Speed is a feature, and latency makes or breaks your web application’s user experience. Google’s private fiber network spans the globe with over 100 points of presence across 33 countries, meaning your app data reaches users with the lowest latency possible. Whether it’s raw application data or media-rich imagery and video, Google’s global network ensures your app data traverses our private network from our data centers to your users, anywhere in the world.
The company doesn't list a virtual private server offering, but it bills its Elastic Sites service as a VPS alternative, offering the ease of use of a simple shared hosting plan and the performance and scalability of a VPS. GlowHost also offers a number of different cloud hosting plans, with special attention to providing enterprise-grade services.
With customer relationships at stake, you don’t want to trust just anyone with your business communications. We appreciate a host that includes all sorts of secure, reliable, and easy-to-use email features with your hosting plan, such as unlimited accounts and a free domain. Keep an eye out for plans that include autoresponders, spam filters, forwarding, and webmail options, too.
The cloud certainly makes delivering email to your users easier but, for the vast majority of organizations, there's still going to be some setup required beyond simply activating the service. At a minimum, a domain must be purchased and configured to point to the new email host. The service provider can make this process very simple or they can make quite hard; this is something you should watch for in the provider's customer support forums as well as in our reviews. In most cases, there is a validation phase that will require some technical familiarity, though a few providers go so far as to walk even neophyte users through it step by step. Other solid services bolster excellent support with tutorial articles and videos that also walk you through the process. The worst will leave you to figure it out on your own.
Whatever the case, this won’t reflect well on your website or business. If you’re a professional or hobbyist, consider this scenario: your business/blog is mentioned on the radio, TV, or in an article on a highly trafficked site. Suddenly you have 60,000 web visitors . . . and it’s gone. Your site crashes under the stampede. Poof! There goes all that free publicity.
One of the most important compatibility factors to consider with email is the mobility question. How often do your employees need to access email via mobile devices? That's an important issue because most email hosting providers deliver some kind of web client usable as a default inbox. Almost all of these can be accessed via a mobile device, so if your employees don't need to access their emails on the road that much, then such mediocre clients are probably fine.
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.
Almost all the services offer some sort of drag-and-drop website builder that makes it easy to drag and drop items to build your page. These are great for getting started, but they often lock you into the service. Most page builders are proprietary to the service, or don't create HTML that's portable enough to be easily moved to another service if you decide it's necessary.
You also want a web host with 24/7 customer support—if not by phone, then at least by chat. Forums, knowledge bases, and help tickets are all well and good, but sometimes you just need to communicate with another human to get things ironed out as quickly as possible. That said, not all 24/7 customer support teams are equal. Companies like GoDaddy and Liquid Web boast incredibly knowledgeable and helpful customer support squads—a fact that we confirmed in our in-depth reviews of those web hosting services.
For email, security starts with spam, otherwise known as unsolicited email. This is often the bane of not only those who live in their email inboxes,but also of the IT administrators who manage email services. The good news is that spam filters are getting better every day and email providers tend to deploy the very latest and greatest for their customers. The bad news is that these filters still aren't perfect, which means they can catch a lot of "good" email but often vary significantly in effectiveness. Today's spam filters are based largely on machine learning (ML) as the primary method of determining what's bound for the trash bin. Given that ML gets more effective over time, it is no surprise that the services that have been around the longest tend to have better spam detection.
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Your next major concern will be compatibility. It's not a shock that most businesses run on Microsoft Windows and use some form of Microsoft Office. Being able to use common third-party clients such as Microsoft Outlook can often be a concern, and even today, compatibility with Microsoft Outlook isn't necessarily guaranteed. This is especially true when sending and receiving meeting invites. It only takes one garbled meeting invite to realize how frustrating this can be in the real world. Even if using Microsoft Outlook isn't a concern, portability is. If the service is entirely web-based, then is there a means for me to take my email offline and send email when I connect?
For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as Senior Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web hosting, music, utilities, and video game copy, Jeffrey makes comic books, mentors, practices bass and Jeet Kune Do, and appears on the odd podcasts or convention panel. He also collects vinyl and greatly enjoys a craft brew. You can a find Jeffrey online at jeffreylwilson.net, or send him a tweet at @jeffreylwilson