The journey from self hosted email … or why I switched to #ZohoMail … #businessmail #hostedemail

Jun 18, 2019

One of the biggest reasons I was hesitant to switch to Cloudways a couple months ago was the lack of integrated email on the VPS. They do offer a couple add-on email options, but none really fit my needs. Their Elastic Email Add-on allows your applications to send emails, but doesn’t seem to allow you to actually setup email accounts for receiving mail. The Rackspace Email Add-on allows you to setup email accounts for what seems to be $1/month, but it’s just basic POP3/IMAP.

While Rackspace would’ve probably handled it, I really wanted more out of my provider. I wanted a shared address book, calendars, and the possibility to add in more collaborative features.

I started by looking at some open source solutions to throw up a small VPS and handle it myself. I started by playing with iRedMail, Mailcow, and Zimbra by creating virtual machines on my XCP-ng server. And it only took me a couple days to realize that I just got out of a VPS management nightmare, and I certainly didn’t want to get into a new one. Especially with new software that I’m not qualified to troubleshoot. So I deleted the VMs.

I then started to investigate cloud mail solutions, including GSuite and Office 365. But, to be honest, I wasn’t interested in paying what they were looking for. Office 365 Business Essentials starts at $5.00 per user per month, and GSuite Basic starts at $6 per month. Typing this up makes me feel cheap, but $60-66 per year just felt expensive.

That’s when I looked at Zoho Mail. They advertise a Free Forever Plan that’s mail hosting for 5 users, 5 GB per user, web access email for a single domain. That seemed pretty perfect, except for the fact that I’m an avid mobile user, and this plan only offers web access, plus I have multiple domains.

Fortunately, their Mail Lite package offers email hosting for multiple domains, IMAP/POP access, ActiveSync, email forwarding, domain aliases, tasks, notes, bookmarks, and even an EXCELLENT Android mail app. And maybe the best part? $12 per user per year for this level of service.

I know, I know, I’m cheap. And expect a lot. Fortunately for me, Zoho delivered. I signed up on the spot, without even trying the free tier.

I’ve discovered quite a few other great features, which I’ll cover in an upcoming post, but know that I’ve been using it a couple months now and I really am thrilled. As a small business owner and a web developer, it delivers where I need it.

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