Seven Reasons Why You Should Use Gmail

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.

Here’s why:

  1. 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.
  2. Gmail has two step authentication: These days when major sites are being hacked these kind of added security measures are important if not essential.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Gmail allows you to brand your email with your own domain: To look professional you want people to see your email coming from you@yourname.com rather than anjz42@aol.com. 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. 

20 Responses to “Seven Reasons Why You Should Use Gmail”

  • The downside to using Gmail is it looks less professional over using your own domain when using a Gmail domain mailbox.
    Using your own domain reinforces your brand.
    Google has been accused of robot reading mail to target advertising at it’s customers. I seem to recall they were fined for this.
    Web based email that has been read and is being stored on a server does not require a court order or search warrant to be read by law enforcement. The US Supreme Court has failed to grant email the same protection as paper mail when it comes to privacy. It can also be subpoenaed in a lawsuit with almost no viable ways to block its acquisition.
    All professional hosting companies provide a web based portal to access email.
    When setting up email services, all professional hosting companies allow the choice of POP3 or IMAP.
    Using a dedicated mail program allows more flexibility in coordinating your mail and the integration of other applications such as calendars and CRM’s.
    You can choose the email program that suits your needs and not the one that Google decides is the best for you.
    You can upgrade or change your email client when it suits you instead of logging in one day and loosing the entire morning trying to figure out a new interface.

    Google is not your friend. Their business is collecting information and selling it to marketing companies. The larger the company, the less important your small business is to them and Google is massive.
    Using an AOL, MSN, Hotmail, Comcast or a similar mail address for your business is just as bad. Get a domain, set up email addresses with that domain name and build your brand.
    Back up your email as you back up your photos and accounting data and you won’t have a disaster. Convert it down to text if you can and it won’t take much space or time to back up.

    I heartily disagree with entangling oneself with Google. (Read their fine print if you have time to shudder in a corner for a while). I do agree with Christian on having a separate Web/Mail host and Name Registrar. That just came in handy in the last couple of months in getting away from iPage and over to HostColor where my other domains are hosted. The DNS angle doesn’t make any sense to me at this point. I’ve had web sites for the last twenty some odd years and have been lucky enough to not have had more than an hour or two of down time here and there. Nothing like a week, ouch. My web site and emails are “tell me 3 times” backed up in case HostColor craters.

    I do have a gmail address that is used infrequently. I keep it just as last measure should the magnetosphere swap over and I really really need it. In the mean time, I do not trust them especially after reading their “fine print”. Just because a company HAS a privacy policy, it doesn’t mean that they are going to keep your information private. It’s usually a document that spells out just how they are going to sell what they find out about you so when you find out, they can point to it and truthfully say that you were told.

  • There is a variation on #7 that allows you to have your branded email managed by google rather then having it pulled from the domain server where your domain is hosted. I was having problems with a well known hosting service occasionally bouncing mail back to customers.

    For $4.95 a month you can set up a business account with google, have them handle the MX records for your domain so that you still have your email as yourname@yourcompany.com but the mail goes directly to your gmail bypassing the hosting service mail servers. When you log into gmail, the account will actually say yourname@yourcompany.com.

    I have had not reports of bounced mail since doing this. I still use the same company for hosting the domain website but the mail completely bypasses the. You also get 25gb of cloud storage by doing this.

    The service is described here http://www.google.com/intl/or/mail/help/work.html

  • Many hosts guarantee an up time of over 99.9%. The company I use allows web-based email access, several spam filter options, online storage… pretty much everything I could get with Gmail but with more professionalism and no ads (or snooping). I still have a business gmail account for registering to different websites and forums, but it only serves as an additional spam firewall against my ‘real’ business email.

  • @ Ken

    I think you missed the part where you are in fact using your own domain for gmail…….

    Ill quickly go through some of your comments above since you clearly didnt read anything Larry posted.

    1. Google apps for business (gmail) allows you to use your own domain, so my email is @virtualviewing.ca (not @gmail.com)

    2. You also missed Larry saying that you want to SEPERATE your hosting from your email. We all know “All professional hosting companies provide a web based portal to access email”, the point is you dont want to have both your website and email running from the same host! Having your static site down for 1 hour is one thing, but having your email down for that 1 hour could be a disaster.

