Should a Small Business run their own email server?

You have a small business and your IT consultant said you need a server to store your files and manage your email.

Yes, you could have (or do have) a MS Windows 2003 or 2007 Small Business Server. It is storing all your files, storing and managing your email. The Windows SBS 2003 and 2007 server platform has been a great option for small businesses that “NEED” to have a server and want to have their email in house.

I often wonder though why you would want to spend the money on maintaining a server like that for a small business (less than 10). Most small business don’t do maintenance/monitoring¬†on their servers and then are in a world of hurt when their email server crashes.

A typical Windows Small Business Server install for a less than 10 user company can average $5-8k. Technically the server should be under management by an IT firm and that costs from $300 – $500 monthly. You first year costs alone can end up over $10k and that doesn’t even include your workstations.

What should  your use for an email solution?

For the purpose of this post you are going to keep your server for now. If you don’t have a server wait for the next article about what to do now.

For your email I suggest you move your company to Google Apps for email hosting. There are many reasons why and here are a few:

  • Easy setup
  • Completely web based
  • Works on ALL platforms (Mac/PC/iPhone/iPad/Android)
  • Nothing to crash/get stolen/grow old/need replacement

The most important reason is COST.

Getting email from Google Apps has a base cost of $0.00 for up to 50 users and 7 gigs of storage per user. If you need more storage you can go Premier for $50 per with 25 gigs of storage per user.

If you went with Premier your cost per year for 10 users would be $500. If you went with MS exchange your first year cost alone for hardware/software/setup would be a minimum of $5000 if you had a qualified tech put it together. Then you also have to figure in your early maintenance on the server, Spam and Virus filter solutions.

But my data isn’t safe when it is hosted somewhere else.

You really think your email is safe sitting in your office? Really? I don’t care if you have the best security system. If someone wants your server they will do a smash and grab and it’s all gone. And since you are a small business and your budget is tight I would guess that you are probably not doing OFFSITE backups. So now your server is gone along with all the data on it. What do you do now? You are screwed and someone has all your confidential emails.

But I love outlook.

You can still have outlook if you must. But I will do everything I can to convince you to switch.

I wanna use GoDaddy or “insert hosting company here” email solution it’s free

Google Apps Standard is free. But even if it wasn’t it would still be a better solution than ANYTHING available right now. Stop going with the cheapest crappiest product. Use one of the best and still be cheap and possibly zero cost.

But, but, but, but….

NO BUTS. Your email is important. Choose a better solution that is also cost effective. Your business AND employees will thank you for it.

What if I didn’t know about this. Know what do I do?

You can be migrated off your current MS Exchange (Windows Small Biz Server) with MINIMAL downtime. ASK US HOW. Ask us for your own free copy of our “How to setup Google Apps” guide

Or you can download it here:
How to Setup Google Apps


  1. Orange County Internet Marketing on March 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Hey Loren,
    It’s funny reading this piece, I actually JUST migrated one of my clients off of exchange to Google Apps! The migration was a snap and a total cost cutter! Sure, having exchange is really nice; but, really, imap is just as well, too. Especially if you’re organization is less than 100 users or so… Actually, I’d put that number higher.

    Good piece! =) See you at the next #OCWP

  2. Loren Nason on March 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I think the smaller the organization the larger the value is. When you start dealing with 100+ users you already have an admin on staff full time (maybe even 3).

    I assume you are aware but with Google Apps you can connect the phones with “exchange” settings. And when you go Premier and the users scream for outlook it hooks up the same way with exchange. The setup on the iPhone ROCKS.

    I’ve never been an imap fan. Why? don’t know but I’ve used and supported exchange since 1997 when 5.0 came out. I’ve always loved to full blown sync including contacts and calendars (which im do not think IMAP does that well)

    I switched completely to Google Apps 2 years ago. I had other accounts before that but my main domain is now Google Apps.

    Next up is ditching the iPhone 3GS and going Android!

    Thanks for stopping by Alex. See you at the next meetup

  3. ernie on May 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    If we switch our 25 users from Exchange email (Outlook) to gmail can we keep our email domain name or do we have to switch to

  4. Loren Nason on May 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm


    With Google Apps the only choice is your domain name
    EX ->
    My email for my domain is on google apps

    FYI, If you want to use the FREE version of Google Apps you will need to signup NOW to be able to get up to 50 users free. After May 10th Google Apps will only be free up to 10 users. After 10 users you need to go Premier and pay $50 per user.

    You can signup now but not migrate that way you can get the 50 user limit.

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