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Old Aug 28, 12, 9:37 am   #1
 
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Suggestions for small business email solution?

I'm looking for a new email provider for a small business (3 people). I've spent a bunch of time researching and trying various solutions, but haven't been able to find one that fits our needs.

Any and all suggestions welcome

Requirements:
- Outlook compatible (this is a deal-breaker)
- Over-the-air synch of email, calendar, and contacts to Windows, Android and iOS devices
- Web-based interface
- Multiple devices per user
- Live tech support
- High uptime
- Easy to administer

Over the last 2 years I've tried:
- GMail, but it doesn't work with Outlook on Windows PCs
- Office 365, but Microsoft's strategy and product portfolio in the on-line space has changed 3 times in the last 2 years, so we're no longer interested
- 1and1 Hosted Exchange, but it's difficult to administer and their tech support is weak (people are in Philippines, no on-line help files)
- My web host's email solution, but he only provides POP, which is difficult with multiple devices, and his webmail solution is weak (only works with Firefox)
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Old Aug 28, 12, 9:44 am   #2
 
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you can look at fastmail.fm it did what i wanted, but does not have online support. i would think to get online support, would cost real money.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 9:52 am   #3
 
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Originally Posted by slawecki View Post
you can look at fastmail.fm it did what i wanted, but does not have online support. i would think to get online support, would cost real money.
Ha. I used for Fastmail for years, back in the Treo days. In those days, it only had imap, so no calendar/contacts etc.

I don't mind paying real money. The mostly-free solution we have now just isn't working.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 10:20 am   #4
 
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If you don't mind paying, you can use Google Apps for Business which will give you Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook- https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gappssync

We use Google Apps for Business at my office and have a few users that sync their account through Outlook using the Apps Sync. It seems to work well. I believe it is around $50 per user, per year for the Apps for Business account.

Hope that helps.

-Matt
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Old Aug 28, 12, 10:24 am   #5
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I'll second the Google Apps for Businesses option - I've been a customer for years, and it has never let me down.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 10:27 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jg70124 View Post
- Office 365, but Microsoft's strategy and product portfolio in the on-line space has changed 3 times in the last 2 years, so we're no longer interested
we use Office365 at work, if you have automated processes doing lots of email volume then there are some caveats - but for normal use it is good.

It isn't like the awful BPOS thing MS made where you needed to have that dodgy connector program that would randomly drop out. I haven't had any problems with my personal Outlook/Email since it went to 365.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 1:30 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by quick_dry View Post
we use Office365 at work, if you have automated processes doing lots of email volume then there are some caveats - but for normal use it is good.

It isn't like the awful BPOS thing MS made where you needed to have that dodgy connector program that would randomly drop out. I haven't had any problems with my personal Outlook/Email since it went to 365.
+1 for Office 365. I use it for web, outlook, phone (Windows Phone and Android) and tablet, all without problem.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 2:03 pm   #8
 
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I am using 1and1, and have been quite happy with it for years - but I dont use the hosted exchange. I am not even sure what that does that makes it more useful than the basic package for a few people in a firm who may be out on the road.

I just have the basic email package as xxx@myfirm.com and have them collected through Outlook with imap. There are a series of emails eg 1@myfirm.com, 2@myfirm.com etc and they are paired with the desktop ipad and iphone of each user. As imap they are synced with each device.

However, I have not got the over-the-air sync part of your requirement - which I presume is the hosted exchange part of their service. But I think that is where Dropbox might be an answer. However somebody might have the full solution for you!
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Old Aug 28, 12, 4:08 pm   #9
 
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As others have said I'd +1 for Google Apps -- however for 3 users I'd recommend the free edition (max 10 users.)

If you haven't already registered a domain name do that first. I happen to use namecheap.com for $9-ish/domain/year but any registrar which allows you access to MX records will do.

After you get your domain, register for GA here

http://www.google.com/enterprise/app...s/pricing.html

You'll have to authenticate with Google then set up your email accounts but they do have some easy to use tutorials to help you through the process. The only thing you lose from your wish list is the live tech support and you'll wind up with professional looking addys... (i.e., randy@jg70124.com, support@jg70124.com, etc.)

Google Apps supports POP3 & IMAP and it's been very stable for me. There are a few tricks you have to do to make POP3 work seamlessly among several machines, but IMAP is rock stable. That said I've been using Outlook w/POP3 for about 3 years now with no complaints.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 5:54 pm   #10
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Long time hosted exchange on 1 and 1, never a problem.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 9:30 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by Zarf4 View Post
As others have said I'd +1 for Google Apps -- however for 3 users I'd recommend the free edition (max 10 users.)
+3

It just works.

However if Exchange/Outlook sync of calendars and contacts is needed, you'll need Apps for Business. Or get Thunderbird + Zindus + Provider for Google Calendar

Our business has Apps for the Directors, and SBS2011 on our server at our site. Pretty soon I will be recommending to the board we move to the cloud, small businesses don't have time for a solution that needs regular maintenance.
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Old Aug 28, 12, 9:48 pm   #12
 
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I've used "Intermedia" for the last few years and have been happy with their service. Never a long wait for live tech support. They also offer a service for incoming faxes to forward to your email. I think they are one of the larger hosted exchange services for small businesses.
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Old Aug 29, 12, 6:30 am   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jg70124 View Post
GMail, but it doesn't work with Outlook on Windows PCs
Not sure what you mean here. I have a gmail account that I use with Outlook. I never go to gmail.com to handle that email.
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Old Aug 29, 12, 11:38 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by cubbie View Post
Not sure what you mean here. I have a gmail account that I use with Outlook. I never go to gmail.com to handle that email.
Same here. Maybe OP was trying to use the Outlook Exchange server with gmail which doesn't work. He needs to use IMAP:

http://support.google.com/mail/bin/a...n&answer=77689

The iOS Exchange would work with gmail/calendar/contract push. I think there is a way to sync google app with Outlook too.

We love gmail. It is better than all the other hosted email services we tried for our business and it is free!
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Old Nov 16, 12, 8:47 am   #15
 
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Closing the loop.. O365 is a*terrible* solution for my business

Based on input here, I signed up for Microsoft's Office 365. Or at least I tried - I actually ended up with something called Exchange Online Plan 1. This required the services of a Microsoft Solutions provider. Who charged me for 2 hours of his time at $160/hour. On top of the license fees. ($4/user/month, minimum 1 year).

We messed around for 2-3 months, but were never able to get the service to perform as we wanted. (We didn't make it easy - the partners in our business all use different OS's and different email programs and have different requirements for the way they get and store email). It require more administrative effort than we want to put in, and I couldn't get my partners to switch.

So we decided to quit, and just stay with the jury-rigged solution we've been using for the last 10 years.

Sadly, it turns out there's no way to cancel the service online, and the solution provider can't do it either - you must call in to some India-based help desk.

So I would not recommend this service to other small businesses unless you were truly committed.

Last edited by jg70124; Nov 16, 12 at 9:00 am.
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