and autoresponders.

While you'll need to sign up for a web hosting plan, these are relatively affordable, and range from $6.99 per month for the StartUp plan to $14.99 per month for the GoGeek plan. All of their plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 customer support. Plus, you get access to unlimited email and free website migration tools.

SiteGround's platform runs on Google Cloud, so you can count on secure SSD storage and an "ultra-fast" network. Plus, it's backed by a 100% renewable energy match.

Because of its focus on WordPress hosting plans, this is a great email hosting provider for online businesses and e-commerce sites. It offers guides to help you configure your email account with Gmail, access it on your smartphone, and more.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
StartUp: $6.99/month

GrowBig: $9.99/month

GoGeek: $14.99/month
30 days>24/7 support
>Website builder
>Database backups
>More features at SiteGround

Pros & Cons of SiteGround Web Hosting

SiteGround plans can be a bit pricey if you're only looking for email hosting, but if you're also in the market for WordPress hosting, then they may be a great deal. The option to pair your email hosting with managed WordPress and WooCommerce hosting makes this provider stand out from the crowd. They also offer unlimited email addresses, daily backups, and other features that take some of the stress out of managing email.

ProsCons
>Great WordPress support
>Unlimited email accounts
>No standalone email plans

What Customers Are Saying

One reviewer mentioned positive experiences with the customer support team: "The SiteGround support team keeps amazing me. I love the chat function, where I always get a prompt answer and help, in my own timezone." Another says they "knew exactly what I needed to do to get my Thunderbird client set up. It took less than two minutes for [them] to respond and solve my email problem!"

WebhostingPad

Web-Hosting-Pad

WebhostingPad is one of the few providers on our list with a standalone email hosting plan for a flat annual rate. For $40 per year, you'll get unlimited email accounts, POP3 and IMAP support, a customizable spam filter, and 24/7 customer support.

The basic Padmail plan includes 1 GB of disk space, although you can bump that up to 5 GB if you subscribe to the Padmail Plus plan for $50 per year. Both plans come with webmail access, autoresponders, email forwarders, and other useful features.

If you need a website too, you can choose a web hosting plan that starts at $1.99 per month and includes unlimited email addresses. These plans come with a free domain name, a free website builder, free SSL encryption, and analytics tools. If you change your mind, you can get a full refund within 30 days of opening your account.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Padmail: $40/year

Padmail Plus: $50/year
30 days>24/7 support
>SSL certificate
>Database backup
>More features at WebhostingPad

Pros & Cons of WebhostingPad Web Hosting

WebhostingPad offers affordable rates for standalone email hosting, although you may get a better price if you sign up for a web hosting plan too. Its interface isn't as slick as some of its competitors, but it does offer most of the features you'll need for personal and small business email, including support for POP3 and IMAP, and spam filters.

ProsCons
>Flat annual rate
>Unlimited email accounts
>Limited disk space

What Customers Are Saying

WebhostingPad isn't as hands-on as some other providers. One user says, "They won't hold your hand" when it comes to basic troubleshooting, but issues related to "keeping the servers running ... get handled quickly." Another says, "Their cheapest plan covers all the needs of any modern website that doesn't get millions of hits."

Zoho Mail

Zoho

Zoho Mail is one of the most robust email hosting providers on our list, with plans aimed at businesses and individual users. Mail Lite costs $1 per user per month, and supports domain aliases, email routing, email and folder sharing, offline access, and more. You'll get 5 GB per user and can send file attachments of up to 250 MB.

Mail Premium comes with all of the same features, plus additional archival and backup tools, and file attachments of up to 1 GB, for $4 per user per month. You can also add on the "Workplace" option for $3 per user per month, which includes an entire suite of office apps, including a word processor, file manager, and online meeting software.

You can try out Mail Premium for free for 15 days, or sign up for the Forever Free plan, which includes email hosting for one domain and web-only access for up to five users.

Larger businesses can contact the sales team for bulk and enterprise accounts, while smaller organizations can mix and match Mail and Workplace plans. You can get a full refund within 45 days on annual plans or within the first month of your monthly plan, or within five business days after your monthly plan renews.

PriceMoney-Back GuaranteeFeatures
Mail Lite: $1/user/month

Mail Premium: $4/user/month

Workplace: $3/user/month
45 days>Free plan
>24/7 support
>Database backups
>More features at Zoho Mail

Pros & Cons of Zoho Mail Web Hosting

Zoho Mail offers a wide range of hosting options aimed at businesses, including a free plan that won't cost you anything at all. Its flexible pricing options and Workplace tools make it a great choice for professional users, but its support is only available by email and phone call, with no live chat options. Zoho's money-back guarantee is also fairly generous, with full refunds available even five days after your renewal date.

