A few months ago, customers using a local provider’s email service learned a painful lesson – not all email services are created equal. Other news articles have already dissected the root cause and the local provider has promised changes to ensure greater redundancy, but this incident is a helpful catalyst to ensure that your email provider is a good fit for your needs.
Next to our phone numbers, email is probably the most important contact method we use for everyday communications so it’s a worthwhile investment to understand your options. And although it can be a logistical challenge to change your primary email address, the peace of mind or additional benefits from a premium provider may be well worth the effort.
The range of email providers, cost, and available features varies widely so it is useful to first differentiate by personal vs business use.
Personal use email is typically an email only account often with a domain that represents the provider (such as @yahoo.com, gmail.com, charter.net, or nwi.net). Personal use emails are often free – either because they are bundled with your internet service or because you agree to give up some privacy (as is the case with Google, Yahoo, or other large tech companies). Here are some important considerations:
- Security (in today’s environment this should always be one of your top considerations with any critical data). Does the provider have (or possibly enforce, without even giving you the option) multi-factor authentication? Do they have additional security measures in place to warn you when your password was changed, or they detect unusual login activity (eg from a foreign country).
- Portability. Is the email address easily “ported” if you move or otherwise have a life change? For instance, if your email address is from your internet service provider and you opt for a different provider, what options will you have to continue to use the same email address?
- Redundancy. What is the provider’s track record for uptime and data loss?
- Interface. If you plan to access your email via a web browser, is their interface to your liking? Or if you are more familiar with Outlook, can you easily sync it to Outlook, but also see the same updated inbox on the web interface and your phone?
My recommendation is to use a large tech provider with a proven track record of security. It is difficult to find fault with Google (gmail.com), and Microsoft (outlook.com). Google goes to great lengths to secure your account, warn you of possible unauthorized logins, and a gmail account is easily accessible on just about any device. Yes, you may be accepting some loss of privacy, but at an aggregated level and with very little incremental risk as compared to other tracking that already occurs during everyday computing. Additionally, I suggest syncing email to your local PC or Mac with an email client such as Outlook. That way, if the provider goes offline or loses your data, you’ll still have a local copy of it on your PC.
Business class email offers a much more expansive range of features, often bundling calendar, contacts, storage and countless other collaboration features. One of the main benefits of business class email services is the ability to “byod” – eg bring your own domain – in order to customize your email @yourbusinessname.com. In addition, 3rd party commercial backup solutions are widely available. Google (Workspace) and Microsoft (Microsoft 365) are the two dominant providers, each offering features targeting different use cases (for instance, Google is commonly found in the education sector, whereas Microsoft dominates in corporate environments). Although both Microsoft and Google have had well documented outages over the years, both of their overall uptime track records are very, very good. And because pricing is similar between the two, for most organizations, selecting between the two is most often driven by feature requirements and not security or redundancy (which both perform equally well).
Email is such a critical aspect of our daily lives that it is undoubtedly worth your time and effort to ensure that your service provider meets your needs and is dependable. If your are considering a change in email providers or would like to explore options, we can help. Contact SimplePowerIT at (509) 433-7606 for a free initial consultation.