Are you still worried about which email hosting services will be a good fit for your business?
With a market size of over $25.70 billion, email hosting services are a popular way to communicate with your customers and send them regular updates. As good as it sounds, it’s also important to choose an affordable email service provider you need.
But, how do you go about choosing one and what are the different types of email hosting? Let’s answer those questions and take a look at the 15 best email hosting providers for small businesses.
What Are the Different Types of Email Hosting Service Providers?
Generally, there are three different types of email hosting service providers and all of them serve different purposes.
- Shared web hosting email — some shared hosting websites will include basic email service. This is the bottom line though since you can’t send or receive bulk emails because of limitations on the email server.
- Self-hosted email server — you can also set up and host your own email services, but the entire process is complex. We don’t recommend this for small businesses as you’ll have to take security, updates, and general maintenance into your own hands.
- Third-party email hosting — the most popular choice, 3rd-party email hosting is also known as cloud email services. It works by paying a service a monthly subscription fee to rent an email server and have them manage it for you.
Important Note: Security is one of the key features you need in an email service. Don’t skimp on premium service here because it can save you from potentially malicious threats in the future.
When choosing a third-party email hosting provider, you need to evaluate important email features like custom domain name support, 24/7 customer service, anti-spam, and anti-virus, mailbox storage, email attachment limit, ease of use, supported email protocols, and more.
Here are some popular key features that are usually added as a bonus tool for some email hosts:
- Syncing across all your devices
- Shared calendar or integration with 3rd-party calendar apps
- Instant messaging
- Email encryption
The following are the 10 best third-party email hosting services (not in any order). Don’t forget to check out the comparison table at the end of the list too!
Keep note that most, if not all, of these options, have some form of security and anti-spam attached to them. If we failed to mention that, it’s probably because we had to mention other features that take precedence.
10 Best Third-Party Email Hostings
Third-party email hostings are the most popular solutions, so in this first section, we’re going to cover the top 10.
1. G Suite Gmail — Google Workspace
Google Workspace, formerly known as G Suite or Google Apps, is a set of Google cloud-based tools for online work. The tools included are Gmail, Calendar, Hangout, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and more.
Although these are standard free Google apps, the difference between G Suite and Gmail is that G Suite lets you manage and collaborate with other users. You and your employees can have the same ending email (e.g. @runcloud.com) and other professional quirks.
Gmail is the most popular email service nowadays, with over a billion active users worldwide. This makes G Suite a great way to stick with using what you already know, Gmail and other Google apps, while upgrading your capabilities to support a professional workspace. Unlike a free Gmail account, G Suite email does not contain ads nor read your email messages. So security shouldn’t be an issue.
Here are some other features you can get from Google Workspace:
- Custom business emails
- Ad-free email experience
- Phishing and spam protection
- 24-hour Google Meet length with noise cancellation and recordings automatically saved to Google Drive
- 100 to 500 video meeting participants, meeting recording, and attendance tracking
- 30GB to 5TB per user. Enterprise plans are unlimited
- 25 MB attachment size via email, anything more must be sent as a Google Drive link
Google provides 24/7 phone and email support to Google Workspace customers as well. Refer to the migration guide to import your email messages, contacts, and calendars into Google Workspace easily.
When it comes to pricing, Google Workspace is a good all-around option. The main attraction to using this email host is that it uses Gmail and other Google tools already. If you’re already juggling a personal and business email, then sticking to Gmail through G Suite for both will streamline your work.
Google Workspace’s pricing can be expensive when you start adding multiple users since the pricing is calculated per user. If you want an email hosting service that’s only about emails, read on.
2. Zoho Mail
Zoho Workplace is arguably the 2nd-most popular alternative to Google Workspace. The basic plan includes hosted email, an office suite, and other tools for work.
This email hosting service rose in popularity as a free service for custom domain email hosting. It was like a G Suite account with domain-specific email, except it was free. Later, Zoho removed most of the email features from the free service and moved it to Mail Lite, their basic plan at $1 per month (billed annually).
Despite that change, Zoho Mail is still a popular, affordable choice for custom domain email hosting that starts from only $12 per year. That comes with:
- Zoho Calendar that can be shared or grouped, together with Calendar Sync for mobile and PC
- Email recall, unsending email that has already been sent
- Email hosting for multiple domains
- Email routing
- Streams – collaboration tool for sharing and posting emails to initiate social-media style conversations
- eWidget and Develop Space for integrations and custom extensions using developer tools
- 250MB to 1GB attachments
- Email backup and restoration
- White labeling rebrand for custom login URL and logo
- S-MIME encryption and digital signatures
Although you’re stuck with just emails and the Zoho Calendar, the features those two tools have are full of functionality.
