Choosing An Email Hosting Service. My 3:00am Experience.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had some problems with Microsoft Outlook not opening quite right, being very slow and etc. What I’ve been craving for, for the past several months, is a system that worked in two ways:

  • Local access to email from my computer – when not connected to the Internet
  • Ability to access email from any computer

I went to four email providers that I was most familiar with:
BlueTie, Mi8, Google, Internmedia
Here’s my story of of which provider I chose and why (well they’re still in probation)

My first choice and who I really wanted to go with was BlueTie. Their web based interface is blazingly fast, intuitive and looks so good. However, I couldn’t find a way to import my current Outlook (PST) files. If you are just starting with email, BlueTie’s interface is feature rich and their price of under $5 per mail box is pretty good. On the down side, they don’t have an easy to find telephone number (at least that I could find) for customer support or sales.
I next checked out Mi8 who I have heard about for years. In fact some years ago they used to advertise on the back of buses in Brooklyn. I didn’t go with them as there was no way to setup an account, on demand. I had to fill in a form and get a quote from a sales rep – who I guess will get back to me on Monday (I started this process very late Friday evening). I am looking for a service that has a “24 hour” on demand purchase system.
I was pretty interested in trying out Google as I use so many of their services, however, like BlueTie, I didn’t see a way to easily migrate my old email. I’m sure there is some way, but as I could not find out how to do it quickly nor reach someone via phone, I passed on Google – for now.
Internmedia, at $35 a month for basic email is one of the more more expensive of the group, but I was able to speak to a technician about some pre-sales questions. When I signed up and got stuck I spoke on the phone (3:30am on Saturday morning) and got extensive, cheerful and patient help.
Intermedia’s setup is not as intuitive or simply to understand as it should be. However, I’m now in the midst of migrating my 3GB+ Outlook email file (contacts, todos, etc) to Intermedia so in a few hours I’ll know for sure how well it works.
I also have to give a HUGE gold sticker to my web host MediaTemple. They have an easy to use interface and their tech support rocks. I called them early Saturday morning about how to migrate my email from them to Intermedia and someone answered the phone in seconds to help me.
When you are looking for an email hosting provider ensure they provide a) good 24/7 support b) have a relatively easy to use interface and setup process c) have been around for a sufficient enough time that you feel comfortable that they’ll be hear today and tomorrow.