What is Email Hosting?

The Short Version

Email hosting is a service in which a hosting provider rents out email servers to its users. While there are free versions available with many hosting companies, many businesses take advantage of the flexibility and power of professional email services. Professional email hosting takes place when both incoming and outgoing emails are managed by a shared or dedicated mail server. These services are considered premium and are significantly different from free webmail services. 

How do you use email? For many email users, paid email hosting might seem unnecessary, but what about when you have important documents like bills, invoices, client addresses, or any other pieces of sensitive information stored on your email account? Additionally, can you afford to lose subscribers or customers by using a generic email like your.business@gmail.com — which can look suspicious and unprofessional? Having your own domain, like info@your.business.com immediately looks better to clients.

Though it is possible to set up your email address via a hosting package, it is considered safer to have a separate provider just for your emails. Having your email attached to your hosting package is still much better than putting your data in hands of free services like Gmail or Yahoo.

But, relying on a separate paid service as Private Email means you can be sure that if something goes wrong, the Customer Support Team will do their best to resolve your issue.

There are plenty of email-related scenarios that could cause significant damage to your business: depending on your system, this could be something as simple as forgetting your password. Most likely, scenarios would involve accounts being hacked or passwords being stolen. You need a service that helps you as much as possible. 

Free providers often make you pay in other ways. After all, maintaining servers, networks, employing support staff, and fixing bugs all costs money. There’s a saying: if a product is free, you are the product. In the case of email, more often than not, that means your data. These providers have to make money somehow, and often that’s by scanning your emails and selling data to ads companies. This can put the safety of your data (and that of any clients you communicate with) at risk. So, while an upfront cost can seem like a disadvantage at first, it actually leads to greater protection of your data. 

If you are considering having a dedicated server, please note that consistently maintaining and supporting email yourself will not only add to your expenses but will also increase the likelihood of viruses, as well as hardware and software issues because you’d need to keep up with all the updates and new policies on your own. Such problems could cause email not to function for indefinite periods of time, which is why more businesses are opting for modern hosted business email.

Paid email hosting isn’t just advantageous for when something bad happens. It’s an easy way to get more reliable and efficient service. 

Even though all business professionals and organizations should have a domain-based email service, most people are unsure about email hosting, confusing the term with website hosting. Even if they understand the difference, they aren’t clear on how professional email can benefit them.

This article will provide the most important information that you need to know about email hosting, different options for your consideration regarding this topic, and some basic technical details.

What is Hosted Email?

A hosted business email runs email servers on behalf of an organization that allows you to rent space for yourself (or your business) for a fee. If you own a domain and want an email service for it, you’ll need to find an email hosting provider.

Most hosting companies will provide you with an email address included in a web hosting plan. However, in these cases, you will get the most basic solution that will be hosted along with your website. Also, you won’t get sufficient disk space for storage or proper spam filtration. The limit for sending emails will also be quite low.

As an example, Namecheap offers free email hosting with our domain hosting packages. However, this entry-level service doesn’t offer the same features as our professional business email. With hosted business email, you get a professionally developed email service for your domain that provides you with a variety of security, management, and spam filtration services that guarantee the best experience for managing your errands.

Unlike popular advertisement-endorsed free webmail, premium email hosting is free of ads, and has advanced email management and creation features. When done correctly, email hosting can revolutionize a business by offering a system to manage your emails well. 

Differences Between Domain, Email hosting, and Web hosting

Since there’s a lot of confusion around the topic of domains, web hosting, and email hosting, we’ll quickly review these three types of online hosting.

Domain Hosting and Registration

Domain hosts store domain names and facilitate their registration. First, you register a domain like yourdomain.com with a domain registrar, and just like a street address, the URL directs people to your website's location. The company that you chose for your domain registration is called domain host. For example, if your domain is registered with Namecheap, it will be your domain host.
For your website to appear online, you need to upload your website’s files to a hosting plan. A hosting package can be purchased separately, or you can get a deal that combines domain and web hosting into a single package.

Web Hosting

Web Hosting is a service that provides datacenter resources — such as server space, memory, and bandwidth — needed for your website’s files to be accessible on the Internet. With a hosting plan, you create and store website content on a web host’s servers so it can be viewed online via a web browser.

If you imagine a website (plus all its content) as a store, a web host simply provides the physical space to display the store’s products — in this case, the website content including the text, images, videos, and anything else that makes up the site's content.