Zoho pricing is one of the most affordable on this list. If you’re looking for an email hosting service that’s strictly email and calendar, Zoho is a great choice. Otherwise, additional storage, file management, document writing, editing support, and more are features you’ll find elsewhere.
Keep in mind that Zoho’s Free plan is only good for 1 user, the Standard plan is good for 3 users, and the Professional plan supports unlimited users.
MXroute is a cPanel-based email hosting with a very simple pricing system.
First off, MXroute offers unlimited domains and unlimited email accounts, which can be game-changing for some users. For business owners who operate a lot of websites, the option of having unlimited domains is much better than other hosting services that charge per domain.
The only limit that MXroute really emphasizes is storage space. You’ll find the details in the Pricing below. For now, here are the simple features you can get with MXroute:
- Mail forwarding and other basic e-mail protocols
- Afterlogic Pro, Crossbox, Rainloop, and Roundcube for webmail choices
- Between 10 to 50GB of storage space
- IP reputation, using reputable IP addresses so the emails you send don’t get flagged or marked as spam
- Unlimited domains
- Unlimited email accounts
And that’s pretty much it. Although it’s the bare basics, MXroute is still a popular choice because it’s easy and straightforward to use. They don’t sell calendars, though they license Afterlogic Pro in case you really need it, and they don’t sell groupware like G Suite or Office 365 (Microsoft’s email and tool package).
MXroute charges pricing based on year, so unfortunately monthly or short-term users are going to be stuck in a yearly contract. They also don’t have a free trial, unlike some services. But other than that, MXroute has a straightforward package and pricing system. Unlimited domains and email accounts, you just have to watch out for storage.
4. Rackspace Email
Rackspace is a managed cloud computing company founded in 1998.
They’re one of the older tech companies in the industry and all those years of operation come with solid service and consistency.
The first thing that stands out with Rackspace is its compatibility with MS Office applications like Word, Excel, and so on. Their higher-paid plans include file storage, syncing across devices, and MS Office app support.
Here’s what you can expect from working with Rackspace:
- Microsoft Office support, meaning access to Office apps like MS Word, Powerpoint, and so on
- 25GB mailboxes regardless of the payment plan
- Unlimited Email Aliases
- 30GB File Storage
- Shared calendars
- Instant messaging
- Email archiving
While all these are stellar features, the Rackspace interface does feel quite dated. The color scheme and design itself feel like you teleported back to the early 2000s, so your personal taste will be the judge of that.
All Rackspace email plans have the same 25GB email storage, and it supports email attachments up to 50MB.
Rackspace charges for pricing differently. Instead of increasing the basics, like storage, all it does is charge you extra if you want more features. The Rackspace Email Plus plan is $1 higher than the Email plan, but you’ll have Office app compatibility, instant messaging, calendars, and more. Overall, it’s a solid service.
You can try Rackspace out for yourself by registering for a free 14-day trial.
5. Office 365 Outlook
Office 365 is Microsoft’s version of groupware. For those of you who already work with Outlook, upgrading your workspace with Office 365 might be a comfortable investment.
A lot of businesses still use Microsoft’s powerful MS Word and MS Excel applications. Although they aren’t web-native like Google, Microsoft Office is generally faster, easier to work with offline, and is sometimes more powerful (like Excel). These are a few reasons why businesses prefer MS Office over more cloud-based applications.
These are the features you get when subscribing to Office 365:
- 50 to 100GB of mailbox
- Up to 150 MB email sizes
- 1.5TB of mailbox archives
- Hosted voicemail that can provide call-answering, automated voice responses, and a dial-in user interface
- Web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
- Included access to Office apps like Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as well as services like Exchange, OneDrive, Teams, and SharePoint
- Online meetings with capacity for 250 people through Microsoft Teams
- Access to Microsoft Bookings, Planner, and Yammer
- 1TB of OneDrive storage
While Office 365 looks like an absolute powerhouse of features, it does have a couple of downsides. For one, the custom email domain address only comes with their highest plan and isn’t a basic feature.
