One of the most popular question in web hosting forums, Facebook groups, or Quora is, “Which Email Provider Should I Use?” You will also find lists published by many tech blogs on this topic. Many of them update the lists regularly, or republish their lists as new posts that are titled,
“Which are the Top Email Hosts for 2019”most commonly asked questions about email hosting
“Which are the Top Email service providers for 2020”
In this post, I will list the email service providers I have used in the past. Also included are other services or sites that have mostly positive reviews. You will also find a list of references or resources at the end of this post.
What is Email Hosting ?
In plain, simple words, email hosting service offers you to send and receive emails for your domain. In order to do that, you have to ‘connect’ your domain to the provider. We will cover this later in this post. Typically,most shared web hosting plans include an email hosting plan. Some have a limit on the number of email accounts, others have a cap on the number of emails that can be sent per hour. This offers a great option for those who have a limited budget. or, for those who are looking for convenience and single source for support.
However, it is a prudent practice to separate your web hosting from email hosting. For a couple of reasons: Say your website goes down because of some issue with the server on which it is hosted. Or, your service provider, that is, web host goes under. In that case, your e mails will become in accessible. You can not only lose your website, but possibly all your communication, contact, and so on.
Hosting email and website on separate account offers an opportunity to hedge your risks.
In contrast, if your email is hosted on a different service or site, chances of both your services (email and web hosting) going down are lesser. In case website goes down, you can inform your customers, visitors, newsletter subscribers, etc, about the same, with an ETA for resolution, Conversely, if y our email service takes a hit, you can post updates on your website.
Who are the Most Recommended Email Service Providers?
In no particular order, I will list the providers I have used, or have heard positive reviews about. In this list, you will also find my remarks, or feedback if any.
MxRoute : one of the most mentioned, regarded services. The opinions of most people are positive, others have extreme feedback because of lack of support or the policies of this provider. You might want to check out this post on how MxRoute email delivery works.
Zoho (freemium, free plan does not have imap, 5 accounts only) not sure about their server location but it is most likely west coast US .
Yandex mail– Many people have misgivings about them. I had used them briefly in the past, before moving to zoho mail.
Inbox.eu : This Latvia based company offers two plans- Personal and Business. I had used inbox.eu in the early days of baalgatha.com, and am quite pleased with the service. I would recommend you check it out!
Rorarii.com, the host I use for gaathastory.com charges around USD 3 per year per domain, with no cap on the number of accounts or the size of mailbox. Other hosting providers such as drserver also offer email hosting.
Update January 2021: Adding vivaldi.net email service to this list, one of the few who offer free imap / pop3 based emails. The folks from Vivaldi Browser community are doing some awesome work, including the option of sending encrypted emails.
Business or Enterprise Accounts
You will find mention of Rackspace Email, Office365 and Google Suite, when you look for email service providers for business or enterprise category. Zoho mail is another addition to that list. The first three also offer plans for individuals or a person who has a small group of domains. Zimbra mail is another hosted email solution that is offered by some providers.
Email Hosting for Small business or Startups (or solopreneurs)
Most of us are okay with the free email hosting services like Hotmail, gmail, yandex, yahoo, and the likes. But if you want email with your custom domain (e.g. you @ yourdomain.com) then a hosted email plan is the way to go. But the cost might be prohibitive, and the email plans offerd might be an overkill for most small businesses, startups and solopreneurs. For them, a service like hosted email from Rorarii might be an option.
Tip: You can also sign up for email hosting plans offered by resellers of some of the above providers. Smallweb, for example, offers email plans from MxRoute. So also Nexusbytes, Webhorizon, and many others.
Software for email marketing : This is a different category altogether, and I might write a separate post on it in the future.
Update: June 2020
I have added some more options to the above list to include the following:
Update: November 2020
I have added more options to the above list. Time permitting, I plan to review some of these providers in the coming months.
For the Do It Your Self Folks / Self-hosted email
I came across Mail in a Box recently. Note that self hosting email is not recommended for most people.
For the premium users: there is hey.com
Also check out Postalhq, which describes itself as an open source self-hosted email platform.