Email Hosting Providers Benchmark: Dedicated Mail Server

Niccolo Matteoni
email mgmt - dedicated server

With today’s article, we will start analysing the alternatives offered on the market with regard to email hosting.
The purpose is to evaluate the possible options to give you benchmarks that will help you choose the option that best suits your needs.

Each publication in this series contains relevant information that can be used independently. However, it is recommended that you read the entire series in order to grasp all the useful information and use it to your advantage!
If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you take a look at the previous chapters in the series:

  1. Why you should manage your customers’ emails
  2. 7 Best Practices in Selling and Managing Professional Emails

In order to make a neutral comparison that is actually useful for choosing the most suitable service for your needs, we will compare 5 categories of alternates on the market, analysing for each of them the 7 most important characteristics that an email hosting service should have.

The seven aspects on which the comparative analysis will be based are:

  1. Reseller mode of use. What features are available? Is it user-friendly? What possibilities / opportunities / threats are there for the reseller?
  2. Security and Deliverability. These are the fundamental requirements for an email service. If they are not at an adequate level, all other features lose their meaning.
  3. Help Desk. How can you handle the support requests from your customers that you will inevitably receive?
  4. Migration Tools. When you acquire a new customer, you will probably have to carry out a migration, which if not handled properly can become an annoying niggle.
  5. Backup services. Nowadays, backup services are essential and must be taken into account when evaluating an email hosting service.
  6. Email account size. Your customers certainly have different needs when it comes to mailbox capacity. How much flexibility do the various providers offer you?
  7. Price and costs. It is no coincidence that this is the last point, you should not even consider it. But since I am sure it is of interest to you anyway, let’s talk about it.

The five alternatives we will compare are:

  1. Dedicated Mail Server
  2. Web Hosting Providers’ Email Accounts
  3. Microsoft 365
  4. Google Work Space 
  5. Qboxmail 

Dedicated Mail Server

Reseller mode of use

The main attribute of a dedicated mail server is certainly having full control over it. But sadly, freedom comes at a high price, the whole installation and configuration process is up to you! First of all, you have to choose a machine (Linux or Windows) and you have to calculate well, in fact very well, what your needs are because changing will cost you quite a bit. Then you must choose a management software (e.g. Plesk Cpanel or Iredmail). Everything must always be up-to-date and with the right licenses, otherwise, the service will be blocked. And finally, you have to calculate that cyclically the machines have to be renewed, technological progress and resource saturation will leave you no choice. 

Security and Deliverability

The motto if you choose a dedicated mail server: you do it yourself! So, in order to guarantee security for your customers, you will have to research, choose and install email security products. You certainly can’t treat this topic superficially, so arm yourself with patience and carefully choose the right solution. 
The same goes for deliverability. Authentication protocols (SPF, DKIM, DMARC) can be used on dedicated servers, but again it is up to you to do all the dirty work of studying how they work. 

Help Desk

In customer support, there is some advantage. Having full control, you don’t have to wait forever for a reply to the ticket you opened three days ago. The other side of the coin is that no one will come to help you. Have you ever checked and interpreted the logs of a Postfix or Dovecot server? If the answer is yes, you are probably already missing a few diopters and know that it can be a difficult task to do.

Migration Tools

As with email security, you will have to research, analyse and choose the most suitable external service for migration. The freedom of choice forces you to use a lot of your time in researching and evaluating alternatives for functions that you would otherwise have included.

Backup services

At this point, I think the answer is obvious. You will inevitably have to rely on an independently managed or external service.

Email account size

When it comes to the capacity of email accounts, the dedicated server is undoubtedly the best solution. Having full control, you can create mailboxes of any size. The only limit will be the capacity of the server itself. But you must guarantee sufficient reliability. 

Price and costs

I know what you’re thinking: ‘the dedicated server, once properly installed, allows me to margin more because I don’t have to pay for space or individual email accounts’ Bravo! Now let’s do the math, shall we? A server that makes sense has an annual fee of about 2000€/2500€. Then you have to add some spares and all the external services we just listed: anti-spam, antivirus, migration tools, backups, the cost of doing it all over again when you have to get a new server, etc. The costs for these services are more varied, I leave the choice and calculation to you. Obviously, it will have to be online 24/24 and 365 days a year with the associated costs of electricity consumption. Unless you have a dedicated photovoltaic panel, the expense of electricity to keep the server running in 2022 is no longer negligible. Furthermore, whether it is done by you or by an outsourced specialist, every server needs system support, which will cost you either a lot of time or a lot of resources. 

And last but not least, like all hardware, the time of a dedicated server is running out, minute by minute. To guarantee your customers a high-performance service, you should consider changing machines once every 2/4 years. 

Still sure this is the most cost-effective solution?

In the second article of the series we analyze another alternative offered by the email hosting market: the email accounts offered by web hosting providers.

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