You can also migrate email and contacts from Gmail or other providers to Office 365 easily, so moving shouldn’t be a problem. Please note that Office 365 Business is not compatible with the Linux operating system.
Office 365 doesn’t offer custom email domains from the start. Having a custom email adds a ton of credibility to your emails and is something business owners can benefit from, especially the ones who do lots of cold emailing.
Aside from that, it’s a solid service with a lot to offer, granted that you transfer wholeheartedly into their workspace.
6. Yandex Mail for Domain
Yandex is a Russian company launched in 1997 as an internet search engine company. Today, the company has 18 offices worldwide and provides over 70 services in total, including Yandex Mail.
In Russia, Yandex is a big competitor of Google and they hold 44% of the market share. Besides being extremely reliable and having a good reputation, Yandex is probably the only free email hosting for a custom domain name today so it’s worth checking out.
Here are the features that come with Yandex:
- 1,000 mailboxes with 10GB of storage space in Yandex.Disk for the free plan. Also have access to collaboration services like Yandex Telemost, Messenger, Calendar, Notes, and Documents
- 100GB to 3TB of storage space in Yandex.Disk for each employee
- Unlimited mailboxes in the company
- Anti-spam, anti-virus, and anti-ads on the mailbox
- History of file changes in Yandex.Disk for 90 days.
All in all, Yandex has been operating for decades at this point and has built itself a reputable name. So much so that according to some reviews on Reddit, their browser and other services are faster than Google’s.
Tip: Linux users should give Yandex a look because it syncs well with Linux operating systems.
If you’re interested in trying out Yandex, they offer a free 30-day trial period for their Basic service plan. Other than that, the difference between their payment plans is really just the storage space. If you don’t need a lot of space but could benefit from their premium features that come with the basic plan, then you can save some money with Yandex Mail.
Mailcheap is another email hosting provider in this list that offers unlimited mailboxes and domains per account at affordable pricing.
It offers many different types of email hosting, from shared to a reseller to a dedicated email server. Here we only focus on the dedicated email servers, which are email servers that you own by yourself.
We don’t recommend going for shared servers if you can help it, since the service and speed are usually subpar or even slow depending on the traffic.
Here’s what Mailcheap can offer you:
- Storage between 250GB to 4TB
- Unlimited domains and users
- Custom branding
- API support for all accounts
- Web-based admin panel (MasterAdmin)
- Roundcube and Rainloop webmail, up to 50MB in attachments
- Addressbook and calendar support
- Access to server logs and advanced server configurations
- Autoresponder and sieve filtering
- Usage metrics
- Personal and offsite data backups
- Data restoration
Despite all those features being a mouthful, it comes at a costly price.
Although its shared email services can rival those of MXroute and others, shared email is generally what you don’t want to have as a growing business.
Mailcheap offers a mail migration tool to import your existing email accounts to Mailcheap without any stress.
Just like Yandex and MXroute, Mailcheap’s pricing is highly dependent on the amount of storage space you need. This is great for users who want more features but don’t necessarily need large amounts of storage. If you can afford the hefty prices that Mailcheap charges you for, you can at least rest assured that you’re backed by some beefy features.
FastMail is another email hosting business that’s been in the industry for more than two decades. It promises private (no tracking), secure, ad-free email hosting, among many other robust features.
This host supports standard protocols like IMAP, SMTP, CardDAV, and CalDAV, and Its web-based email interface is fast and flexible. It also includes calendars and contacts that auto-sync on your phone, tablet, or PC. If you have multiple email accounts? You can set up FastMail to send and receive messages from other email accounts you own to manage all your emails in one place.
Here are some other features from FastMail:
- 600+ alias addresses
- Masked emails
- Shared calendars and calendar groups
- Custom email domains
- Add and manage users, available all paid plans
- Flexible choice of email apps between Outlook and Apple Mail
- Email retention archives to keep your emails intact forever
FastMail also provides an email import tool to transfer your email to FastMail from any email provider that supports IMAP protocol. On the other hand, if you want to migrate away from FastMail or make a backup of your data, you can download all your data on FastMail.
Users can access 24/7 support via email but FastMail doesn’t have a customer service phone number.
With FastMail pricing, both the storage size and a number of features change. The change in storage between 2GB, 30GB, and 100GB per user is the biggest factor between plans though. If you want something lightweight that comes with a calendar and user management, FastMail would be a great choice.
ProtonMail is an open-source email service that sends and receives encrypted email messages.
