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In order to help our customers understand their email, I’ve decided to summarize the three most common email options that exist in modern computing.

This article also tries to help guide you towards deciding which email system is best suited to you and your business.

Although I’ve written about it in the past, some of the rules have changed, so I’ve decided to create a new, up-to-date version.

POP Email (Post Office Protocol)

POP access is the simplest form of retrieving email from your mailbox.

It works best when used with a single device (i.e., retrieving email on a single computer).

POP Advantages

  • Simple fetching of email from server
  • All internet service providers support POP

POP Disadvantages

  • Only works well with a single device
  • Very limited useability on mobile devices
    • You can usually receive email, but not send email (especially when you leave your wireless connection at home and try to send while on vacation etc.)

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol)

IMAP allows for multiple devices to synchronize email.

Email is stored on the server and each device gets an updated copy of emails.

As you read, move, forward, reply and delete emails these changes are reflected on all your devices. does not support IMAP. does support IMAP and provides a reasonable 2 GB mailbox.

Telus does support IMAP, just not very well.  Telus provides a meager 100 MB of space, and only supports one device accessing the account at a time (thereby completely negating one of the biggest advantages of using a mailbox synchronization system like IMAP.

IMAP Advantages

  • Email Synchronization between devices is powerful and minimizes repeat efforts of having to keep inbox’s in sync
  • Migrating to a new computer or adding a new device is easy: just enter your credentials and all of your email will start flowing in
  • Business accountability: emails sent on a mobile device are now captured and stored in your sent box
  • Reduce backup time / cost / stress: since email is stored on the server, you no longer need to worry about backing up that content

IMAP Disadvantages

  • Emails stored on the server consume space; not all providers give sufficient space
  • Email provided by your Internet Service Provider has vast differences in available space: Eastlink: 2 GB; Telus: 150 MB; Rogers: unlimited; Bell: unlimited
  • Email provided by 3rd parties are usually more forgiving in space allotments: GMail: 10 GB; Yahoo: unlimited; Hotmail: 5GB; iCloud: 5 GB
  • IMAP only synchronizes email and does not synchronize contacts, or calendar events.

Hosted Exchange

Hosted Exchange is meant for businesses that want a professional email system that works on an enterprise level across all devices and all platforms.

Exchange synchronizes email, contacts, and calendar events. It also allows for shared contacts and shared calendars. It also allows for email delegation so that team members can be granted permission to see specific folders in your email account.

All important considerations for a business that uses email as a central pillar of their communication infrastructure.

Hosted Exchange Advantages

  • Full synchronization of all email, contacts, and calendar events across all modern mobile computing devices
  • Migrating to a new computer or adding a new device is easy: just enter your credentials and all of your email, contacts, calendar events, email rules, and signature will start flowing in
  • Business accountability: emails sent on a mobile device are now captured and stored in your sent box
  • You finally get to use that “out of office” option in Outlook
  • Reduce backup time / cost / stress: since email is stored on the server, you no longer need to worry about backing up that content
  • Industry proven Microsoft technology, with fully knowledgeable IT professionals a phone call away, should you have problems
  • $8 / user / month for 25GB; a pittance compared to running a server in-house

Hosted Exchange Disadvantages

  • Rare instance of non-professional platforms (Outlook Express, Mac Mail) unable to view attachments sent through Exchange

What is right for me? What should I do?


Residential User

If you only have a single device and don’t mind backing up your email data yourself, then POP access is OK for you.

If you have multiple devices or would like to take advantage of easy migration to new devices then you need IMAP.

If your ISP provides IMAP access and a reasonable mailbox size (2GB or greater) then you should be just fine.

If your ISP does not provide IMAP access or it is very small and limited (like Telus) then switch to a hosted solution: Hotmail, Yahoo, iCloud, or GMail.

The downside is that you will have a new email address that ends in or or This isn’t an issue for most residential users.

What do you do with all of your contacts that are sending email to your old address? Simple, you log into your account and configure your account to forward all email to your new account.

Eastlink: Navigate to, enter your credentials, on the left-hand side choose options and forwarding.

Telus: Navigate to, enter your credentials, choose your email, and set your forwarding options. does support many of the features of Exchange; contact syncing, calendar syncing, etc. This is a nice solution for residential users who are looking to share their calendar with their family. However, iCloud is not business-ready and should not be employed in a business environment.


Business User

You have more options to help keep the branding of your business name. For instance “[email protected]” is much more meaningful than “[email protected]”. Not only is this far more professional, but it helps reinforce my company name and to inform a customer that I have a website that they might want to check out.

Email is sent directly to and from my account and is delivered quickly. There are no complicated redirects where the email is bouncing through multiple hosts/servers, where each one could filter out a legitimate email because it considers it spam.

For business users, you may want to read Guide to Creating a Professional Email Signature

OPTION ONE: Use Your Host

If you don’t have a website or a domain, purchase one. They are a whopping $10 / year.

Register with GoDaddy and secure your name. Then setup email. You don’t actually even need to have a website, you just need the domain name.

If you already have your website, check with your host and see if they provide IMAP accounts with a minimum of 5 GB of space (each). If so, make the switch.

If you are in the process of setting up a website, you may want to read Web Site Requirements & Why You Should Never Use a Reseller Account.

OPTION TWO: Use Google Apps

So, you’re host doesn’t offer IMAP email and you still want to have a company branded email address.

Simple, you sign up for Google Apps ($5 / user / month for 25GB / account) and setup your accounts and users.

Then log into your Registrar and point your Mail Exchange (MX) records to the Google Apps servers.

You now have an Enterprise Class Email system at your disposal.

Google Apps also offer access to the entire Google Suite of collaborative computing such as shared calendars, contacts, and much more.

OPTION THREE: Use Exchange

Beyond a doubt, the ultimate experience for your business is Microsoft Exchange Servers.

I use and strongly recommend using a Hosted Exchange: Sherweb Exchange. For $8 / user / month you get full synchronization of your email, contacts, and calendar (and 25GB of space / account).

This allows for the most flexibility and productivity between yourself and your office.