Many businesses still operate on old style ‘POP3’ email systems. Your business could be one of them. This means that your computer, mobile phone, laptop or other device is told to ‘collect’ the email from the server. This worked fine when most people only had one computer but now most people want to check their email on multiple items, ‘POP3’ is no longer appropriate. It is cheap to run and it works okay, but we no longer recommend it for the business that wants to be ‘connected’.
With POP3 there is no potential for synchronising emails between different devices. For example if you download and reply to an email on your work computer it would be nice if your laptop and mobile phone understood what you had done and did not download the email again as if it was new. Send an email from your phone – it would be helpful if it appeared in your sent items on your work PC and your laptop. Delete an email from your laptop, it should disappear from your work PC and your phone. POP3 does not let you have these benefits.
For a few years now, something called IMAP has been able to give you these features. IMAP is a system that allows you to synchronise your email between multiple devices. Microsoft Exchange Server takes IMAP but adds even more features. It allows you to store and synchronise contacts, calendars and tasks in addition to email. Enter an appointment on your PC and – as if by magic, it is pushed to your mobile phone. Add a new contact on your phone – it appears on your work PC the next time you open Microsoft Outlook. These rich features all combine to save you and your staff time, improve their efficiency and just make life easier. Calendars and tasks can also be shared out so for example office staff can scehdule appointments for sales staff on the road, pushing appointment details to them wherever they are, instantly.
There are additional benefits to Microsoft Exchange too:
Out of Office Assistant – Manage e-mail messages while you’re out of the office. Set up an automatic response to incoming messages that lets people know you are away.
- Digital Signature – Sign a message with a digital signature to ensure that the message is not altered by someone else.
- Public Folders – Collect, organise, and share files and Outlook items with other people in your business. Participate in public, online discussions with others or share a contact or task list with a group.
- Group Scheduling – Schedule a meeting and reserve a location and equipment. See the free/busy times for meeting invitees and resources.
- Full Synchronisation – All of your Outlook data may be synchronised with a number of computers. You could have Outlook at work, at home or on a laptop and they will seamlessly replicate with each other over the internet. Send an email from work…. It will appear in your sent items folder on your laptop and home computer.
- Faster Email Delivery – When you have Outlook open, emails that are sent to you are automatically ‘pushed’ to your Inbox. This is much faster than traditional POP3 email where you have to check for email manually, or according to a fixed schedule.
The problem with Microsoft Exchange Server is that it is expensive to run. If you wanted your own in-house Microsoft Exchange Server you would have to spend a few thousand pounds on the hardware and software and employ someone like us to maintain the server. There are some Microsoft Exchange Server ‘alternatives’ that appear to do the same job, but we have implemented a variety of these systems and are unimpressed with those we have tried out.
Fortunately for small businesses that don’t have deep pockets, things are changing. There are now companies that offer individual Microsoft Exchange Mailboxes on super-fast and super-reliable servers. These businesses offer you all the benefits of a Microsoft Exchange Server for a small monthly fee per mailbox. We wholeheartedly recommend that you choose Hosted Exchange as an email solution for your small business – we don’t think anybody moving from POP3 would ever want to go back.
If you would like Computer Support Norwich to provide and manage your Hosted Exchange Mailboxes, please call 01603 781902. An on-site demonstration of the service is available free of charge and obligation.