It was founded in 2013 by a group of scientists who met at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and share a vision of a more secure and private internet. ProtonMail founded and runs all server infrastructure exclusively in Switzerland. Therefore, the service and your confidential data are protected by Swiss privacy laws, which are among the strongest in the world. Here’s an article from ProtonMail explaining why it’s more secure than Gmail.
Besides the ProtonMail encrypted communication, you can even send a self-destruct email message with an expiration time. Email receivers cannot read your message after it has expired and is convenient for sending a one-time secret message.
Here are some other ProtonMail features:
- 500MB to 20GB of storage per user
- Between 150 to unlimited messages per day
- 3 to unlimited folders or labels per user
- 1 to 10 custom domains for paid plans
- Email filters
- Catch-all email feature
- Multi-user support
ProtonMail is the world’s largest secure email service. It is an open-source software funded by the community and it does not show ads or track your data. Revenue from paid accounts is used to develop ProtonMail and support free users, including democracy activists and dissidents.
For all intents and purposes, ProtonMail is the most secure email hosting service on this list. ProtonMail support is available 24 hours a day, 6 days a week via email and forum.
When it comes to pricing, ProtonMail differs them according to storage, users, messages, and more. It’s quite a diverse layout of pricing plans, but the good news is that they have a free package available. You can also opt for extra storage, domain, and addresses at an added cost.
10. Namecheap Private Email
Although Namecheap is more popularly known for being a domain registrar service, they also offer email hosting plans as well — Private Email.
Their email service is powered by Open-Exchange (OX), cloud-based collaboration software for emails, calendars, task management, and document storage.
This means that Namecheap’s email hosting package comes with groupware for increased productivity and workflow. While that might sound like a great idea, it can be intimidating to move to an online workspace that’s as unfamiliar as OX. So, keep that in mind as you may have to go through a learning curve if you go with Namecheap email hosting.
Here are some features you can expect from going with Namecheap and OX:
- Groupware like calendars, task management, and document storage
- 2 to 30GB of file storage
- 5 to 75GB of space for emails
- 1 to 5 mailboxes
- Mobile sync support
- Anti-spam protection
Namecheap’s features are basic compared to others on this list, but they’re solid for the price point—check the pricing details below.
All in all, though, security and data preservation like backups might be a concern since it isn’t included in any of the packages. If you can live with that, then Namecheap is one of the most affordable options here.
The main changes between Namecheap’s pricing plans are the number of mailboxes and storage space. You’ll also only have access to full mobile sync on their Pro plans and above, as well as groupware with their Ultimate plan.
5 Best Self Hosting Email Server
A self-hosting email server is a service you run on your own and it works with other email services. It prevents 3rd party to read your messages without permission and also save on per-user email subscriptions.
However, self-hosting your email is not easy (more difficult than web hosting). Mitchell Anicas, Digital Ocean software engineer, warns that “setting up and maintaining your own mail server is complicated and time-consuming, and there are several affordable alternatives—most people will get more value, in the form of saved time, out of using a paid mail service.“
Mail server is way more complex than the web server. A typical mail server consists of several required software components, Mail Transfer Agent (MTA), Mail Delivery Agent (MDA), IMAP/POP. You may also want to add other components, such as spam filter, anti-virus, and webmail.
The good news is that we have many ready-made mail server packages that make it easier to install all the mail components. Here are several popular choices of self-host mail server packages: (not in particular order)
MailCow is an open-source Docker-based email server suite. It is a collection of containers linked in one bridged network. Each container represents a single application, such as Dovecot, Memcached, MySQL, PHP, Postfix, Nginx, etc. MailCow provides a web user interface to manage the mail server and email accounts.
- SOGo web based email
- SMTP and IMAP
- Easy mail client configuration
- Two facto authentication and brute force protection
- Email whitelist/blacklist and spam thresholds
- Process isolation via docker containers
- Web administration
MailCow system requirements: 1GHz CPU, 6GB + 1GB swap (default config), and 20GB storage (without emails), x86_64 system type. You can find other Mailcow prerequisites here.
Poste.io is an open-source Docker-based mail server that you can set up in 5 minutes. The database is stored in a file-based SQLite database. Update, backup, and migration is easy.
