Whether it’s a customer emailing your business or your favourite shoe brand sending you a promotion, we all access our emails daily. But have you ever wondered where all your email information is stored?

Email hosting is a service offered by hosting providers, where they rent out mail servers to customers to store their email data. For example, if you’re a business and you use an email hosting service, all the associated messages and files your company exchanges over email are stored on this separate mail server.

Sure, there are free options available, but a professional email hosting service can provide you with more power, flexibility and data. It also gives you the chance to have a uniquely branded email address, rather than relying on a generic domain like @gmail.com or @live.co.uk.

Who uses email hosting?

Many email users can get by perfectly well without paid email hosting, and use public providers that do the job. That said, there are lots of SMBs and organisations who opt for paid email services. One reason is f they often experience high volumes of email traffic and need bigger storage. But, it's also because if you're a pro, you want to use a professional email address too.

What’s the difference between email hosting and other types of hosting?

You’ll no doubt have noticed that the word “hosting” appears in a lot of different terminologies. But what's the difference?

Email hosting

As we’ve established, email hosting is a professional service offered by hosting providers. It uses a separate mail server that's rented out to users and handles all their incoming and outgoing emails.

Web hosting

If you've built a website, all of your data and files need to go somewhere, right? That's where web hosting comes in. Essentially, it's a service that provides the storage, bandwidth and memory needed to display a site to visitors and keep it functioning smoothly. It's similar to email hosting, except it deals with website files instead of email files.

Domains

Although not an industry term, you may see "domain hosting" thrown around. The big difference is that domain names aren't really hosted in the same way as email hosting and web hosting. A provider will store your domain information and facilitate the registration of your domain names, giving you exclusive use and ownership of a specific domain.

Free email vs. paid email

If you’re setting up a business, organisation or any other type of project that needs email, you have different options to consider, the main two being free and paid.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both free and paid email, it just depends on your priorities and the nature of your project.

Pros of free email

  • Free – It’s fairly self-explanatory, but free email is just that - free. So if you’re dealing with a small project or start-up that’s on a budget, free email could be the perfect solution.
  • Easy to use – Getting set up with a free email provider is super simple, all it takes is a few details and… et voila!
  • Flexible – Given that you’re not tied into a payment plan, free email gives you the flexibility to move to a different provider at any point.
  • Some free extras – Most free email providers will offer enough complimentary storage for a single user, like a freelancer, or even a very small business.

Cons of free email

  • Ads – If you don’t pay for your email service, it’s likely that you’ll encounter a lot of pesky targeted ads and banners.
  • Less secure – While free email is fairly secure, you don’t get the same level of protection you would with paid email hosting.
  • Limited space – The amount of free storage you get is limited, so you could end up paying for more space if you exceed your allowance.
  • Less professional – You can’t use a custom domain name and using an @hotmail.com address could call your legitimacy into question and put off customers.

Pros of paid email

  • Credibility – You’ll be able to set up multiple email addresses that exactly match your domain name, clearly signalling your professionalism.
  • Scalable – Paid email hosting also gives you more room to grow. If you run out of storage as your project grows, you can usually upgrade your package without too much fuss.
  • More secure – Most email hosting providers make security a priority. For example, we use the very latest antivirus and anti-spam protection to keep your data safe.
  • Extra functionalities – This could include features like email whitelists and blacklists, varied autoresponders, archiving services and email authentication.
  • Better support – Going with a third-party provider often means you get better dedicated support. Some providers, like us, will have an expert team on hand 24/7 to help you with your email hosting.

Cons of paid email

  • Server dependencies – If you’ve got email hosting as an add-on to your web hosting package, you may find that your email relies on the status of your website. So if the worst happens and your site temporarily goes down, your email could go down with it.
  • More expensive – When you need to cut costs, paid email could be an expense that your project can't afford.
  • Contractual ties – If the provider you choose only offers long-term deals, you could end up trapped in a contract you can’t leave early.

When money’s tight, you might think that using free public email is your only choice, but some hosting providers (including us) offer complimentary email hosting with their web hosting packages.

So if you’re paying for web hosting already, it’s worth checking whether you can get email hosting as an added extra. But if you’re keen to invest in premium paid email hosting, you’ll likely get access to a range of useful features, as well as more support from your hosting provider.

Overall, the type of email hosting you need depends on your budget, your long-term goals and how central email is to the daily operation of your project. If you do opt to go down the paid route, our Email Hosting is available in a range of affordable packages, with features and support to suit your needs.