What is Email Hosting and Why Does Anyone Need It?

David Utke •  Updated: December 8, 2023 •  Email

Email hosting, on the surface, seems like a waste of money. Why pay for email when you can use a free Gmail account? Well, as an online professional, there are quite a few reasons why you would want to pay for a dedicated email host and a few instances where, yes, it is actually a waste of money.

First off, what is email hosting? Email hosting is a service provided by web hosts and domain name registrars. It allows business and individuals to manage their email accounts on a dedicated server strictly designed for email, providing a more customized and professional experience.

This contrasts with using a hosted, free email client like Gmail, where your data is usually sold to 3rd parties and you’re advertised to.

If you’re curious on the best email hosting options, I created a whole dedicated guide covering different price points, features and how to make a purchase decision based on your needs. If you’re curious on what I use with my team it’s Google Workspace. I also like Namecheap for email hosting as well.

Google Worskspace

My top choice for professionals and small business who need quality email, security as well as a suite of helpful collaboration tools. The best overall email hosting service.

Please note I’m not talking about email marketing. That’s a totally different topic, I’m literally talking about purchasing dedicated hosting for your email.

Why pay for email when Gmail is free?

There are a whole list of reasons why you would want to pay for email. Let’s get to my extensive reasons why someone would want to purchase email hosting.

Professional email address

The first and most appealing reason people want to purchase dedicated email hosting is that it’s straightforward to set up a professional email address for your website with multiple addresses, aliases, inboxes, storage, and helpful email features.

Sure, there is a free way to set up a professional email address using a free Gmail account, your web host, and setting up an email alias. But this freeway (which I explain in my professional email guide) is a stopgap until you get email hosting for your online business.

Storage for documents, videos and files

Even with Gmail, you’re limited to 15 GB of overall storage. With a dedicated email host, you can get more storage for emails, PDF documents, videos, and various email attachments. Some low-cost email hosts provide storage for email only (which is perfect if that’s all you want), but depending on your needs, you have options.

With a dedicated email host, you can quickly scale up or down your email requirements without interruption; on top of that, you’re not wasting storage space that you’re either paying for or not using or inadequate space.

Email hosting cost

Email hosting services are affordable, even at scale (unlike an email marketing service provider). Depending on the email hosting, an inbox with a custom domain can cost as little as $1-2 a month. Most email services are also generous, allowing multiple email addresses or aliases.

The difference is that an inbox is the primary location where new emails are received and displayed for the account holder to read and reply. An alias, by contrast, is an alternative email address that forwards messages to a primary or existing email account without revealing the primary email address.

For more on this topic, check out “What is an email alias and why would you use one.

Email-specific security features

Email hosting can provide a wide range of security features that an online business needs. Upgraded spam filters, malware defense, end-to-end encryption, and two-factor encryption are just some safeguards you can implement to protect your sensitive data.

Email hosts also offer mobile device management (MDM). By enforcing security policies, MDM allows you to manage and secure email access on mobile devices. It’s advanced, but for larger teams, it’s essential.

DKIM, SPF, and DMARC Support

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), Sender Policy Framework (SPF), and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance( DMARC) support is a must if you’re doing email marketing. These authentication protocols enhance email security by preventing phishing attacks and email spoofing.

Better email deliverability

This ties in with DKIM, SPF, and DMARC support. Support for these security protocols helps with your email deliverability. They hit the inbox, not the spam or promotions tab in Gmail.

If you’re sending out emails, you need to use an email address to which people who subscribe to your list can reply. What looks better when getting an email from a website or blogger you subscribed to?

Name@example.com or PrincesBunny67@gmail.com?

Obviously the professional email address. With regards to both security, professionalism and deliverability, you’ll want email hosting for your email marketing efforts.

Customizations

Email customization can affecting everything from how emails look and feel in your email client to how they are organized and managed. With a dedicated host you have a lot of fun things you can adjust that you probably didnt even know you could change.

Signatures

Setup an email signature so at the bottom of all emails you have your contact information, logo and relevant social media links.

Autoresponder

Setup an automatic reply to confirm to whoever email you that you received their message and will get back to them.

Email client appearance

With a dedicated email host, you’ll often have a range of themes you can choose from to customize the look of your client, backgrounds you can select from (or upload your images), and set specific fonts for a unique touch that is on brand.

White-Labeling

This ties in with customizing the look and feel of your email hosting experience, but since you’re paying for email hosting, there are email hosts that will allow you to white-label their service. That means you can have your branding elements, colors, and logos for a cohesive user experience for the team members you bring on.

Delegate email

As an email hosting account administrator, you can set up access levels for different emails. One of the most helpful customization features is to delegate email. You can use this feature with a free Gmail account, but it’s worth mentioning here if you want to hire someone to check your email.

Own your data, no advertising

Because you’re paying for email hosting, you own your data and it’s not shared with third parties typically. You need to check the terms of service for whatever email host you decide to use. But Google Workspace’s policy is as follows:

When you use Google Workspace or Google Cloud: You own your data, not Google. Google does not sell customer data to third parties. Google Cloud does not use customer data for advertising.

Google Workspace

This is a big selling point because the reason email is free is because your data is sold to third parties and there is advertising.

Helpful, advanced features

Finally, a dedicated email host provides many helpful advanced email features, from email filtering rules that allow you to keep your inbox organized automatically by sorting email based on criteria you set to setting up a catch-all email address. Hence, you always get all the critical messages.

Also, there are fundamental time collaboration tools like document editing or email archiving keep your inbox uncluttered to advanced search features just in case you need to reference old emails in the future.

Once you experience how mighty an email host is and all the helpful features you have at your disposal. You’ll never want to go back to hosted free email again.

Who should not pay for email hosting?

When do you not need email hosting? There are a few instances where it is excessive and unnecessary that I want to touch on.

You’re not doing email marketing

If you’re not leveraging email marketing for your business, then you can get away with using a free Gmail account and setting up a simple email forward from your web host to your free Gmail account and the replying as an alias.

Personal communication

If you have a new website or YouTube channel or social media profile with not a lot of traffic, then using your personal email account is fine as you’re just starting out. It’s also ideal if your using email strictly for personal communication only.

Minimal usage of email

Finally, if you don’t use email that much then I see no need to pay for email hosting. If you’re not going to take advantage of all the features at your disposal that an email hosting provider gives then you are wasting money.

Conclusion for why you anyone needs email hosting

Email hosting is required if you’re doing email marketing. It improves your deliverability and creates a more professional experience for all involved. It’s also helpful if you have a large website, YouTube channel, and social media presence where you’re starting to get a lot of messages.

Otherwise, if you’re starting, it’s a cost you can skip on for the first year or so as you grow your online presence. If you have any questions, email me, and I’ll respond using my professional email.

Namecheap

Namecheap is my preferred domain name registrar. But they also offer the cheapest email hosting service that’s actually good.

If all you need is email hosting, then checkout Namecheap.

David Utke

David Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 27k+ YouTube subscribers!

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