There are different styles of hosting available to reflect the needs of different websites. Web hosting plans range from shared hosting, where multiple sites share a single server, to dedicated hosting, in which one customer uses a shared device or an entire server’s space and bandwidth.

Email Hosting

Email hosting is an online hosting service that has servers dedicated to your email messages and associated files. When you receive an email to your website’s domain address, the email is routed across the Internet and stored on the recipient server. At this point, the server administrators will determine which action to take (receive or ignore) bearing in mind any spam filters, re-routing requests and if the sender is on any blacklists.

The server hosting email can be the same server that’s hosting your website content, a server managed by another host, or two different servers managed by the same hosting company. Email hosting providers might specialize in offering only email hosting services, but it’s more typical for companies to offer bundled emails and web hosting packages these days.

There are certain advantages of having a professional business email: you will have more disk space, the email will be working even if your website is under a DDoS attack, and provide a wider amount of features for your communication.

Free vs. Paid Email Hosting Services

There are several types of email services that a hosting company may offer. The value of each service depends on your needs. Taking the time to evaluate your email needs today (and how they might change as your business or team grows), will set you up for the future. Let’s look at the options available to you.

Free Web-hosting Email services

Web-hosting email services allow you to send and receive mail and manage email accounts through webmail and email clients. There’s a variety of free email hosting options that you are probably already familiar with: Google’s Gmail, Microsoft’s Hotmail/Outlook, Yahoo, and AOL are household names. 

Pros:

  • Free with no commitment or contract.
  • Free email services typically include enough file storage to meet the needs of small businesses and individuals.

Cons:

  • Might have irritating banners or on/off page advertisements.
  • Weaker security measures.
  • Limited help and customer support options.
  • Recipients doubt your authenticity.
  • Less cloud storage space.
  • Email addresses can be harder to remember than you@yoursite.com
  • Free providers usually scan your email content for advertisement purposes and sell this data to third parties.

Professional Email Hosting

It’s not advised to use free email hosting if your business depends on email as a revenue driver — you get what you pay for. For personal usage or start-ups, having reliable and secure software is also beneficial.  Free and standard email hosting packages don’t always deliver the kind of quality that professional or private users need. Professional (paid) email hosting services are most likely to fit the needs of a growing business better.

To deliver the best possible email experience, premium email services include additional features such as:

  • A personalized domain name. This will work towards building your business’ brand. Who would you prefer to deal with? Someone whose email address is marcey@marceyrestaurant.com or marcey17309834@freemail.com. The former, of course, since the person communicating with an email of their company is more likely to be genuine than that of a free email hosting ID user. We’re living in tech-savvy times, and people are wary of email fraud and spam.
  • More storage space.
  • Robust antivirus and spam management. For example, at Namecheap, we're so committed to ensuring our customers have the best possible protection that developed our own anti-spam protection — Jellyfish.
  • Security measures should be powerful enough to ensure stable performance in the event of network failure, and any other disasters — to keep emails safe and secure. With business email hosting services, emails are secured in the host’s secure data center. Email hosting providers keep up to date, fighting the latest security threats. Therefore, their disaster recovery solutions are optimal.
  • No advertisements.
  • Collaboration tools come bundled with many professional email services. ‘Collab’ tools, on the other hand, are specialized systems created to deliver projects by exchanging various information. They include features like shared calendars, folders, address books, task lists, etc. that can be viewed, shared, and edited by a group of people, which can be useful for organizations and businesses to collaborate online.
  • Email synchronization across multiple devices, through webmail, smartphone, and your chosen email clients (such as Outlook).
  • Using an outside hosting company allows you to reduce costs. Since maintenance and management tasks and other updates are handled externally, you’ll need fewer people onsite managing hardware and resources.
  • Folder and contacts management.
  • Large attachments.
  • Backups/archiving.
  • Use of aliases, forwarders, and autoresponders.
  • Mail rules for sorting incoming emails in different folders.

Cloud Email Hosting and Shared Hosting

Cloud Email Hosting

Unless you're working in an enormous enterprise, with a budget to match, you almost certainly don't have the disaster recovery infrastructure and processes that the likes of Microsoft, Google, and other major cloud email providers have. So, if you truly are concerned about disaster recovery for your email, Private Email cloud providers are the way to go.

