What is the difference between a free email account (gmail, yahoo, hotmail), Google Business Suite, POP3, IMAP and an Exchange email account?

Written by Nadin Thomson

 

which email account is the right one for me?

Free email accounts (gmail, yahoo, hotmail), Google Business Suite, POP3, IMAP and Exchange email accounts and ten years ago you said mail more often than email, just how do you make sense of it all and make the right choice of email for your business.

This article will give you an in depth review of the types of email be it Free email, Google Business Suite, POP3, IMAP or Exchange.., and it will help you decide which one you should select based on the advantages and disadvantages of each email offering. So, read on to determine which is the best email account solution for you…

Free email (gmail, yahoo, hotmail)

Definition

Free email accounts are provided by service providers to anyone in exchange for displaying advertising on the user’s email account and gathering personal information. The most popular free email accounts are gmail, yahoo and hotmail, all of which provide you with an interface that allows you access to your email.

Advantages

  • You can access your email account from any device.
  • You can receive extra features (e.g. virus protection, spam filtering, additional storage and enhanced graphics).
  • You can access additional services (e.g. instant messaging).

Disadvantages

  • You have less services than if you had paid for an email service.
  • Your privacy may be compromised as your personal data could be sold or traded.
  • Your service may not be reliable. Always check the terms of service for the provider you are using to make sure they are available when you require them.
  • You may be limited in the size of emails you can send or receive.
  • You may have limited storage space.
  • You may not be able to send large attachments in an email.
  • You do not have ownership of your email address and data.
  • You will receive frequent adverts.

Cost

Free.

Who it is meant for?

Individuals and very small businesses who cannot afford or are not willing to pay for an email service.

Who it is not meant for?

Small, medium and large businesses as they will require an extensive email service.

Google Business Suite

Definition

Google Business Suite is a set of applications which includes email, calendar, Google Drive for unlimited cloud storage, Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and Google Vault for email retention and e-discovery. In addition to this extra reporting and auditing functions are also provided. For the purpose of this article we will just be concentrating on the email service.

Advantages

  • You can access your email anytime, anywhere and from any device.
  • Your service is reliable as there is no scheduled downtime for maintenance purposes. It has 99.9% uptime and 0% downtime.
  • Your emails are secure.
  • You can customise your own email domain to make your business look more professional.
  • You have access to advanced features (eDiscovery, search, email archiving) at a low cost.
  • You have automatic backups, spam protection and security measures to preserve your business data.
  • You do not receive adverts.

Disadvantages

  • You require to have good internet connection, as a slow or an intermittent connection may limit your access to some applications.
  • You may have issues with converting Google Docs, Sheets and Slides to Microsoft Word or PDF formats. Also, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides do not contain the array of features that are present in more advance productivity suites such as Microsoft Office.
  • You are only able to recover a deleted email or Drive data for a limited period of time.
  • Your business will be affected, if there is an outage or server issues.

Cost

From £8.28 per month.

Who is it for?

Small, medium and large businesses who will utilise the extra features.

Who is it not for?

Individuals or tiny businesses as they will not utilise the extra features.

POP3 Email Accounts

Definition

POP3 which is an abbreviation for Post Office Protocol version 3 allows you to connect to an mail server and download your emails to your local device (e.g. PC, mobile or tablet). Even when you do not have access to the internet you will still have access to your email as it is stored locally.

You can configure your POP3 email account to store your email on the server or delete the downloaded emails from the server so that you only have them on your device. POP3 is best used when you only have one device that will be sending and receiving emails.

Advantages

  • Your emails are always available as they are stored on your local device.
  • You only connect to the mail server to download your emails or to send emails to others.
  • You can open attachments quickly as they are already stored on your local device.
  • You can send or receive any size of email as there is no limit.
  • You mailbox size is determined by the size of your local device.
  • You do not receive adverts.
  • You do not require a licence.

Disadvantages

  • Your email is removed from the server when you have downloaded your email to your local device.
  • Your server does not store a copy of the emails you send.
  • You will not be able to retrieve your emails if your device fails, as they have been only stored locally on the device and have been removed from the server. You will require to implement a backup routine for your device in case this happens.
  • Your device’s storage will reduced as you store your emails on your local device.
  • You are at higher risk of a virus attack as all your attachments are stored on your local device, so you should ensure your virus scanner is up-to-date.
  • You do not have any email syncing if you use different devices, so if you access your email from multiple devices (e.g. your PC, mobile, and tablet), you will only see the emails that you have downloaded to that device.
  • Your emails and attachments may take some time to download as the download speed is reliant on your bandwidth.
  • Your email folders may get corrupted, and occasionally they may be lost for good.
  • You are not able to create different folders in your Inbox.

