When creating my backup plan for my laptop and data one of my concerns was making sure my email is properly backed up as it my main communication tool with family, friends, and most importantly, my clients.
To provide the best protection for email, along with additional functionality, I decided it was time to move from my free domain email hosting to a hosted Exchange solution even though this would incur a monthly fee for my email. Having to pay a small fee for a hosted solution that helps protect my data seemed like a no-brainer at this point.
Traditionally, and even now, Microsoft Exchange has been the choice a companies for providing email to employees. Typically MS Exchange was installed on a server that was located inside the company. As the Internet started to explode and cloud services started to gain popularity hosted MS Exchange was introduced. Hosted Exchange enabled more companies and individuals to take advantage of the features of MS Exchange without having to manage the platform or pay a small fortune for the software and management.
As I was researching several solutions, some of which I already use for clients, I started to notice that the number of companies providing hosted Exchange services had increased over the last couple of years. I started to dig deeper while comparing the different services. I was looking at features, storage space, interface, cost and user reviews. After much research and digging I finally decided to go with Microsoft Office 365.
My choice was based on the features – hosted email, SharePoint site (online document sharing, calendar, contacts, etc.), anti-spam, email archiving and Office Professional Plus 2010. There were other features but those features were more for a company such as hosted voice mail. The price of this of this package is $20 per month / per user which is not much more expensive than other hosting options that only provide email services.
If all these features are not necessary there are other packages available that provide a subset of services. For example, if only hosted email is needed than that service can be purchased for $4 per month / per user – not a bad deal to keep your email safe!
There are two methods for accessing hosted email – the first in using webmail in a browser or via MS Outlook on the desktop. I personally like using Outlook it can be configured to download my email to my computer while keeping a copy in the cloud – it is an added layer of protection. In addition, it is easier to keep email organized in Outlook with folders, rules and flags.
Hosted Exchange also includes contacts and a calendar as part of the package. This makes managing contact and calendar easier as they are all stored with the email. By having all the information consolidated it is easier to create appointments, check activities with contacts and keep update-to-date with social status updates.