As with other cloud-based services, the advantages of using cloud-based email are operational efficiency and reduced costs. There’s no need to hire IT staff dedicated to managing internal email servers, and there’s no physical server equipment to maintain. Cloud hosting is the most scalable solution. You can take and lose resources as your user count changes, which keeps costs efficient.

Cloud servers are always kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and recent technological advancements. Benefits include increased bandwidth requirements and firewall settings for additional security, among many others. A final benefit to consider is that email lives on the Internet, so if your system goes down, everything is safely backed up.

Shared Hosting vs Cloud Server Hosting

The quality of email hosting varies depending on what you choose, but we can make some generalizations. With email hosted on shared hosting, the email accounts associated with a website are usually stored on the same server as the website. Typically, the email services offered with shared email hosting restrict certain features, from the number of email accounts included (such as how many outgoing emails can be sent), and whether your disk has space. Shared hosting plans include basic spam and virus protection.

On the other hand, when the email is hosted with professional cloud hosting services, accounts are most likely to be on dedicated email servers. Further, users are often offered more premium features, from collaboration tools to more advanced anti-spam and virus protection services, larger email and file storage, full mobile support, and greater security provisions, to name a few.

Who Hosts Email?

We’ve mentioned the possibility of hosting your website and email with the same provider, but you may prefer to choose different companies for each task. Having a dedicated email solution provides businesses with far more storage space, so there’s less need to delete any emails. 

At some point, we got more comfortable with the idea of purchasing a domain and hosting plan with a branded email account added on (often for free). Most free email companies like Google offer basic email, but you’re stuck with their domain in your email address, which doesn’t project a professional tone for communication.

Traditionally, small businesses had their web and email hosting on the same server, while larger organizations had them split between dedicated web and email servers. Splitting the services like this meant they needed in-house mail servers and IT staff, but over the past few years, many businesses have been getting the benefits of professional email hosting by utilizing cloud services.

What is email hosting used for?

We cannot imagine our everyday routine without checking our email at least a few times a day. Most people choose an email hosting provider for their needs, based on interface, efficiency, and simplicity of usage. 

Therefore, having a professional business email can be beneficial since you get the best solution, which also has a dedicated team whose goal is to make your experience better. 

If you are interested in having the best user experience and a dedicated Product, Development, and Support teams, we advise you to look into paid email services.

You can consider getting such a service for both personal and business needs. The only thing that you need to choose is a suitable plan.

The Benefits of Email Hosting 

We’ve already partly touched on some of the features email hosting provides. However, we want to cover this topic in full. Here are a few additional benefits to consider.

  1. Creating your brand awareness and consistency with professional email.

This step is very important for everyone who wants to provide the business authenticity and build trust with their customers by having an email address for the same domain as their brand/website. 

Also, once you have a personalized email, you should think about creating a business email signature

  1. Advanced security of your emails.

Nowadays, malicious attempts by hackers to breach data security are no longer something rare. Unfortunately, such cases increased drastically over the past decade.

We advise you to seek out a provider with multiple ways to increase the security of your data, including 2FA, email encryption, and outstanding spam protection. 

These options are typically only available if you pay for your email provider.

  1. More options for growth to meet your business needs.

Business email service providers offer different options for any need, from small start-ups to large companies. These can include dedicated customer support, collaboration tools, increased storage capacity, or simply adding more addresses to your domain.

If you are planning to expand your business, most paid email hosting plans will provide you with space for growth.

If you are planning an expansion of your business, you should also consider choosing a provider that makes the transfer process easy.

  1. Higher uptime guarantee in comparison with web hosting.

Uptime can be a game changer when it comes to your email service. Some companies prefer not to include these details on their product pages, however, do not hesitate to contact their Customer Support Service and ask this question.  For example, we are proud to provide no ower than 99.9% for all of our Private Email plans (https://www.namecheap.com/hosting/email/ ). This means that we'll always keep your emails safe and receive all the emails sent to you.

  1. Additional collaboration tools that go along with your subscription.

Usually, email hosting providers include collaboration software to increase the efficiency of the service they provide. These can make life much easier for small businesses by giving them tools to aid their productivity.

Email Hosting Software

We’ve discussed the ways email accounts can be hosted given the different protocols and servers available, but how do we access those emails? The difference between basic and premium email hosting interfaces and capabilities is noticeable.

Webmail and hosting clients vary from provider to provider. cPanel email is a type of web-hosting email service that lets you send emails and manage more than one email account through a webmail portal or email clients. Services like Outlook and Thunderbird can be set up via SMTP/POP/IMAP connections and protocols. This service is a good fit for anyone using multiple standard email accounts.

