How LuxSci's Premium Services Differ from Free Email Services
by Steve Shannon, Lux Scientiae - May 2nd, 2005
Revised July, 2008 by Peter Capone.
When looking for an email outsourcing solution on the web, there are literally hundreds of hosting providers out there to sort through— many of them even offer "free" services. With so many different options to choose from, finding the solution that best meets the combined requirements of you, your business, and your budget can be quite a daunting task. The purpose of this article is to shed some light on what differentiates LuxSci premium services from the multitude of "free" or "cheap" solutions you may discover on your quest to fulfill your email outsourcing needs. In other words, we answer the question of what exactly makes a premium service... premium.
Just as a basic phone service will lack most advanced features like caller ID, call forwarding, encryption, etc., free email also lacks many valuable and useful features such as mail forwarding and aliasing; POP, IMAP, and SMTP connectivity to email clients like Outlook and Thunderbird; and reliable spam and virus filtering. As a simple example, Yahoo's free email package does not include any support for POP, IMAP, or SMTP relaying at all.
LuxSci's premium service is packed with features, and we are constantly adding new useful features to the list! We offer everything from the standard POP, IMAP, and SMTP to shared web calendars and address books, anonymous SMTP services, first-rate spam and virus filtering, mail forwarding and aliases, autoresponders, email signatures, and much more. Don't see something that you want? Send us a suggestion and you might see it in a future release! We are always interested in implementing new and useful features and options that our customers want and that will make our services even better.
Flexibility, Reliability, and Security
A major deterrence in choosing a one-size-fits-all free solution is that upgrading your account to match your changing needs can be difficult or impossible; often the few features and strict account limits that come with the free package are not open for negotiation. At LuxSci, we believe that you should only have to pay for what you use, you should never have to pay for what you don't, and you should be able to upgrade or downgrade at any time.
LuxSci gives you unparalleled freedom (1) to customize your account to fit your specific requirements and (2) to upgrade or downgrade your account whenever you want as your needs change. This includes choosing how many user email accounts you want, selecting the number of POP, IMAP, and SMTP licenses you'd like, and specifying how much disk space you'll need.
Another concern is that most free solutions like Yahoo offer no support for encrypted connections, even to their WebMail interface. This means that there is often no way to determine if you've connected to the right mail server or if it's some intermediary who is pretending to be your host. This also means that your username and password for your email are completely unprotected from online identity theft. To combat this issue, LuxSci offers full support for secure POP, IMAP, and SMTP relaying from most email clients. In addition, the LuxSci WebMail interface uses a secure connection to ensure that you are always connecting to us and not some "middle-man".
It's also worth mentioning that, with free hosts, quota limits on features like disk space are "hard" limits; if you do ever exceed your quota, your email account will be halted or even discontinued until you free up some space. If this happens you will not be able to receive any new emails sent to your address, and as a result these incoming messages will be lost!
Not with LuxSci, however. We provide "soft" limits on disk space and bandwidth. In the event that you exceed your disk space limit, you will simply be notified and will use and pay for "supplemental space," rather than having to cope with lost email.
Perhaps the most significant problem with opting for a free solution is the absence of any Service Level Agreement (SLA) to certify any guaranteed service or support. Without an SLA, your free provider holds absolutely no responsibility for any downtime or lack of service that prevents you from accessing your email, nor can they be held accountable should you lose any emails due to server crashes or other catastrophes that destroy your email data. They are not required to support or reimburse you in any way for lost services--services which can be vital to any individual or business that relies on the sanctity of their email.
A Credit to your Business
Whether your business is just getting off the ground or it's already an established entity, it is very difficult to build a respectable online business identity with a free host. You are usually limited to using email addresses at the domain that they provide for you (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) which cannot be transferred elsewhere (you can transfer your phone number, so why not your email?). Because these kinds of free email accounts are so easy to acquire, they are also actively used by spammers and perpetrators of fraud. As a result these accounts are not necessarily regarded as either professional or reliable, and that can reflect negatively on your business.
In addition, these hosts are prime targets for other spammers and mass-mailers sending out useless junk mail and malicious viruses. Despite this problem, free hosts offer very little in the way of quality spam or virus filtering--hardly enough to keep the spam and viruses at a level that will not be an impediment to productivity.
With LuxSci, you have the option to use your own domain for your email so that your business can uphold a unique online presence that you can control. You can feel confident in sending emails that bear your business's name and thus carry with it the integrity and veracity needed to survive in the online world. Furthermore, LuxSci offers both a Basic spam and virus filter and a Premium enterprise-level spam and virus filter.
Using a combination of Cloudmark spam filtering, Sophos and McAfee virus filtering, and a multitude of heuristic engines and custom rules updated every five minutes, Premium Email Filtering is guaranteed to stop viruses and 98% or more of all spam from ever hitting your inbox. Choose to have malicious emails denied or quarantined so that you can view them later, and configure accept/deny lists to ensure the treatment of specific email addresses or domains. You'll never have to sort through a torrent of useless emails ever again nor pay for the disk space they take up, so that your business can concentrate on the email that matters.
So What Makes Free — Free?
You may be surprised to find that many of the so-called "free" hosting solutions aren't really free at all. A good piece of advice is this--always read the fine print. For example, some companies advertise that they provide free domain services, but they neglect to tell you that registration and renewal fees for your domain may apply, and that you are responsible for making sure your domain does not expire. In addition, you may also be charged a setup fee just for establishing your account, and you may have to pay even more if you want even a moderate level of technical support from the provider.
At LuxSci, there are no hidden setup fees--the price you are quoted upon the purchase of your account is the price you pay. On top of that, all LuxSci customers benefit from our phenomenal technical support at absolutely no extra cost. Whether you're an administrator or just a regular user, LuxSci's courteous and knowledgeable tech support staff is available to help you via our online ticketing system, phone, or email.
As another example, one of the main selling points of free email solutions like Gmail and Yahoo Mail is the generous amount of disk space that comes free with your account. What you may not know, however, is just how these solutions are able to provide this:
A premium environment, such as that provided by LuxSci, is altogether different:
LuxSci may not be free, but we'd like to think that we're money well spent.
When you need help with something, how do you get it? Most places that offer free email solutions point you to either an online FAQ or ask you to email them. FAQ's are a useful tool but you have to search and search hoping to find the answer you want and then hope it is not out of date. When you send them an email, if you even can, then they never tell you when they'll respond or if they ever will. Sometimes, if you're lucky, they'll have a forum you can ask questions in. These are generally staffed by volunteers, who don't work for the company and who are generally not email experts. With LuxSci you get automatic access to our professional and expert support staff at absolutely not additional charge. You can even choose how to contact us! You can get support via the phone (something unheard of today), email, or support tickets. LuxSci Support Staff personally respond to most help requests within one hour. Try saying that for any of those free email services.
In Closing / Comparison Table
Granted, a free email solution may sometimes be ideal for your email. You can use this checklist and the comparison graph below to see if a free email service fits your requirements. If not, then perhaps LuxSci's premium service is for you!
Free email may be right for you if: