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Web Hosting Niche - Email Hosting

Sangeetha Naik

Niche hosting is the new catch word in the Web Hosting industry. Niche Web hosts identify specialized customer groups and customize their plans, provide specific hardware and software configurations and knowledgeable tech support in that niche.

Email Hosting is a Web Hosting niche aimed at Business grade email users and high volume newsletter providers. These are serious customers who use specialized email service as a vital part of their business.

Email hosting is different from mainstream web hosting accounts that 'also' provide email along with webspace, database, ftp and other services. If I were to pick a $10/month Web Hosting account from the umpteen Web Hosts that are around, I can also get unlimited email accounts along with pop, smtp and more. So what would be different ?

Reliability

Email hosting companies should provide reliable email services. The fact is that many Web Hosts club webserver, database, email, ftp and more and bundle them into one server. Services take up resources and one service may be affected by the load taken up by another service.

For example the Email service can be affected due to high load caused by the Webserver. There are various scenarios that can cause this. A slashdot effect on someone's site(maybe your own site) can result in thousands of simultaneous hits and result in the Web server shutting down. The email server cannot effectively deliver or send email when it has so little resources. Email queues up, resulting in delay in getting that crucial email you were waiting for.

In another scenario, a database backup job may result in the server going slow for an hour, affecting the email service.

Email Hosting companies, on the other hand, run only email services on their servers. The fact that there are no other services hogging the same resources, itself improves reliability.

Serious business users prefer to keep email with a specialized Email hosting provider, away from the problems they might face with their website provider. They don't want to move their email accounts around from one Web Host to another, should they be dissatisfied with any other service.

[email protected]

Email hosting providers allow users to host a domain such as yourdomain.com.

Some Email hosting providers allow customers to host more than one domain on the same email hosting account. For example if you have emails @ >yourofficedomain.com, yourhomebusinessdomain.com, yourpersonaldomain.com, you can use one Email Hosting account for all these domains.

Disk space and traffic

As with any Web Hosting niche, disk space and traffic needs to be tailored to the requirement of the niche user. A high storage business email account would allow users to store email in the 5GB range. Anything above 1G per account is standard.

POP3, Imap, SMTP support

POP3 allows users to download their email on programs like Outlook or Eudora. Business users rarely use webmail any more. POP3 has become a defacto standard, and email users have come to expect it.

Imap allows users to read email using programs like Outlook, without downloading all of them. For example if you receive 100MB of email daily, you may want to quickly browse through them, and download the ones you want to read first.

SMTP allows users to send email through the email server. Some Web Hosts, especially those providing low cost web hosting block this service in order to reduce the incidence of spam. Email Hosting providers on the other hand, install spam reduction tools to allow you to send regular email , but not large volumes of email, which may result in spam.

Special tools like webmail for online viewing of email is also an essential.

Confidential and secure

A big part of a Email hosting company is the trust that their customers place in them. Niche providers in this space are seen as more secure compared to mainstream hosts. As the servers are dedicated only to email, users do not have to share space with shell users, ftp users or script hackers. There is less chance of a cracking attempt or anyone reading their email.

Better security is achieved by encrypting POP, IMAP and SMTP. This means that if your ISP is compromised, and someone monitors the ports, they would still not be able to read your email because it is encrypted.

Better virus and Spam protection

Web Hosting control panels like Hsphere, cpanel, plesk and ensim bundle with antispam and antivirus . An email host, however would invest in additional commercial grade Anti virus and Antispam protection. Sophos is a good example of a commercial antispam and antivirus solution.

The success of a good Email host depends largely on how far spam and virus can be filitered. Spam reporting tools are also an essential.

Technical support for Email Hosting

The tech support team should be fully aware of Email hosting issues. Typical issues that come up would do with the kind of tools that a customer would use, like the Web mail, email forwarding, virus and spam protection. The holy grail of the Tech support team would undoubtedly be reliability of the email server.

The best Email host would be reliable, spam/virus free and totally secure.



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Thu Apr 20 17:58:42 2006: 1947   anonymous


I have to agree with you 100% I started my business first as a web host provider who did exactly what you said.... bundled most services onto one server. Since, I have have grown and separated services out, installed an external Barracuda Spam Filter, implemented additional backup abilities and moved away from cheap POP/IMAP accounts over to Kerio Mailserver and have started marketing business/professional class email services separately from web hosting as it should be.

Sometimes it is a hard sell because many small businesses still do not grasp the difference. To them email is email. When I made the transition, rather than charge my existing customers with higher priced email, I grandfathered them into the original bundled agreement we had. The response I received from these customers was fantastic! The did not know that such email service was available and absolutely love it.

I have done some business expos and have started marketing mostly the email service and have started to do very well. Businesses are now finally saying enough is enough with poor, unreliable email and have started to take advantage of premium services such as my email.

Many small businesses are looking for an exchange solutions for collaboration but cannot afford the high cost of Microsoft licensing, nor a server or an IT staff to maintain it. That is where my company comes in.

Great article.... hits very close to home. If anyone is interested in more information about my services, please visit my website at www.bigmountaindesign.com



Thu Apr 20 22:54:44 2006: 1948   BigDumbDInosaur


Email Hosting is a Web Hosting niche aimed at Business grade email users and high volume newsletter providers. These are serious customers who use specialized email service as a vital part of their business.

Sounds like spam-mongering to me. <Grin> I've literally hundreds of such sites blocked -- I really don't want to know about their supposedly-superior stock picks pompous predictions.



Thu Apr 20 23:09:55 2006: 1950   anonymous


There are business class email users out there and there are spammers. Those messages of which you have blocked are undoubtedly spammers. I believe there is a market and a demand for premium email solutions, none of which are with the intentions of spamming.

Why would spammers care about the security or reliability of a mail server or of collaboration? Spammer typically find security holes in mailservers or find open relay servers and have at it. As soon as the administrator catches on or the server crashes, gets blacklisted, etc. then they move onto another vulnerable server. Again, having nothing to do with the difference between basic bundled email services and premium hosted email solutions. If anything, this just provides one additional reason why businesses who rely on their email for communication looks to a niche provider who can provide them with better security and email redundancy.

As for newsletters, I have several non-profits who use them to mail to their self-subscribed mailing list. If the end user doesn't want to receive the email anymore, then they can unsubscribe just like they did to subscribe. Also, spammers are not going to pay for a premium service when there are many free php scripted mail list programs and open source solutions out there that can send a simple outbound email (sendmail, mailman, etc.).

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