For ease of setup, site owners often buy ‘hosting packages’ that include domain registration, DNS, web hosting, a default mail relay to send blog updates and site notifications, and mailboxes. As such, a lot of people rely on web hosts for their business communication needs. However, that’s bad practice. Let us see why is it so and review the companies that offer secure, reliable and even free mailboxes for domains.
Why offload mailboxes from your web host?
As a website owner, using a Gmail or a Hotmail account for business communication sets creates a poor first impression. You want an email id ending in your custom domain. For instance, communications from firstname.lastname@example.org look far more professional than email@example.com. The good news is that most web hosts sell custom email addresses as part of the hosting package. However, it is risky to retain email boxes on the same host as your website.
If a site gets infected by malware, your email may become inaccessible, disrupting business communication. Secondly, because of large-sized attachments or due to the sheer number of attachments, email boxes and hence the use of storage can grow in size. On a shared server, a web host may send you notices to cut down disk usage or pay up extra. This is also true for web hosts that offer ‘unlimited’ everything. Besides, when changing web hosts, it helps to keep things simple. With emails separate from your web host, you only need to move the website and not worry about mailboxes.
Mailboxes for domains
Web hosts make it lucrative for beginners to not pay for email boxes. Many kick-start their online journeys on a budget, and so the popularity of this practice is easy to understand. As such, a replacement email service, even with enhanced security and reliability, should not cost an arm and a leg.
Now, G Suite, one of the most popular email inbox service, provided by Google is available at a discounted acquisition price. It is also one of the most recommended email service – perhaps a testimony of its robust referral policy. However, the renewal price* of G Suite’s basic plan is $72/user/year with the first upgrade at $144/year. In a startup or in an early growth phase, we can do without additional expenses. So, are there email services cheaper than G Suite?
When email services start to look more expensive than a shared web host, we need options. Just as web hosting, the mailbox hosting market is a crowded space, making it a difficult task to choose. That there are many factors to compare confounds the selection. Let us simplify it by limiting the decision criteria.
|Number of Mailboxes||1,000||5||Unlimited||Unlimited||5|
* Annualized prices in dollar terms. Data as of July 2019
We are not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned above. However, for the value it offers, we are satisfied with and are happy to recommend the directory-based email service by Yandex Connect. In addition to email boxes, Yandex Connect also provides disk storage, much like Google Drive. Besides, Yandex also has easy-to-use, enterprise-class apps for calendar, collaboration, and project management – all for free.
If you have not heard of it, Yandex is a Russian multinational corporation. It is the biggest search engine in Russia and, like Google, Yandex offers mailboxes too. Besides the Russian language, its services are available in English.
How to configure mailboxes for custom domains?
Irrespective of the mailbox service provider you choose, the steps to configure email boxes for custom domains are similar.
Primary email account
You will need a primary email address, to begin with. For instance, on Yandex, you can create a free email id ending with @yandex.com – similar to how you’d create a
Verify domain ownership
Once you are logged in to your desired email service provider using your primary email account, you will need to demonstrate that you own rights to the domain you are requesting to set up mailboxes for. You could verify ownership either by uploading a small file to the root folder of your website or by adding a text record to your Domain Name System (DNS).
We prefer the DNS method since it allows setting up mailboxes without first having a working website. For its ease of use, we recommend Cloudflare as your Domain Name System. On Yandex, for instance with the DNS verification method, when you provide a domain name (without the www), you will get a TXT record. Copy the value and create a verification entry in your DNS. Refer to the sample record below.
|TXT||@||yandex-verification: unique alphanumeric string||Automatic|
Domain Name Systems can take up to 72 hours for the
Additionally, as the domain owner, you should maintain all authoritative records (including mail exchange or MX record) for your mail host and other email sending services on your primary DNS server. For details, refer to reliable email delivery.
Create mailboxes and configure email clients
This step should be intuitive on any modern email box service provider. For example, the Yandex Connect interface guides you to create an organization and then add persons. Adding a person in Yandex is akin to a directory entry, complete with the person’s first and last names, role in the organization, unique email id, and password, among other things.
The last step in this process is to configure email clients. Again, any modern email box service provider should provide a smartphone app. In addition, users should be able to access their email boxes via webmail, or alternately with IMAP or POP email clients such as Thunderbird or Outlook. Yandex, for instance, offers these channels for ease of email access and, it’s all for free.
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Where do you host your email boxes? Write to us, if there’s a free or a budget email box service provider that you’d like us to mention here.
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