    3. With gmail you CAN choose whatever email program you wish to read your email (outlook etc) or just use their online one (which i use with zero issues)

    4. Whatever email program you choose to use sync’s with gmail online, so if you choose to upgrade to another program etc, everything xis already stored in the gmail servers anyway.

    5. gmail for business comes with full cloud backup and 30 gigs of space, so you dont even need to delete emails, you can archive them so you have access to them forever.

    And enough with the silly conspiracy theories, I have been using google apps for business and its been flawless for 3.5 years now.

    Google apps for business has ZERO ads, I think you are getting mixed up with the regular gmail with the ads that run across the top and sides of your mailbox.

    And Ken….google doesnt have to be your friend, its a tool for business and does a great job.

    The setup is not for everybody but is a really good option for those that want to ensure email up time (my gmail has never been down in 3.5 years)

  • Jeff
    Do you mind sharing what host it is that you mentioned above?
    Thank you.

  • Anyone choosing to run that setup (google apps for business and dns made easy) and needing help feel free to contact me through my website and I can help out no problem.

    Google and dnsmadeeasy.com also have tutorials on their sites as well that make it a breeze to set up very quickly and easily.

  • We have been using Google apps for business for the last 9 months and for around 3 Euro a user we find it indispensable. We use our own domain so the mails look professional & the capacity of 30G of data with the availability of drive to share docs across the business and calendar is excellent. I would personally recommend it as I have used personal Gmail for around 7 years without hardly a problem. You can argue the big brother collecting info angle but all i am looking for is a reliable service that delivers mail an this is definitely that. we used to manage our own mail server before but the delivery – spam problem just seemed to be getting worse over the last year or so.

  • @Jeff

    Shared hosting will always go down as you are on a server with hundreds of other sites. Dale Clark from the forum section just had significant downtime and he was on a dedicated server!

    But what does 99.9% uptime really mean ? :

    the total number of minutes in a month x (100-uptime%)/100
    = 30days x 24hours x 60min x (100-99.9)/100
    = 43200 x (0.1)/100
    = 43.2 minutes (max downtime).

    So, if it is 99.9%, it means your website should not be down for more than a total of about 43.2 minutes in a month. Mind you, the total number of minutes in a month is about 43200 minutes or 720 hours. So, 0.1% of downtime is actually very minimal. Out of this much time, your host should only down your site for a max of 43.2 minutes.

    Keep in mind that this downtime does not include maintenance.

    Like I said, its not for everybody, but at least take the time to read what google apps for business offers as it sounds like many people have no idea.

  • I use both yahoo for personal emails and gmail for my gallery work; and have been advised, as above, that it looks “more professional” to use “your name@ yourname.com for an email address. Does anyone REALLY care? its email !…. just a means of communication.
    If you take ages to respond that’s un-professional.
    As a photographer does your client care if you shoot with a Hasselblad or a Mamiya, or a PhaseOne? Does anyone care if you get a pkg from UPS or Fedex ?
    The quality of your work and your website looks & function determines if you are professional !

    Peter Brandt

  • Another great thing about google apps for business is the Calendar, especially for photographers with scheduling.

    It sync’s across all platforms (pc, mobile etc). On mobile you can just click on the address in the calendar app (i use Calendars 5) and it brings up directions on google maps quickly. The default apple calendar can also be used but its awful in my opinion.

    Through gmail, it sends you reminders on scheduled events and also can give you a email summary for all your upcoming days events the night before (or whenever you choose). You can also just click on the address in the email reminder to bring up google maps if you want.

    You can easily keep track of mileage right in the calendar on the go and print off the calendar for the year at tax time for your records.

  • One tricky part about gmail is finding a name. I’ve tried names for literally hours and have not come up with one that’s not taken. Unless you want to add a bunch of random numbers…I still have been unable to come up with anything.
    I’m not a techy person and everything you wrote just boggles my mind. I had to hire someone just to get my several email addresses to all show up in my Outlook. (I also can see my emails on-line from the server if I need to) I had to use gmail for a few months while I was on contract to another company, and I did not find it easy, especially their filing system compared to Outlook.
    So much stuff to learn!!!

