The traditional approach to managing emails
The majority of businesses prefer to use a ‘client based’ software package such as Microsoft Outlook to manage their emails, contacts and calendar.
Emails are downloaded from the mail server to the users computer (using the POP3 protocol). Under this set up, it’s important that users keeps their email database backed up, alongside all their other important data.
Users are sometimes able to access their emails when away from the office using a webmail facility which effectively gives users direct access to the emails currently stored on the mail server (but not those previously downloaded back at the office).
Gmail – a better option if you’re always on the move?
For clients who are based in different locations or travel a lot, the traditional approach described above isn’t ideal. Users can’t access the emails previously downloaded (sent/received) back at the office. Nor can they access their contacts or calendar.
Admittedly, Microsoft Outlook 2010 (the latest version) can be configured with Microsoft Office Live services to offer webmail access, but most small businesses haven’t upgraded yet and probably won’t for some time to come.
If you’re looking for a great way of managing your emails online, our recommendation is to strongly consider connecting your business with Google’s own online mail service, Google Mail or Gmail, as it is better known.
Highlighted features of Gmail include:
- Over 7Gb (7,000Mb) of free storage space
- The ability to organise your emails using tags
- Threaded view of emails. Each message you send is grouped with all the responses you receive. This conversation view continues to grow as new replies arrive, so you can always see your messages in context.
- Effective anti-spam technology to keep unwanted messages at bay
- Mobile access – access to your Gmail on your mobile phone
Note that other popular online mail service providers such as Hotmail and Yahoo probably offer similar capabilities. But Gmail seems to be the most popular and it certainly seems to have the most to offer. But by all means check out what Hotmail and Yahoo have to offer.
Using Gmail for just one email address
If you want to keep things really simple and are only interested in using Gmail for a single email address, then this can be straightforwardly achieved by setting yourself up with a free Gmail account, setting your business email address to forward to the Gmail address and changing a few settings within your Gmail account.
When you send from your Gmail account, your emails can be cloaked so the recipient is not aware that the email was actually sent from a Gmail address. Various options are available to control how this feature operates.
The other choice – Google Apps
On the other hand, you have the option of employing the services of Google Apps. This is a more serious commitment where all emails for your domain are operated through Google Apps. It’s more complicated to set up (most users needing professional assistance) but presents lots of added features for your business such as Google Calendar and Google Docs.
Google Apps comes in different flavours for different types of organisations and businesses. The most popular versions are Standard and Premier. Whilst the Standard edition (aimed at ‘club, family, sports teams or group’ use) is available for free, the Premier edition requires a regular fee to be paid (approximately £33 per user per year at the time of writing this post).
In fairness, the fee is modest and the features are impressive, offering great value for money. For example, the Premier edition permits 25Gb of email storage per user and a 99.9% uptime guarantee. However, if you don’t have more than 5 users, then the free Standard edition could easily fit the bill.
If you’re a client of Josh.biz and would like to know more about the options available or you’d like us to help you with the management of your emails, just get in touch.
- 10 reasons why Google think you should be using Gmail
- Google Apps Standard Edition (includes a comparison of features with Premier edition)
- Google Apps Premier Edition