There are many important decisions to make when taking your business online – choosing a web and email hosting provider is one of them.
There are dozens of hosting providers out there, covering all bases and budgets. Some businesses choose to use the same host for both their website and email, while others opt to use different hosting providers for each. Though there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to picking your host, the size and the budget of your business will often determine what option you choose.
If you’re deliberating whether to use the same website and email host (or if you’re unsure what a web host and email host have to offer), it’s worth understanding the advantages and drawbacks of shared hosting to make the best decision for you and your business.
What’s the difference between web and email hosting?
With so many different hosting services available, and with some providers offering combined plans, it can be daunting to understand the difference between web hosting and email hosting. To clarify your options, here’s a quick summary of what both services include:
- Website hosting – in a nutshell, a web host is a service that allows a business, organization, or individual to post their website online and make it viewable to everyone on the Internet. A web host will allocate a business space to store their files on the web server, and their website can then become active and accessible online.
- Email hosting – an email host is a provider who rents out email servers to their users. By using an email host, businesses can use their domain name in their email and have their incoming and outgoing emails managed by a dedicated mail server.
Do you need to use both?
Website and email hosting are two separate services and can run independently of one another. You can set up a website without an email host and, vice versa, you can use an email host if you don’t have a website, too.
While email hosting isn’t a necessity on your site, it can be incredibly beneficial for your business and can easily be linked to your domain name– whether your website is hosted by the same provider or not.
There are lots of advantages to using an email host over a free email provider. Email hosting secures your inbox and ensures you can access your emails anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection. Using a hosting solution allows you to choose your email domain name, meaning you can incorporate your business name into your email and add a touch of professionalism.
Using the same web and email hosting: Yes, or no?
Email is one of the most important tools for a small business owner and can make a real difference to your success, sales, and customer satisfaction. A lot of businesses – big and small – turn to an email host to optimize their business emails, while some choose to use the same website and email host (also known as “bundled hosting”).
It’s most common for a business to use the same solution for both their web and email hosting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only option. Whether you should use the same website and email hosting provider is an important decision to make, and the best option will vary from business to business, depending on what you hope to get out of the service.
Here’s a full breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages to using the same website and email hosting to help you decide:
Advantages of shared hosting
- Easy to set up – using the same hosting provider means you don’t have to manage your email on a separate account, and you’ll be familiar with the host and how they operate from the way they’ve handled your website.
- Cost-effective – web hosts often throw in email hosting as part of a bundle deal, meaning you can use both services for a much cheaper price than using two independent providers.
- Most of the same perks of using an email host – if you use a web hosting service for your email, you’ll still get access to most of the advantages of using an independent email host such as a domain name, and access to your email anywhere.
- Option to host multiple emails – some shared hosting services offer the option to host several small email accounts for one fixed price as part of their web and email bundle.
- A viable option for small businesses – shared website and email hosting is most commonly used by small businesses, who have less manpower and finances to split the services between two providers.
Disadvantages of shared hosting
- Shared hosting eats away at your website space – using the same host for both your website and email means all your inbound and outbound mail, as well as any attachments from your correspondence, is stored on the same account and uses up precious space as well as the bandwidth that could be going towards your website.
- Failed servers mean complete shutdown – by using the same website and email host, you’re vulnerable to a total blackout if the provider goes down. Although highly unlikely, if all servers fail, clients won’t be able to contact you via your site or email, cutting all forms of communication.
- Not feasible for big enterprises – the bigger your business is, the more database support and higher server configuration you’ll require, which is too taxing for most shared hosting bundle packages.
- Lengthy email migration if you change web provider – if you ever want to move your website to a different server, the process is much trickier if you’re using the same host for your email. Website migration is relatively easy, but email migration can be very complicated and challenging, especially for those who are not conversant.
Shared web and email hosting: the verdict
Using the same website and email host can save a business money and make the set-up process incredibly easy. There are dozens of bargain bundle deals available if you opt to use the same hosting provider, and shared hosting can even be managed for you by an external provider to relieve you of the technical side of things.
If you’re looking for a more high-tech email service and have the budget and people to manage it, it can actually be more advantageous to use two separate services for your web and email hosting.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a cheap, easy-to-use, and basic functioning email service, a shared host bundle is a great option for you. If your business requires an email service that can support a bigger database while maintaining a higher functionality, you’ll benefit from investing in a separate, specialized email host.
Why do businesses still use the same website and email host?
Despite the benefits of using separate hosts, a lot of businesses still tend to use the same website and email hosting.
Some businesses, especially small businesses, still opt to use the same website and email host because they’re not fully conversant with the world of hosting, and they want all their data to be easily accessible in one place.
A lot of businesses using shared hosting are also working on a tight budget. In the past, using two separate services required IT staff and extra manpower to run in-house mail servers, something a smaller business couldn’t afford to do.
The introduction of cloud services may have alleviated the staff requirements (where the running of email can now be manned digitally), but it hasn’t made the option of using separate hosts completely viable for most small budget-businesses.
Running an email account through a separate host is always more costly than a shared hosting bundle deal, so many new and small businesses still choose to use shared hosting in their start-up days.
How to configure email on a different host
You might initially choose a shared hosting plan, but then decide it’s not for you. This is completely fine as you’re not locked into using the same host for your website and email; you can outsource your email to a different host if you change your mind.
Using a different email host to your web host might seem like a confusing and complicated prospect – which is one of the main reasons business owners put off separating their hosting services, but it’s not an impossible task.
To migrate your email to a different provider, you’ll need to obtain the DNS records for your domain. You should be able to locate these in your domain’s DNS records or get them from your domain registrar. Your records should give you two sets of details:
- The “A” record – also known as the address record, determines which IP address belongs to your domain.
- The MX record – also known as a mail exchanger record, specifies the mail server used by your domain.
Once you’ve obtained this data from your DNS records, you’re ready to sign up to your chosen independent email hosting service and configure your MX records to point your domain (and your emails) to your new host instead.
A lot of registrars will provide you with the option to edit and modify the DNS records on their interface. This allows you to delete, edit or add a new MX record and direct your emails to a separate host yourself, by simply inputting the DNS data for your new email host in the place of your existing one.
Other registrars might need to be contacted with a request to redirect your domain’s A record. Instructions of how to do so will always be specified somewhere in their guidelines, so it’s worth checking the specifications of your current host to find out more.
Making the right hosting choices
Choosing the right hosting solution is crucial when taking your business online. Think of your hosting provider as an employee; you want to select the best candidate for the job.
When it comes to choosing your email hosting solution, your business’ size and budget will most likely be the deciding factor. Small businesses with less equity often opt for using the same website and email host, which is the best option when starting. More prominent companies, with bigger budgets and employees to take care of it, will choose to use separate hosts to guarantee better performance.