For nearly a decade we relied on the Email hosting provided by our web host. It was included in the package, allowed for massive amounts of addresses, and was very simple to set up. It also had solid features for an email subscription list for things like news letters. I always told myself that list thing would come in handy, but somehow I never used it.
WE had set up 5 out of the 5000 addresses available, and email life was good. I could now send and receive email using a custom domain name, and it was POP3 so getting my G3 mac talking to it was easy and straight forward. It also had a slow but functional web interface for webmail access.
As the web evolved, out site has changed many times. We tries template based sited, Joomla, Wordpress, Wordpress with extensions, Wordpress with custom Theme, and so on, But as far as email it was exactly the same from when we started, and maybe it was fine how it was because it normally just worked.
Once we started adding things to our email system like iPhones and iPads it got a little less than ideal, and trying to keep calendars, and contact books in sync was becoming a task harder than it should be.
Yet the single biggest issue was SPAM as the length of time each email address had been live increased so did the amount of spam that account would get.
I read the email instructions from our host and watched all the videos about fighting spam. The idea was to rate each email and then teach the junk filter in the mail client app to move those email most likely to be span to a junk folder. There are many reasons I didn't want this kind of system in place, but I was getting thousands of just emails ever day.
I could not use the rate it and junk it system, because that only worked if I was using one computer to receive the mail. But I wasn't I was using a desktop a laptop and mobile devices. Being pop mail each device would have to fetch the email from the server and treat it accordingly. but not all my devices had the capability of separating the emails like that, nor did I really want the potentially harmful emails making it to my hardware.
as i quick fix, I ended up forwarding my email to a Gmail address hoping that gmail would filter the spam. No I couldn't reply using that address, due to continuity issues, so that was still not going to be a long term fix.
We started brainstorming about what our email should do for us.
- Spam Filter that actually works!
- Mobile connectivity!
- Integration into our Apple ecosystem!
- Seamless sync of contacts calendars and tasks between devices.
- Calendar sharing between staff.
Our list was longer than this but these 5 points are the well the top 5 on the list. and after much research here is what we found.
Enter Microsoft Exchange.
Yes you read that right, I said Microsoft Exchange.
We did much research, and found that Microsoft Hosted Exchange will do everything we wanted and even covers a few of our wishes as well.
It plays very well with our Apple ecosystem, and was easy to connect to our iPhones, and iPads. The outlook app for those devices is very slick and feels very much like a stock apple app. I am currently using outlook on one iPad and stock Mail on another to see what one will be the dominate player after a few months of usage.
Our hosted Exchange plan does not include Outlook for Mac, so on the computers we have been using the webmail login, and again I have to say it’s been a pleasure to use. The user interface is nice looking and it’s not filled to the edges with ads.
This lack of Outlook for Mac is not a bad thing for us. We are working on making all of our communications happen on mobil devices. So having email calendar tasks and contacts in sync across our devices is really whats important here, and I am happy to say exchange does this flawlessly. (It should be noted that the stock Apple Mail app can handle this exchange mail without any issues for those that want to go that route.)
I have been using the Outlook app on iPad and Apple Mail on iPhone and I have to say, I’m having a hard tie choosing between the two. Apple mail is the default app on all the Apple devices and thus is what pops up when you click an Email me link. Plus id integration into 3rd party applications id important then sticking with apple mail make it all that much easier.
Outlook on the other hand, feels like the better app. It has a focused inbox that does a good job of separating you important mail from the newsletters that clog up my normal inbox. Exchange has recently ass the clutter folder to the mix, and when opening Outlook it is much easier to get down to the business of email. rather than making sorting email part of your routine.
What programs and systems are you using for Email?