Even as the world shifts toward new digital communication channels like SMS to social media, email remains one of the most valuable tools around. Just about every small business needs email to communicate and thrive. This means they also need small business email hosting to succeed.

Unlike a free email account that ends in “gmail.com” or “yahoo.com,” a professional email address—one that ends in your domain name—signifies you’re committed to your job and an expert in your field. But in order to use a custom domain name and access the features, you need to manage your inbox like a pro and get a great hosting plan that’s suited for a business of your size.

We’ll explain what email hosting is and introduce you to some of the best email hosting services.

What is email hosting?

Email hosting is a service used to send and receive emails. Like a web hosting service allows customers to access your website from its domain name, an email hosting service enables them to contact you through a completely unique email address.

Your service provider will act as a permanent home for the emails you want to keep. The best plans often come with smart email storage features such as folder organization. Your email service will also give you additional storage for any attachments you receive.

Email hosting services are incredibly important for keeping your company secure. Even if you don’t opt for a pricey enterprise-level email plan, they often offer features like spam filtering, encryption, and virus protection, helping you keep your data safe.

Small business email hosting providers

You don’t need a massive budget to access a great email provider. With a quick web search, small business owners can find a long list of email services, each with its own pros and cons.

To help you narrow down your search, we’ve compiled a list of four excellent small business email hosting providers that will keep up with your business needs while preventing malware, spam, and more.

1. G Suite

Gmail is the top email service in the world with more than 1.5 billion users actively using the platform. G Suite is a particularly popular choice for small business owners thanks to its user-friendliness and its feature-rich platform, which you can subscribe to for a highly affordable price.

Even with the most basic plan—which only costs $6 per user per month—you gain access to high-quality email features such as:

  • The entire G Suite platform, which includes popular collaboration tools like Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Google Sheets
  • 30 GB of cloud storage in Google Drive
  • Spam protection
  • 24/7 customer support

If you exceed Gmail’s attachment limit of 25 MB (which is a typical price for hosting providers), the platform saves and sends your files as Google Drive links. And when you upgrade to a business or enterprise plan (starting at $12 per user per month), you get unlimited online storage in Google Drive in addition to powerful admin controls.

When you choose G Suite as your small business email hosting service, you can manage and promote your brand through Google My Business without leaving your central workspace.

2. Microsoft Office 365

If your company prefers collaborating through the Office 365 suite—which includes Microsoft Excel, OneDrive cloud storage, and more—Microsoft’s email service, Outlook, is for you.

Office 365 business plans start at just $5 per user per month, offering all clients access to Outlook’s email and calendar services as well as:

  • Web and mobile versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint
  • 1 TB of cloud storage in OneDrive
  • Microsoft Teams, for comprehensive team communication tools
  • Spam protection (with adjustable anti-spam settings)
  • 24/7 customer support

The highlight here is massive file storage capabilities for a considerably low price, though you have to pay more per user if you want to be billed monthly rather than make an annual commitment. You also have to upgrade to higher-tier plans (starting at $12.50 per user per month) to access the full Office 365 suite and desktop versions of each collaboration tool.

Still, this email hosting service is a helpful tool for larger teams scaling their operations. It also has more security features than G Suite, allowing you to set how frequently password changes are required and place team members in “security groups” with custom permissions.

3. Zoho Mail

If you only need the bare minimum from your small business email hosting service, you can save money by choosing Zoho Mail. With Zoho, you can choose a “Forever Free” plan that includes email hosting and 5 GB of email storage per user for up to five users.

When you upgrade to paid plans, which cost $1 or $4 per user per month, you get email and folder sharing capabilities, offline access, extremely high attachment limits, and the ability to create tasks in your inbox. You’ll also get the perk of Zoho calendars, which can help your team share schedules and sync appointments.

This is a great hosting option for solopreneurs or any small businesses that don’t seek enhanced file storage or extra collaboration tools.

However, if you choose a complete Zoho Workspace plan—which tacks on just $3 or $6 per user per month—you can get 250 MB of storage space in Zoho WorkDrive as well as access to collaboration tools for documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and video calls. Though Zoho may require a bit of a learning curve since it’s not as widely used as the options above, it is fairly user-friendly.

You can pay annually for email-only plans or pay $1 extra per user per month for monthly billing on Workspace plans.

Zoho Mail is highly recommended for anyone who already uses Zoho CRM for their business.

4. Rackspace

Rackspace isn’t a name you hear every day, but it offers a great email server. It uniquely offers a 100% uptime guarantee, which means it will never fail you when you need your email platform the most.

Like Zoho’s free or mail-only plans, Rackspace keeps it simple. For $2.99 per user per month, you get a 25 GB mailbox, spam protection, and unlimited email aliases with 24/7 support. Rackspace also offers its email clients optional add-ons like file storage, messaging, and archiving features.

Though Rackspace is undoubtedly the least robust email hosting service, it’s still a great option for small businesses that are just starting out or don’t need collaboration or conferencing tools.

If you’re switching to Rackspace from G Suite or Office 365, you can get free email migration services to make the process much easier.

Find the best budget-friendly email hosting services

Much like website hosting, secure email hosting is crucial for every small business owner who wants more professional features to work with clients, team members, and others. Many email hosting services will further offer spam and anti-virus protection as well as full office suites. These can help you work more efficiently in-house as your team grows.

As you choose the small business email hosting service that boosts your team’s communications, you may want to consider how you can improve how your team collaborates. Learn about how these seven communication channels can help you build a more connected team.

Adapt the way you do business. Press send.