Welcome to MNA’s new technology column, Digital Diagnosis. You’ve got tech questions? Our Digital Media Committee has answers. Send us an email with your question at email@example.com.
We are having difficulties with email reliability. Sometimes messages bounce back or aren’t delivered from other people. We need to make a change, but find the choices confusing. Should we should pay to go with a national service, such as Google or GoDaddy? What are other newspapers using for a host for their email server?
-David Phillips, Bluff Country Newspaper Group
Email can be a difficult hurdle to cross, it’s similar to changing website hosts or deciding to go with a new domain name – what is the best option and how difficult will the transition be are often the first questions asked.
Generally speaking my first recommendation in sourcing email options is to look at what you are using now and what has not been working. Some of these items are not necessarily tied 100% percent to your email provider; outdated equipment, inadequate internet connections and faulty hardware can also contribute to these symptoms you are describing.
Assuming that all the other pieces of the puzzle are functioning as they should, let’s weigh some of the options in using the different types of email.
Many working professionals are used to Microsoft Outlook, we’ve used it since we began using email at work, and over the years that just what we’ve stuck with. Little do many of us realize that Outlook is merely a shell, an “email client” that allows us to access the information that is stored on the email server. What it really means is that we could use any number of different email servers, but the end product (to us) looked the same. In the late 90’s Hotmail and Yahoo became widely used email providers and introduced us to the idea of web-based email – or accessing our server-based email through a web portal. Many of us have also become acclimated to the idea of a web portal because it’s usually included with any type of email hosting service.
Long story short- if you’re used to using Outlook and have not used Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo Mail, you may be in for a bit of a shock no matter what you go with.
For me the biggest question I would ask is what other online tools do you use, or are planning to use. A major benefit of going with Google is that they also have a suite of products that are geared towards collaboration and business- Google Drive, Forms, Hangouts, etc. and they have done a fabulous job of integrating with mobile devices.
I have been a personal Google user for years, and we just recently made the leap in the office to Google as well. It has been fantastic- it’s never been easier to share calendars, invites, documents, and presentations than with this. And because Google has integrated so much into their products, they are continually improving the ways their services can interact with each other.
It has come with a bit of a steep learning curve- many of us were die-hard Outlook and Office fans, but if you can be open to learning a new way to do things- you will definitely reap more benefit than hardship. The upside is with Google Search and Youtube, there are countless ways that you can find how-tos and training videos that can help you learn. Even if you don’t go with Google, a search will yield fantastic results for almost any how-to question.
Another thing to consider is that someone as large as Google will likely not be going away, so it would be a fairly safe bet for a long-term solution.
One option that you can try, since Google offers both personal and business accounts, is giving the waters a test by creating a personal account and seeing how you like it- although honestly if you wanted to just jump in you could certainly do that too.
I write a regular tech column, and they’ve grown accustomed to me lauding Google and their efforts, but it’s for a good reason- they’ve got good products, reliability and they are continually improving what they do.
There are lots of options out there right now, at the end of the day if you are talking about email exclusively, they will deliver about the same result… but if you look at the long range plan and what your potential can be for growing how you do business- Google might be a good option to look at.
-Phil Seibel, MNA Digital Media Committee
VP of Revenue Development, Brainerd Dispatch