Cost

From £1.49 per month.

Who is it for?

For individuals or very small businesses who only use one device.

Who is it not for?

Small, medium or large businesses.

IMAP Email accounts

Definition

IMAP which is an abbreviation for Internet Message Access Protocol allows you to view the same emails on all your devices (e.g. PC, mobile, tablet). All your emails are stored on the server. You are able to download local copies so you can use them offline but the server holds the master. When you delete an email it will also be deleted from the server so that you will not be able to see it from other devices. Your sent email is also stored on the server.

Advantages

  • You can access all your email from any device as your incoming and outgoing email is stored on the server. Thus, you do not need to panic if you device fails as you will still be able to get access to your emails from another device.
  • Your device will only download those emails that you have opened which saves storage space on your device.
  • You can use ‘search’ and ‘sort’ functions on less powerful devices as all the processing happens on the server not on the local device.
  • You can have several users share a mutually used mailbox.
  • You are able to add different folders in your Inbox.
  • You do not require a licence.

Disadvantages

  • You may suffer from occasional synchronisation issues.
  • You require to have a fast internet connection to use it productively.
  • Your email server storage is limited, so you will require to remove/archive old emails to get more space or alternatively upgrade.
  • You will not be able to get new emails, if you have no internet connection.
  • You will not be able to view existing emails if you are working offline unless you have previously downloaded them.

Cost

From £1.49 per month.

Who is it for?

For individuals or very small businesses who use multiple devices.

Who is it not for?

Small, medium or large businesses.

Exchange Server Email Addresses

Definition

Exchange, developed by Microsoft, is an email server application and personal information server which runs on the Windows operating system. It manages all your emails and also has additional features which allows businesses to share their contacts, calendars, diaries and tasks with their employees.

It requires you to purchase either server or end user licences. Initially it was promoted to large businesses, but when Microsoft 365 was released, small and medium sized businesses were marketed to as the product has become more affordable.

Advantages

  • Your emails are saved and backed up to the Exchange server.
  • You have full email syncing so you can view you email from multiple devices.
  • Your contacts, calendars and data are all synced within your business.
  • You can add different folders to your Inbox.
  • You can set an out-of-office reply so that colleagues or clients are informed when you are not available.
  • Your emails will have threats eliminated before they reach your network. Your email is protected from viruses by numerous anti-virus applications protecting them. Spam and phishing emails are detected by anti-spam filters.
  • You have access to Microsoft products such as Office and Sharepoint.
  • You can purchase licences on a per server or per user basis.
  • Your mailbox capacity will be larger than if you used POP or IMAP.
  • Your software is regularly updated to the latest version.
  • You will not require to maintain on-site hardware if you move Exchange to the Cloud. Normally, Cloud vendors guarantee higher up times.

Disadvantages

  • You may suffer from occasional synchronisation issues but they are rare.
  • Your folders may be duplicated if the Exchange server is not setup properly.
  • You may run out of Inbox space if you do not delete emails or you have a small amount storage.
  • You will require more powerful servers.
  • You will require specialised knowledge to setup and maintain the Exchange server.
  • You will lose control if you move Exchange to the Cloud as it is no longer on-site but is being hosted. Any upgrades, changes or configurations will require to be done by the host rather than your business.
  • You will require increased bandwidth if you move Exchange to the Cloud.

Cost

From £3.00 per user per month.

Who is it for?

Small, medium and large businesses who have a team environment and require users to have shared contacts, calendars, file storage and use numerous Microsoft products. The businesses will have the expertise in-house to manage and maintain Exchange, or they will procure the expertise as a service.

Who is it not for?

Individuals and tiny businesses.

Conclusion

So which type of email account should you use? This depends entirely on how you want to access and use your emails as there are advantages and disadvantages for each email account type.

  • If you are an individual, or a very small business, there are three options:
  • Your budget is very tight – then you should use the free email services listed above.
  • If you only use one device and you require to access emails and attachments when you are offline – then you should use POP3, as you will always have access to your emails even if you don’t have access to the internet.
  • If you use multiple devices, and you require to access emails and attachments – then you should use IMAP as your emails will be synced so you can view them from multiple devices.

If you are a small, medium or large business, then you should use Google Business Suite or Exchange as they provide the reliability, scalability and productivity and have continual uptime.