    Dawn Meier

  • @Dawn

    Thats why you use your sunrisephotography.co domain, when setup through gmail for business you can then set up whatever you want @sunrisephotography.co. You use dnsmadeeasy.com to point your domain to your webhost for your website, and separately point your mx records to gmail for business for your email.

    Gmail easily allows you to fetch email from all your other emails address pretty easily, in fact you can even choose to reply using each of those email address separately as well, meaning if someone sends it to a certain email address you use, you would then reply from that exact address. This is useful if you want to have a business email address and personal one and keep them separated.

    Sounds complicated I know, but its actually easy. And you could actually still use outlook (or whatever) if thats what you prefer over the gmail web based interface. Whoever you hired to add your email to outlook should be able to do the above pretty easily.

  • I also do not agree with the Google statement and support Ken Brown his writing. My websites and emails are all hosted by Hostgator.com Also I use the pro. antivirus Bitdefender, that protect me and my computer from incoming emails by warnings and encrypting.

  • FYI: We publish an internet digital publication and have established an email data base of subscribers. A solid 95% do not use an email address with a business domain. Most email addresses are based with Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, MSN and AOL. As a business and marketing person I too believe in using my domain email address as I think it looks more professional, however the rest of the world doesn’t think so.
    BTW: I do have a backup Gmail email address…….free insurance.

  • I think the bottom line is that what ever you decide to use, if it is not reliable and has periodic outages, you will lose money. While I am not paranoid about what others might be doing with my mail, I do not think whatever “they” are doing will ever effect my personal or business life. I put all of that hoopla into the “Cost of doing business” arena.

    That said, I do have a domain which I use, but I forward all to my Gmail account as well. It has proven very handy as a back up source. I also am starting to put my gmail account on all my correspondence in addition to my domain account and suggest that they send/cc to me on both accounts. I teach my clients that I will always respond to their mail as a confirmation to receiving theirs. If they do not get a response, then they should assume I did not receive it and give me a follow up call. Other than that, I don’t know what else one can do…..or I would.

    When the email is down, I lose business. I don’t know about others, but clearly 75% of all my bookings are done through the email alone. When clients call, I insist they follow up with an email outlining their order with date, time and location.

    While I have done what I can for my clients, there is nothing that can be done for new clients inquiries and that is scary.

  • The main reason not to use gmail —it’s Google. Bad t&c, lack of privacy and trying to monopolize individual lives and businesses. That being said they do offer good products but as with anything else it’s your choice.

  • @Suzanne – If you think you have “privacy” anywhere online, you are kidding yourself.

  • Hopefully anyone who has issues with regular gmail has actually taken the time to read over the terms etc for Google Apps for Business as they are 2 separate things.

    An interesting article from forbes.com titled “No More Scroogled, No More NSA, Google Apps Gets Encryption” is a good read http://www.forbes.com/sites/benkepes/2014/05/21/no-more-scroogled-no-more-nsa-google-apps-gets-encryption/

    1. Several months ago Google announced that it would no longer be scanning emails
    2. Google and Zix Corporation have just announced Google Apps Message Encryption (GAME), a service that brings full scale message encryption to Google Apps.

    If you still have a problem with Google Apps for business, you can do exactly what Larry outlined above with the Microsoft version, outlook.com (use your own domain etc)

    If you also have a problem with Microsoft (outlook.com), well you should probably pack up and go live in the mountains….off the grid :)

  • zoho.com is also a good alternative to gmail and google apps for business. I started using it as I was slow to sign up for the free google apps for business before they phased out the plans with 10 free accounts. If you need multiple business email accounts (real email accounts not just forwarding or aliases) it’s worth a look.

  • It looks as though some readers aren’t aware the Gmail and Google Apps For Business are two completely different products. Gmail is free, ad supported, and yes Google does ‘snoop’ the messages to display relevant advertising. Google Apps For Business (http://www.google.com/enterprise/apps/business/) is a suite of several applications, including an email product that looks and functions very similarly to Gmail, but is NOT Gmail. In fact, it is very secure and private. Governments use it. (http://www.google.com/enterprise/government/) It can be HIPAA compliant (https://support.google.com/a/answer/3407054?hl=en). Hostgator, on the other hand, specifically refuses to be used for anything HIPAA related. (http://support.hostgator.com/articles/pre-sales-policies/is-hostgator-hipaa-compliant) What does that say about security?