10 Things to Look for in a Business Email Provider

1 - 10 Things to Look for in a Business Email Provider
2 - Business-Class Support and Expertise
3 - Rock-solid SLAs
4 - Intuitive Control Panel
5 - Commitment to Security
6 - Flexible Email Options
7 - Affordability Without Advertising
8 - Spam and Virus Protection
9 - Abundant Storage and Large-Attachment Support
10 - Support for Related Functionality
11 - Transparent Pricing and No 'Gotchas'
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10 Things to Look for in a Business Email Provider

Since email is the single most important communications tool in the workplace, it is crucial that you choose the best email provider.

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Business-Class Support and Expertise

Easy access to an email expert who understands your technical and business needs is crucial. Customer support capabilities can sometimes be limited to self-service message boards, with no email or phone support. When suffering from a critical issue, this is just not enough. Live, around-the-clock support for both your email application and the associated hardware reduces the risk of outages.

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Rock-solid SLAs

Don't settle for anything less than strict uptime standards and real accountability if unplanned downtime occurs—and simply promising 99.99% uptime (or any other uptime number) isn't enough. You also need to know how the provider defines terms such as "uptime" and "unplanned outage," how the provider communicates with customers regarding outages and how the provider compensates customers for downtime.

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Intuitive Control Panel

Look for a single interface allowing easy access to essential functions, including automatic backups and account management. Especially if you're intending to change providers or switch from an in-house to a hosted environment, the move will be invisible to most users but may require training for the IT team.

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Commitment to Security

Data centers should be designed to protect data from physical threats, technical threats and power outages. Make sure the provider's privacy and security measures are geared toward business users charged with protecting proprietary data and communications, not casual email users. Also, ensure your provider meets any security and compliance requirements and regulations for your company. For stringent security or compliance needs, a dedicated, single-tenant configuration is appropriate for hosted environments.

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Flexible Email Options

Define your requirements—interface usability, browser support, mobile options—and ensure that your provider meets them while delivering your preferred mix of email tools. Look at different options among the full complement of Webmail, Hosted Exchange and hybrid options, and the ability to deliver shared or single-tenant server space.

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Affordability Without Advertising

When working with an email provider that makes money primarily from advertising, your performance, reliability, security and support might not be top of mind. Their real customers are advertisers, not consumer users. Plus, you don't want the intrusive scans of your email to serve annoying, time-wasting ads.

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Spam and Virus Protection

Look for security and filtering protocols that inspire real confidence. The good news is that most hosted email providers excel at stopping spam and malware before it reaches your employees' inboxes. The bad news is that there are exceptions to the rule—and they can cost you dearly.

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Abundant Storage and Large-Attachment Support

You don't want to have any involuntary, space-driven message deletion or errors and delays when sending large files. Lack of mailbox storage inconveniences users and results in the deletion of valuable messages.

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Support for Related Functionality

Integration of email, collaboration and productivity tools should be smooth, increasing overall efficiency. Third-party server integration, for example, can add significant complexity to the process, so ensure you have the support you need.

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Transparent Pricing and No 'Gotchas'

You should not have any bait-and-switch introductory pricing, hidden fees or long-term contracts with stiff cancellation penalties. The provider should be upfront about the pricing model, as well as pricing considerations in the future as your needs expand.