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There are many varieties of hosted email out in the market today, you are most likely aware of GMail, Yahoo & Hotmail to name a few. These all class as a version of hosted email, as email is not usually held locally but in the cloud, but most personal services are not suitable for business use. The main issues encountered is the lack of a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which should the service be offline for any period of time the provider has no agreement with you to get it back online within a set time period.
GMail does offer service for the business user whereby an SLA with 24/7 support, but this is a subscription based service. The service provided by GMail is very similar to Microsoft offering of Office 365 & Exchange Online.
Rather than using POP | IMAP, Microsoft Exchange is alternative which seems to be the preferred method of email communication for the business user. The biggest difference between POP/IMAP & Exchange is the method of which email is retrieve.
Microsoft Exchange is certainly the most comprehensive method of email communication, as it also ensures that email is kept identical from one device to other.
Furthermore, Calendar entries, Tasks, Contacts & Notes can be synchronized between devices as part of an Exchange Mailbox. In addition, you also have the ability to granually share various aspects of your mailbox to other users within your organisation, making life easier with appointments etc.
There are some varying differences between the variety of email solutions and choosing which one will suit you and your business is key, after all there is no point paying more for features you simply wouldn't use initially.
POP/IMAP - E-Mail is checked every 15 minutes or so for new email
Exchange - E-Mail is pushed to your device as and when the email arrives with no delay
Exchange Example: If an email is received on your phone from 'Joe Bloggs' and then so appears on your phone and laptop. You read the email, reply and then delete the email. The reply is synced to all devices and the email is also deleted from all devices, meaning less tedious deleting from device to device.
POP/IMAP £1.66* Per Month (ex VAT)
Exchange £2.50* Per Month (ex VAT)
* Prices subject to change.