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Hosting Discussion > Operating a Web Hosting Business > Web Hosting Business and Legal Issues > A hosting company that doesn't offer email - whatya think?
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  Post #1 (permalink)   04-04-2012, 05:52 PM
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I'm working on a web hosting company startup and am thinking of not offering email.

My thinking is this:
  • From everything I've read, email is a significant headache and a support black hole. People get too much spam, they want anti-spam configuration, they're upset if antispam generates a false positive, you have to deal with backscatter and a large overhead of processing spam, etc. I read not long ago that 90% of email is spam.
  • I'd be happy to help clients get setup on Google Apps, which would give them name@their-domain.com, as well as POP/IMAP/web email. I think I could write a cpanel plugin that automatically sets the correct MX records (this may already exist, I haven't looked).
  • I know in 2008, Dreamhost said that they would continue offering web mail and POP/IMAP, but their preference for customers was to put their email on Google Apps.
  • I'm not sure what I could really add to the Google offering. I think my own free Google Apps personal email has 8GB of storage of webmail-based storage, POP/IMAP, etc.

Personally, I use Google Apps for my personal email. The anti-spam is excellent and I've never had any significant issue with Google Apps.

The only negatives I can think of are:
  • You can't support local mailing lists or autoresponders, I think...I haven't really thought much about this part yet.
  • Some people might be concerned about Google privacy.
  • You have to generate or find instructions on how to setup Google Apps, but that is a one-time work thing. I'm wagering that the "how do I upload the verification file to my site" tickets are easier than the email tickets.
  • The webmail interface is a little idiosyncratic at first, but then, it's much better than the alternative - SquirrelMail :-) And people can always use their favorite mail client.

HD brain trust, what are your thoughts?
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  Post #2 (permalink)   04-04-2012, 06:37 PM
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There's a few companies that I know of that don't offer email, but just be aware that you're really limiting your market as a result.

People get spam, but there's tools and scripts you can put in place to help limit all of that. Having suppored web hosting and email services to clients for more than 15 years, I can honestly say that the majority of our support is NOT spent with email related issues. Yes spam comes up, but if you're on top of it, you shouldn't have any problems.

Google and cPanel was something in discussion back in 2010, but even looking on their forums on 4/2/2012 it still remains in "planning stages".

The only concerns that I can see with having the mail run through GMail rather than anything through your site would be situations such as shopping carts, forums, guest books and contact forms. If everything is being handled OFF-SITE, you need to have an interface for that. While GMAIL supports SMTP, you'll need to have all the information on hand for your clients on how to configure their scripts to use that outside resource.

We recommend GMAIL as an option for clients, but we also support mail directly through their account on our servers. We've not had any incidents which have caused any major headaches that we couldn't resolve in a timely manner.

Like I said, there are companies out there that only provide web hosting of files (no email, no databases etc either) and they do survive. Just be aware that you're cutting off a pretty big market when you do something like that.
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  Post #3 (permalink)   04-04-2012, 06:50 PM
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Thanks for your thoughts.

It's not the spam-handling per se, more my overall analysis that I can't really offer anything that Google doesn't already do better. That's true of all web hosts I've ever worked with as a customer as well - they have POP/IMAP and so does Google, but Google also has a vastly superior web UI and much bigger quotas.

Your shopping cart/forum/guest book point is well-taken. I'm wondering if there is a way to overcome that. I know that I send email from lots of machines (host1.example.com) that ends up at myname@example.com, and it works fine. 99% of that is just cron jobs piping to mailx, so there's no special authentication.

Again, many thanks - more things on my todo list to think about :-)
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  Post #4 (permalink)   04-04-2012, 11:24 PM
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Sorry, I didn't think through when I used my SMTP example. All of my machines are emailing as the same domain. In this case, they'd be emailing as the customer's domain, so it'd probably have to be a script-by-script SMTP config.

I may look to see if this is something that's hook-able in the various installers.
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  Post #5 (permalink)   04-04-2012, 11:27 PM
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Well email hosting is around but it is not really marketed much, from what I see!