ProsCons
>Flexible pricing plans >Business suite>No live chat

What Customers Are Saying

Several reviewers describe how they use Zoho Mail in the workplace: "We can send big attachments by just adding them to Zoho Docs." Another uses the "tabs on top" feature, which means "we don't have to open multiple tabs to finish multiple tasks." Customers also appreciate the "UI, ease of navigation, features and functions, reliability, admin control panel, down to the last details. All without ads."

Compare Email Hosting

compare email hosting featured image

If you are like most business website owners, you're interested in setting up a domain-specific email address that's connected to your website's domain.

Having your own email address that's connected to your business domain is a crucial branding asset for any small business.

It looks more professional and conveys a seriousness of purpose that free email account addresses such as "[email protected]" simply do not.

Why Having a Business Email Matters

That's why it pays dividends to educate yourself about email hosting and email features now when you are in the process of researching hosting for your website needs.

Believe it or not, hosting plans can vary wildly when it comes to email features crucial for good business systems, even when the plans offer nearly identical site hosting features.

Before we examine email hosting features and tools, we should first examine the basic requirements for email, how email servers work, and the different ways to access email services.

email host consideration

The Basic Requirements for Email

At its simplest, an email service provides five basic individual services:

  1. An email composition tool
  2. A file attachment tool
  3. A tool that sends the email, together with any attachments
  4. A tool that receives incoming email messages and attachments
  5. A system for storing, archiving, and retrieving sent and received email messages

The core differences between various email service providers boils down to different levels of service, flexibility, extent, and limitations for each of these five basic requirements.

how email servers work.

How an Email Server Works

For any email application or service to properly function, it requires several technologies working together efficiently and seamlessly.

There's the technology that allows you to input text; the technology that enables the addition of attached files; and (optionally) the technology that enables rich text formatting instead of plain text in the body of your email.

However, none of those technologies would amount to more than basic word processing without the assistance of another major piece of technology: the email server.

How Emails Are Broken into Packets

As with any content that's transmitted over the internet, your email messages are broken into much smaller bits called "packets."

Hitting the send button packages all those packets together and transmits them to your email provider's email server — that is, a central computer that's connected to the web for the purpose of managing a specific aspect of internet assets, such as your domain/website or your email.

Incoming and Outgoing Email Servers

So an email server handles only email messages. In actuality, you have two servers: an outgoing server and an incoming server.

When the email server "reads" the sender's and recipient's addresses in their email fields, the server makes a connection to the recipient's email server.

It transmits the packets containing the header or metadata (ie, the various fields that convey data about that specific piece of email) as well as the packets containing the actual message.

The IP Address and Domain Name Registry

Each domain is associated with a unique address (ie, the IP address, where "IP" stands for "internet protocol"). It's a bit like a street address for a house or building. The Domain Name Registry stores the data that links up domain names with their respective IP addresses.

In the email transmitting/receiving process, the email server contacts the DNS server for that address information. Then, that outgoing server hands over the email to the recipient's incoming mail server.

The server performs a quick "identity" check to make sure it should actually be routed to the intended recipient. Then the email is delivered into the recipient's email inbox.

email configurations

The Types of Email Configurations

There are different protocols designed to handle the various parts of the email transaction process. The specific protocol used depends on which side of the transaction is being handled.

As a transmission of data and content between two points via the web, email depends on the internet protocol suite — that is, the set of communications protocols used by computer networks, including the internet.

What is TCP/IP?

This suite of tools is called TCP/IP, based on two of the critical protocols that serve as the basis for the suite of protocols: the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP). There are three basic TCP/IP protocols for email:

  1. SMTP
  2. POP
  3. IMAP

SMTP

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol is the standard for sending and receiving email over the internet. It is akin to HTTP, the standard for sending documents over the internet.

Fortunately, any hosting plan you consider will include SMTP access. It has to. Therefore, there is no need to verify that any hosting provider's plan under consideration offers SMTP. It will be available to you.

POP

Post Office Protocol is one of the two available client-server email protocols. POP3 is the third and most popular version of this protocol.

There is also a POP4 that provides a handful of new commands to the existing standards of POP3 for slightly more functionality.

POP configurations essentially assign a "post office"-like role to the email server.

In short, it relays messages, but it doesn't retain copies of those messages.

So your email management basically takes place in the email client itself, not the email server.

This means a decreased drain on email server resources. The downside is that you lose the ability to sync an email account's archives across multiple devices.

IMAP

Internet Message Access Protocol is the other of the two client-server email protocols.

Unlike the POP configuration, the IMAP configuration means all the account's messages stay stored on the email server, together with the metadata associated with each message and data about whether the email has been read or replied to.

Why Choose IMAP Over Other Email Protocols

This is why IMAP is your only choice, really, if you want your employees (or yourself) to be able to access, work with, and retrieve email messages on numerous devices instead of just one.

