May 25th, 2014
This last week the mail servers where I have my lohrman.com site hosted have been either down, delayed or returning wacky errors. This demonstrates what reader Christian has been pointing out for some time. In PFRE blog comments and in the flickr discussion forum Christian has warned:
Never have your domain and hosting from the same company, you never want to rely on one company for both, you are essentially trusting them with your entire online existence. In fact the best practice is to have them separated AND use a separate company to manage your DNS (like dnsmadeeasy.com), allowing you to point your domain name to multiple places. For example my domain name points to a web host for my website (A Record) and points to google apps for business for my email (MX Record). This separates my email from my website, ensuring that if/when my site (webhost) goes down my email will still be working just fine.
This is GREAT advice and I’m in the process of implementing Christian’s advice for my e-mail server. I should have paid attention to Christian’s warning earlier. More on how to do what Christian suggests in another post. If I’d not been using Gmail this last week my e-mail would have been down for most of the week. I’ve talked about Gmail strengths before but my recent experiences with my mail server has reconfirmed Gmail as the mail service of choice.
- Gmail is reliable: I’ve been using Gmail for 8 years and in that time there have only been 2 outages that I know about and each lasted a matter of hours. I only noticed one outage. You’ll have a hard time finding reliability like this at any hosting company. The reason for this reliability is Gmail servers are massively redundant.
- Gmail has two step authentication: These days when major sites are being hacked these kind of added security measures are important if not essential.
- Gmail is constantly being improved: Google puts a huge amount of resources into Gmail and it shows. Web services is Google’s core competency and they continually demonstrate great web services like Gmail. In comparison most mail services from companies like Apple, AOL, Yahoo, Comcast, Verizon and Microsoft appear amateurish in comparison.
- Gmail gives you a way to have a stable email address: Don’t just walk away from email addresses. If you change addresses or have several addresses you’ve used in the past make sure all of the addresses you have ever had are all read by one email reader. This is not difficult. Services like Gmail allow you to do this very easily. You can even read your AOL email in Gmail. You can read up to 5 POP3 accounts from Gmail including AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, other webmail or POP3 email servers.
- Gmail allows you to be in control of your SPAM filtering: That is, filter SPAM in a way that you can verify it’s working like you think it is. Be aware that many email hosting services (like AOL, Comcast and others) do automatic SPAM filtering before your email reader ever gets it’s hands on the email. These services are deciding what’s SPAM and what isn’t. Sometime they are right and sometimes they are not. This is a major reason to avoid these services. So, where possible, set the parameters on all your email hosts to NOT do any SPAM filtering and then use a service like Gmail to do the SPAM filtering. It works beautifully, and you can “train” it to filter what you want.
- With Gmail you don’t have to depend on an email reader (like Outlook or Apple Mail) that is physically tied to a single computer: If you do, it GUARANTEES you will have a disaster sometime soon. If you use Outlook or Apple Mail use the IMAP setup in your email reader to allow access to your mail server from multiple computers and see the same mail at every computer. IMAP allows you to see the same email on your SmartPhone, your Laptop, your desktop and an Internet Cafe in Nairobi.
- Gmail allows you to brand your email with your own domain: To look professional you want people to see your email coming from email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org. Your email is just another part of your brand. It is very easy to have a mail server at the domain of your choice. It’s also easy to setup your Gmail account to read mail from that server and send mail so it appears to come from your branded domain.
Gmail has everything you need to make it a key component of your online business and Google is aggressive at expanding it’s functionality to meet the changing online challenges.