- Native implementation of SPF, DKIM, DMARC, SRS
- Antivirus engine (ClamAV)
- Spam filter (RSPAMD)
- Email redirection, autoreply, and filters
- Quota limit for mailbox space or email count
- Web administration
- Autodiscovery for email client software
- Server diagnostics
- Process isolation via docker containers
Poste.io system requirements: Poste.io does not have specified system requirements. All you need is a 64-bit Linux distribution, enough CPU, and free RAM to run Spamassassin and Clamav, Docker engine running.
They have a free plan with a solid amount of features, and if you need an upgrade, the pricing plan starts at $349/year.
Mail-in-a-Box is an open-source software bundle that makes it easy to turn a cloud server into your own email server for multiple domains.
- SMTP and IMAP
- CardDAV/CalDAV through Nextcloud
- Exchange ActiveSync
- Roundcube webmail
- DNS server auto configure SPF, DKIM, DMARC
- Backup to Amazon S3 cloud storage
- Static website hosting via NGINX
- Free TLS(SSL) certificates from Let’s Encrypt
- Web administration
- Spam filtering, greylisting
- Host email for multiple users and multiple domain names
Mail-in-a-Box system requirements: Ubuntu 18.04 64-bit, 512MB RAM (recommend 1GB RAM).
The basic pricing plan starts at $12/month.
iRedMail is an open-source mail server since 2007. It works on most Linux/BSD distributions.
- Web admin panel (paid professional version available)
- Support different backend storages: OpenLDAP, MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL
- Works on main stream Linux/BSD: Red Hat, CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, OpenBSD.
- SpamAssassin, ClamAV, SPF, DKIM, greylisting, whitelisting, blacklisting
- Roundcube webmail or SOGo groupware
- CalDAV, CardDAV and ActieSync
- Unlimited mail accounts, domains, users, mailing lists, admins
- Paid professional support available
iRedMail system requirements: Fresh Linux/BSD server, 4GB RAM.
They offer a free version, and the next one on the pricing plan is iRedMail Easy which starts at $49/month.
Modoboa is a free and open source email hosting and management platform that support SMTP, IMAP/POP. It is written in Python and released under ISC license.
- Web admin panel to manage domains, mailboxes, aliases and more
- Support MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL database
- Email blacklists monitoring and DMARC report generation
- Mail server monitoring
- Own web mail client
- Anti-spam and anti-virus via Amavis
- Calendar and address book
- Free SSL/TLS certificates by Let’s Encrypt
- Paid professional support available
Modoboa system requirements: 2 CPU, 2GB RAM, 10GB disk storage (exclude emails), and Pyton 3.
If you know how to set up and run everything on your own, then you can use Modoboa freely. However, if you require services such as installation, update or service ticket then they have a special pricing for that. Also, they offer support plans, and the most basic plan starts at €800 per year.
BONUS: Free Email Forwarding Service for Custom Domain
Don’t feel like paying for email hosting and do not want to take the hassle to set up your own mail server? You only need to forward custom domain emails to another mailbox, such as a Gmail-free account?
Try ForwardEmail, a free, encrypted, open-source email forwarding service for the custom domain name.
All you need to do is only add DNS records to your custom domain name, then all emails to your domain will be forwarded to the email address you specified. It also supports Gmail’s “Send Mail As” feature, so that you can reply to emails from your custom domain in Gmail.
RunCloud User Choice: Email Hosting Services
We ran a poll on our Facebook Group and Twitter page. Here are the results:
- G Suite — Gmail is a popular choice for free and paid email hosting because it is fast and reliable. It’s also built into other G Suite features like Google Drive, Gmail, and Calendar
- Zoho Mail — Another crowd-favorite with both free and paid plans. If you want the paid plan, it’s a cheaper alternative to G Suite and offers a lot of integration with calendars, appointment scheduling, and other features.
- MXroute — Affordable email hosting for unlimited users and unlimited domains using cPanel. However, the storage is quite small compared to other competitors.
Rackspace Email — All-around, affordable email service with unlimited email aliases and decent-sized mailboxes. The only downside is that mobile sync, calendars, and other features are reserved for their premium plan ($1 more per month than their basic plan).
We also made a poll on Twitter for the top 4 email hosting services from your Facebook page and this is the result.
At the end of the day, the best email hosting plan is the one that serves your company best. You’ll have to take the time and patience to understand what your business needs, but once you do know what that is, then you’ll know exactly what to look for.
There are a lot of choices and reputable companies out there, so the picking is yours. You can even avail of some free trials with some of these email hosting services.
Categories: Web Design and Development