So, for example, you can check your mail on your laptop, and then re-read messages in that conversation on your smartphone later without losing data or mistaking a read email for an unread one.

IMAP versus POP

The Differences Between POP and IMAP

It's important to understand the differences between POP and IMAP configurations so that you can make the best choice for email hosting for your company.

The Case for POP Email

POP email configurations work well for anyone who uses only one device to access and manage that specific email address. If that's the case for you, POP email setup should be adequate for your needs.

However, it's important to recognize the essential characteristic of the POP configuration: Any email message you receive will be downloaded to the email client of your choice that you have installed on your device of choice, then it will be removed from your server.

What are the Cons of POP Email?

That means you won't be able to check your mail from any other device and see anything other than brand-new messages that have arrived on your server since you last checked your account on your main device of choice.

It's also important to note that while the POP configuration does provide you as the account holder to opt out of email deletion from your server.

However, this might result in an archival system stuffed with messages you do not want to keep. It may also mean that your email client ends up downloading multiple copies of the same email messages over and over.

The Case for IMAP

IMAP is an entirely different set of protocols and processes. In one sense, it's rather like a Dropbox service for your email. Downloaded messages on your email client are also retained on servers, which syncs regularly with your client.

When you view an email in your IMAP-configured client, your server retains that message, but it marks it as "read."

That means it doesn't get downloaded multiple times to your client as "unread" which can cause significant confusion and administrative headaches. In the same vein, if you delete a message from your client, it also gets deleted from your server.

Pros of IMAP

The strength of this system is obvious: No matter where you check and work with your email messages, and no matter how many devices you employ, your messages are organized and synced across all those devices.

Your messages stay stored and marked as read or unread, according to your last interaction with each email.

IMAP's advantages are fairly clear, especially if you have a company with more than one employee who isn't constantly and consistently restricted to a single device.

If you want your employees to be able to check and reply to email messages on the go, as well as in the office or at home or while traveling, IMAP is essential.

Cons of IMAP

Of course, the drawback is likewise obvious. Retaining copies of all those messages means you'll need more available disk space, and that space may fill up rapidly, particularly if there are attachments frequently involved.

However, there are easy solutions for this. Most mail clients offer an archiving feature of some sort or allow you to move files to local folders, freeing up server space.

As a general rule, pick a host that offers IMAP even if you don't use it now. Chances are, you may want to migrate to IMAP at some point in the future.

Access email

Ways to Access Email

To a large degree, how you access and interact with your email is a matter of preference. However, your options also depend in part on the type of email provider you select.

Email Client

Email clients are applications that are installed on your local computer or mobile device, and which download email messages from your email server to your drive.

This approach permits users to compose, send, store, retrieve, and read email messages whether or not there is an active, current internet connection.

Of course, any email client will still require an internet connection at some point in order to send and retrieve those email messages to begin with.

Examples of Email Clients

Examples of popular email clients include programs such as Apple's Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and Thunderbird.

Webmail

Webmail is simply an email system that requires the user to connect to their email via site loaded in a browser that's connected to the internet.

Examples of Webmail

Typically, many hosting companies will provide access to one or more webmail-based email software apps through the user's cPanel or another type of user panel. Examples include Horde, Roundcube, and SquirrelMail.

Free Web-Based Email Providers

Another form of webmail is the webmail provider, as opposed to the webmail software app. The user simply requires a browser that's connected to the internet in order to access their email, unlike the stand-alone email clients that allow you to work with email offline.



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Example of Web-Based Email

The most well-known examples of webmail providers are Gmail and Yahoo! Mail.

email hosting features

Basic Email-Related Hosting Features

Consider the following basic email hosting features before you select a final hosting provider.

  • Number of Email Accounts
  • Available Space
  • Email Forwarding
  • Auto Responders
  • Catch-All Email
  • Spam Monitoring

Number of Email Accounts

It can be challenging to estimate the right number of email accounts you'll need. While some plans will offer an unlimited number, other plans limit you to only a handful — or sometimes only a single account!

Available Space

While your messages may not take up much space individually, they can add up quickly.

Large attachments can eat up even more space. Some hosting companies and plans will limit available space, so check these restrictions, if they exist, before you sign up.

Email Aliases and Email Forwarding

These features are related and help you ensure someone at your business sees all the email messages sent to your domain.

Email aliasing allows you to "feed" multiple addresses into one account for simplified handling.

Email forwarding literally "forwards" email messages from one address to another email address of your choice.

Auto Responders

Autoresponder messages are the scripts that allow your email account holders to create "out of the office" messages, for example. These tools are essential for business email accounts.

Catch-All Email

On some systems, an email that's sent to the right domain but is nevertheless misspelled is essentially lost.

Alternatively, it may be stored in a hidden log in a place where it won't be found until someone goes looking for it.