We plan to setup mail server nodes and start email hosting as a side line.
Indeed google are pretty good with what they have, but if you do it right, you can end up being just as good if not better, over the years.
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  Post #6 (permalink)   04-05-2012, 11:38 AM
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Just to cap on what Paul said regarding Google. Just because they can do it, that doesn't mean that you can't do it better. If that was the case, may as well give up Web Hosting as Google offers that too Oh, and Domain names too!

There are hundreds of reasons why a person will rather spend money and use your services than using that of a corporate giant. The biggest reasons that we see from our clients is that we treat them as people rather than as a number and dollar figure! This is your biggest selling point.

As for SMTP, Google already does provide this. You just need to configure the various scripts to use their SMTP Servers. The only thing you'll want to watch out for is that Google offers one set of Apps for individuals, and then other things for Business. It's possible, depending on how much mail is being sent, that you'll also need to be using Google Business Apps and pay for the mail service.

Check Google's rules so you're not surprised when they come back wanting to charge clients more money.
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  Post #7 (permalink)   04-24-2012, 09:24 AM
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You can also give your clients options like Greylisting Emails. It does slow the receive time a bit but will eliminate quite a bit of spam headaches right of the bat.
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  Post #8 (permalink)   06-03-2012, 02:01 PM
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No headache when you manually setup a Google App for each domain and most of customer will ask you or open a ticket for "Why you did not provide email service?" or "I don't know how to use Google App, please teach me"

You can use email sending limits, use spam filter,etc and enable email account upon customer request?(Not enable by default)
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  Post #9 (permalink)   06-05-2012, 07:40 AM
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Email is a pretty important thing for web hosting. Granted it comes with a lot of headaches, but nevertheless it's an important feature to offer.
 
 
 


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  Post #10 (permalink)   06-05-2012, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IH-Rameen View Post
Email is a pretty important thing for web hosting. Granted it comes with a lot of headaches, but nevertheless it's an important feature to offer.
yes, but their is no requirement that a webhost must also provide emails with a hosting plan.

some free hosting plans and cheap plans dont provide emails as standard.
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  Post #11 (permalink)   06-06-2012, 09:10 AM
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I would rather avoid setting any limits, I would much rather be successful and offer everything I can than have a random person tell me "Well you do not offer..." then turn and walk away. And I am not sure if we are just lucky with our customers but for the most part, we do not have a high volume of "Help me my email is broken" type tickets that come in.
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  Post #12 (permalink)   06-06-2012, 09:51 AM
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I dont think that a webhosting company that do not offer email services will do that well. I would love to be proved wrong though!
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  Post #13 (permalink)   06-06-2012, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shockym View Post
I would rather avoid setting any limits, I would much rather be successful and offer everything I can than have a random person tell me "Well you do not offer..." then turn and walk away. And I am not sure if we are just lucky with our customers but for the most part, we do not have a high volume of "Help me my email is broken" type tickets that come in.
same here, if you have a plan with no emails and someone else has the same type of plan with emails, then 10/10 i think the prospective client would go to the other guy offering emails.
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  Post #14 (permalink)   06-11-2012, 06:06 AM
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I agree 100% with Terry's comments. You will loose majority of customers because of not offering email services with your hosting.
 
 
 


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  Post #15 (permalink)   06-18-2012, 12:52 AM
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Web Hosting without Emails its like a car without wheels. Some people or companies buy hosting for emails only and their website will be about 3 -5 pages only which are the basic pages

Home - About Us - Products or Services - Portfolio - Contact Us

They care about communication and this happen through email they can't publish a "Contact Us" page without having an email. They can't do email marketing without bouncing email, they can't do real business or print contact email on a business card without having a professional business email not a free email this is will be silly.

Like most of the guys said if you are afraid of Spam and you think Google can protect you before then you won't be a good and reliable provider because there are many software and scripts offering spam-free services as a background process you can install and use them on your servers.

A final advice if you don't want to lose money and time don't limit yourself
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