Deciding Between Offsite and Inhouse Email Hosting

Brian St. Marie - Sr. Systems Engineer

There comes a time in the development of all companies where they begin to seriously consider purchasing a company domain name and using company email addresses.  However, company email addresses require an email host.  The choice is typically between a third party company which hosts the email accounts for a monthy fee or a company server supported by internal IT or IT consultants.  But how can you know which choice is right for your company?

On first glance, having your email hosted offsite can seem to be a very cheap and effective way to get started.  There are no upfront hardware costs and all support and configuration is typically included in the monthly fee.  You are guaranteed the highest uptime possible for your service and also guaranteed the latest hardware and software will always be available to you.

However, that monthly cost can add up over time, sometimes exceeding the cost of having your own server in a year or two.  And the support can often be lacking, especially when complex or unique configurations are required for certain users. Most hosts profit from having a "boiler plate" model of hosting which they use with all their customers; having minor custom changes for a few of your users may be impossible, or not worth the headache.

In most scenarios, we find that once a company approaches 10 email users, purchasing an internal email server becomes a good option.  The upfront costs can often be offset by two or three year leasing options, which are often comparable to the monthly fees being paid to host email offsite.  In addition, internally hosted email can result in a more dynamic and customizable environment, resulting in happier employees and executives.

On the downside, an internal server can never have the reliability and stability offered by some of the major email hosts out there.  While it's certainly possible to build a large amount of reliability into modern servers, there is still always the possibility that your email could be down for a day or two when you're relying on a single machine.  And there will be upgrade costs associated with an internal server down the road, whether it be a software or hardware upgrade.

At the end of the day, deciding whether an offsite or internal email solution is right for you depends on a number of factors, including cost over time, versatility, and reliability.  If you're struggling with deciding what's right for your company, Contact today and we will help you make the best decision possible for your circumstances.