A catch-all email account quite literally "catches all" email messages, even those sent to an address that doesn't actually exist.

That's an important feature for business accounts.

Spam Monitoring and Filtering

Every email account is susceptible to spam. Look for email services that provide effective spam filters to detect and deal with unwanted incoming mail.

advanced email hosting features

Advanced Email Features and Applications

In addition, the following more advanced features may be useful.

Custom MX Records

If you plan to host your email with something like Google Apps, then you will need to be able to route your email messages to the right servers owned and operated by those services.

The MX records are part of the DNS record and are how you redirect domain-addressed email to the appropriate places.

While most hosting companies allow you to modify the MX records, some do not.

The process itself is not difficult but you'll need to make sure your domain name registrar permits access and editing rights over them.

SPF

Email spoofing is a serious issue. It's how phishing email messages succeed, by appearing to be sent from a legitimate sender. If someone is able to spoof your domain's email accounts, you can find yourself losing customer trust.

Sender Policy Framework works to validate your email messages and thus detect email spoofing if it occurs.

How Does SPF Work?

SPF helps email servers that process received messages to verify the message came from a server that has permission to send messages to it.

That list of "approved senders" is controlled by the registered owner of the domain in question through the domain registrar, using the SPF system.

Benefits of SPF

SPF implementation helps your company avoid what's known as "backscatter" — that is, bounced forged email messages that look like they're coming from your domain but really aren't — as well as blacklisting for spam that you didn't actually send.

choose an email host

Considerations When Choosing an Email Host

If you choose a web-based email provider, you won't need to worry about choosing an email host. However, if you want a domain-based email address for your business, you will have to find a host that meets all your needs.

There are several considerations to keep in mind when choosing a host for your email. They include:

  • The number of email address you will need
  • Types of files you plan to send
  • How important it is that you avoid being marked as spam
  • Archiving and storage needs
  • Uptime and support

The Number of Email Addresses You Need

Two factors determine the space you need: the number of email addresses you expect and the amount/size of attachments you expect to send.

If you expect to need 30 email addresses for your employees, you'll need more space than someone who works solo. Additionally, the kinds of files you plan to send is important.

What Type of Files You Plan to Send

Files such as images (JPGs, PNGs, etc.), audio files, and PDFs can take up quite a bit of storage space. Keep in mind, if your business regularly sends large files like these you'll need more storage

Avoiding Spam Filters

If it absolutely critical that your email messages get delivered properly, consider a VPS or dedicated plan.

Remember that If you're on a shared hosting plan, you and every other person with files on that server have the same IP address.

If someone on your server is a committed spammer, everyone on the server can wind up being added to a blacklist.

That won't happen if you use a VPS or dedicated server. You'll be assigned a unique IP address. Another option is to use a third-party email service such as Google Apps.

Archiving and Storage Needs

If you're planning to use IMAP, your server will be retaining copies of all email messages sent and received. This will additionally tax your server storage allotment and should be considered when choosing an email host.

Uptime and Support

If your business relies heavily on email, then you will need to look for an email host that offers easily accessible support and a solid uptime guarantee.



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Email Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do I need anything special for sending bulk emails?

    Most low-cost, shared hosting plans, do not permit bulk mailing or will limit mailings to a certain number of recipients.

    Bulk mailings are resource-intensive and can impact the performance of everyone on a shared server.

    Some hosts offer a bulk mailing upgrade package or provide support for a third-party bulk mailing service.

    VPS and dedicated plans typically do not have limits set on the number of emails they send and receive, but some guidelines are typically in place to prevent spamming.

  • Can I set up an email address without creating a website?

    The short answer is, no. The only way to have a specific email address (for example, [email protected]) is to have that domain name registered, and have that domain connected to a web or email host. While you do not have to have the website itself fully built and launched to get a domain-specific email address up and running, at the bare minimum, you must have the domain name registered and connected to a host.

  • Is there a limit to the size of each email message, and how do I find this out?

    Nearly every host sets a limit on the size of individual emails, including limits for the message itself as well as for attachments.

    The exact size will depend on the host and plan (expect smaller size limits with cheaper plans) and may be different for incoming and outgoing messages.

    Finding those limits is not always easy. You may have to search through the host's terms of service or support documentation, or use the live chat and ask them directly.

WhoIsHostingThis Team

About WhoIsHostingThis Team

Our writing team comes from all over the world with diverse backgrounds in the arts and sciences. But what links them is their passion for the internet. All together they represent many decades of experience working in all facets of it -- from programming and hardware creation to website design and marketing.
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The Raz

October 5, 2019

SiteGround is actually a mediocre at best email hosting solution. I have them with my web hosting. If there is an issue with mail deliverability, then good luck getting them to fix it. My experience anyways.