In addition to email hosting, professional email services feature-rich email software. Unlike free services, business email tools usually exceed what’s required for email alone, including things like calendar and contacts, document storage, and advanced task management. 

This makes professional email software, like Namecheap’s Private Email, a great choice for organizations looking to optimize teamwork. You may create a public space in shared folders; set and control tasks; create and manage work schedules; monitor the availability of colleagues for participating in meetings/discussions; share data; control who has access to specific files; and much more.

How to set up email for your domain

Custom email may seem like a small drop in the ocean when it comes to branding your business, but it’s undeniably important. What do we say about first impressions? They count. 

In just one glance, you can have a meaningful impact on your clients, customers, and collaborators. In general, most people will advise using a custom email address to give your business legitimacy. A standard email address (e.g. @gmail.com) is more appropriate for personal use.

But custom email addresses have some hidden benefits that make them good for personal use as well.  They can help you to protect your personal information, prevent spam emails from reaching your inbox, and offer advanced security. According to published research, nearly 85% of all emails are spam. Among this spam, you will find scam, phishing, and fraud emails that aim to steal your data or benefit financially.

Creating a custom email address is similar to how you go about building your website. First, you need to pick an email platform to use, then connect it to your custom domain. Let’s imagine it’s for Jamie’s Bike Shop. Shop owner Jamie wants to distinguish himself from his rivals with a professional email address.

To set up a custom email address that matches his domain, Jamie would pick an email host. An email host will arrange for Jamie to email from jamie@jamiesbike.shop. Each host will offer a slightly different set of features, a different interface to access emails (a webmail client), and a range of prices. 

Once the provider is chosen, Jamie should proceed with the purchase of his domain name (if he didn’t register it before) and email hosting. Then, there is only one small thing left to do — set up MX records for the domain and start using his new email address.  In case you have decided to go with Namecheap Private Email hosting, you can check this guide on how to setup your subscription after the purchase. You can also try our email for free for 2 months before upgrading your plan.

In case you have decided to go with Namecheap Private Email hosting, you can check this guide on how to setup your subscription after the purchase. You can also try our email for free for 2 months before upgrading your plan.

Can I host my emails on my own server?

Email hosting and web hosting are similar in the sense that neither has to be hosted by your registrar or web host providers. Emails can be routed to different servers and the routing is handled by entries in the DNS (Domain Name System) records.

By updating DNS records, it’s possible to direct different types of traffic to different servers. Making entries to CNAME records for example will create sub-domains to route traffic to different servers and/or services such as calendar, email, and shared documents.

If you choose to host your own email, you’re going to need… a server. The fun doesn't stop there. Your server needs someone who knows how to manage it, so you'll want extra staff. Probably someone with an IT degree. And that's not all. You also need to consider:

  • The expense of hardware
  • Limited network capacity
  • Storage limits
  • Software licenses
  • The responsibility of backing up your email data

And these are in addition to the labor costs involved. And these are just a few of the reasons that most businesses opt for the services of a professional email host, as opposed to running their own in-house server.

There are many challenges linked to in-house servers, including insufficient security, failed backups, and difficulty syncing messages across multiple devices (desktop computers, tablets, and cell phones). These are things that can spell disaster for a business. 

With a hosted email service, you don’t need to purchase any hardware, and it’s unlikely that you will have any software to set up. Setting up email hosting with a hosting provider is easy, you just need basic computer skills.

Do I need hosting for email?

Most of our everyday communications run on email, whether it’s between team members, customers, or vendors for our businesses. It’s how we keep track of our private messages and promotions. 

The demand for high-quality email hosting support has skyrocketed because these services negate the additional costs of finding the human resources to manage in-house email servers.

At Namecheap, we provide secure and advanced email hosting that matches your domain. We offer Professional Business Email with a variety of plans and features for any budget and a less advanced cPanel email which is included in our shared hosting. Our services include web-based email with full browser support and a slick user interface, mobile support for Pro and Ultimate plans, multiple email account accessibilities (to manage different providers from one place), plus easy collaboration features to securely and simply share documents, tasks, appointments and more with a group.

Our prices start from just $0.91 a month, and you can see how we stack up against our competitors by using our easy comparison of low-cost email hosting providers of 2022.


Nadine Pisarenko

Nadine Pisarenko

More articles written by Nadine.

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