Searching for a reliable email hosting provider can often leave us puzzled in terms of price and offerings. Almost all promise multiple aliases, device syncing, and guaranteed up-time. To stay competitive, premium email hosts have doubled down on their features with office suites and online collaboration tools.
To guide you with a better choice in 2019, we bring a selected list of the best email hosting providers. High email deliverability and positive sender reputation were major criteria which eliminated fancy, cheap email hosts. In fact, high bounce rate and potential blacklisting are big reasons why you may want to go with a brand name rather than hosting your own email server.
How Our Email Hosting Providers Stack Up
We assessed the performance of the following email hosting providers by measuring them for common purchase criteria. Each was rated on a scale of “one” to “five” against eight competing characteristics, with a maximum possible score of 40. We tried to keep the evaluation criteria as objective as possible based on publicly available data.
- Storage: For online storage, a provider would receive the highest rating (25-50 GB ) with a basic plan, whereas lower storage (1-5 GB) would mean a lower rating.
- Features: Almost all hosts provided basic email features such as IMAP/POP3, calendar, contacts, etc. As a result, all of them received a score of 5 except Protonmail which lacks a few features like Calendar.
- Security: A provider with military-grade encryption received higher ratings.
- Value: Price/Performance ratio was measured. How far you could go with a basic plan without stretching the budget.
- Privacy: Do the providers scan your emails? What is their policy regarding data storage?
- Ease of use: How easy is it to install the solution? Can it integrate with desktop clients?
- Account deletion: How quickly you can permanently delete emails.
- Office suite: Does the provider have its own office suite or support easy integration with Microsoft Office 365, Libre Office, etc.?
Tutanota has a highly secure, end-to-end encrypted email platform with a slogan, “Secure mail for everyone.” As a result, all your data including subjects and attachments remain private at all times. Even non-Tutanota users can be asked to verify their passwords before opening your emails. The web interface is spartan but does not lack in features and functionalities.
Tutanota does not support integration with third-party apps and offers only 10 GB storage for €60/user/year. You can create only twenty email aliases. They really charge a premium for privacy which can be a deal-breaker for many.
Our Rating: 30/40
2. Kolab Now
If you’re willing to pay more for privacy but looking for slightly more features than Tutanota, Kolab Now fits the bill. Even this is expensive though. All storage accounts are limited to a 2 GB/user/month quota. Additional storage is charged at CHF 0.50/1GB/month.
Apart from security, Kolab Now is feature-rich with support for its official desktop client, integration with online apps, and Libre Office suite. You can delete your data whenever you want – no questions asked.
Our Rating: 34/40
If you want the security and privacy features of the above solutions while not paying too much, Rackspace offers the best alternative. In fact, they claim “256-bit Encryption in transit and at rest.” Rackspace offers a basic plan at $2/user/month, with huge 25 GB mailboxes, 30 GB cloud storage and unlimited email aliases. You can run your emails from Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook.
Slight upgrades would give you integration with Microsoft office 365. Rackspace offers a complete email hosting platform with all necessary features.
Our Rating: 32/40
Plenty of users recommend Zoho Workplace for having a complete set of features in email hosting. Zoho has its own substitutes for Office and collaboration, with headings such as Writer, Sheet, Show and Cliq. Its standard annual plan is cheaper than either Microsoft or Google. Zoho has an online help section with a detailed setup guide.
The best part is a ticket-based support system which can be a real help for administrators. However, as far as privacy is concerned, Zoho collects user data just like Microsoft or Google do.
Our Rating: 30/40
GoDaddy offers a mature dual email and web-hosting service with no shortage of features. The hosted email integrates with Microsoft apps such as Skype, Microsoft Team and Outlook Web Access. In fact, GoDaddy’s email interface has the feel of “Microsoft on Steroids.” The add-ons are worth a mention.
If you’re looking for HIPAA compliance for your organization emails, GoDaddy has readily available templates. The biggest disappointment is the hidden cost, as there may be too many “add-on” services which you have to manually remove.
Our Rating: 30/40
If privacy is your number one concern, perhaps you should go with Protonmail. You can upgrade to an email with your domain easily on a web interface under “Protonmail Plus” or “Protonmail Visionary” plans. However, the plans can be rather expensive, as getting only 20 GB storage space could cost you at least €24/user/month/yearly. Most email hosting providers retain your emails for months even after you delete your account. This Swiss email provider will destroy all your data when you delete your account.
Our Rating: 29/40
7. Microsoft Exchange Online/Office 365 Business Premium
Microsoft Exchange Online offers a no-frills email hosting plan for users of any budget. Even with their cheapest plan starting at $4/user/month, each user gets 50 GB of mailbox storage. Anything beyond that and you can move your emails to an in-place archive on your PC.
An email user also gets smooth integration with Outlook desktop client while enjoying PCI-DSS standard data leak prevention security. The only drawback of Microsoft is their old school Admin installation which feels hopelessly outdated for 2019.
Our Rating: 31/40
8. G Suite
Microsoft’s closest rival is winning rave reviews with its G Suite apps. If you enjoy using Gmail as your mail client, along with Docs and Hangouts, this might be it for you. Even the cheapest plan at $5/user/month comes with 30 GB storage, business email through Gmail, video and voice messaging, group editing on docs, sessions on Hangouts and shared calendars.
Setting up G Suite is a breeze compared to Microsoft Exchange. The instructions are very easy to understand. However, there is one disadvantage: G Suite’s lack of compatibility with Microsoft office apps and Exchange.
Our Rating: 31/40
9. Fastmail (Popular Demand)
With a nearly 20-year old legacy, Australia-based Fastmail is dedicated to professional email hosting with unrivaled features including super fast “push” features for full mobile sync. In fact, this is one of our favorite picks if you like to manage all your emails on a phone. Fastmail also perfectly integrates with Thunderbird, Outlook and Apple Mail. With two-bit encryption and perfect forward secrecy, you definitely get best security and privacy.
The biggest drawbacks: scrubbing your records is not fast enough because the emails are retained for 14 days, and system logs up to 180 days. Also, compared to Rackspace, Zoho and G Suite, Fastmail has less storage space for a basic plan: only 2 GB for $3/user/month. Still, we’re giving it the highest rating, 5 for Value, on account of the sheer number of supported features.
Our Rating: 31/40 (Storage – 3; Features – 5; Security – 4; Value – 5; Privacy – 4; Ease of Use – 4; Account Deletion – 2; Office Suite – 3)
An Honorable Mention
Our surprise find, Migadu is a little-known Swiss email hosting provider which delivers unbelievable price/performance value along with top-notch security. It lacks fancy features but does the job of email hosting with guaranteed privacy at the cheapest plan of $4/user/month. One may also go for Runbox and Amazon Work Mail, but it was outside the scope of this article.
Our Final Verdict
Different people have different expectations while searching for a reliable email hosting provider. Whatever your choice is, you must understand your own needs better to avoid getting stuck in a bad arrangement.
Winner: In our evaluation, Kolab Now scores ahead of the rest of the pack except for its steep pricing. However, if you have to combine security with cutting-edge features, Rackspace is definitely the toast of the article, and our final recommendation for #1 email host.