For me, the ultimate email system has to include 4 things:
- - be available anywhere by a browser
- - an off-line mode where I can work on my laptop in an airplane or areas with no Internet access
- - mobile support for my Blackberry Curve
- - the above 3 must be synchronized
If I want to get more granular on my requirements, then I like to use flags and folders so I can sort my work, even in off-line mode. Plus, “rules” help put certain email with specific criteria into appropriate folders.
My system isn’t perfect, but each piece described below is deficient in something, thus the sum of all parts makes it greater than the sum of the individual parts.
My ultimate email system is as follows:
- my email is hosted by Gmail, with the domain CRMHelpDeskSoftware.com using Google Apps
- I use Outlook 2007 on my laptop, pulling mail in IMAP mode, not the traditional POP and SMTP method
- I use a Blackberry with the Gmail client, not the Blackberry Internet services
If you are running an Microsoft Exchange server in a corporate environment, then it compares with IMAP with Outlook running RPC/HTTPS plus offline cached mode.
Here are several reasons why I like my setup:
- If my Blackberry & laptop dies, I can always go to any browser with an Internet connection (just be careful not to save the username & password on that browser! And don’t forget to logout!)
- Outlook in IMAP mode works offline
- I cannot use my Blackberry on the airplane except for listening to MP3s and taking pictures
- Any mail sent out on my Outlook will be synchronized to the Gmail web client and BB (if you use POP/SMTP, this will not happen)
- I can organize with standard Outlook features: Folders, Rules, and Organize by Color (Gmail does not use folders, only filters and labels)
- I can sort by Sender or File size quickly
- I can consolidate some features in LinkedIn and Facebook into Outlook Contacts
- There is an extra layer of SPAM protection
If you want to read more about it, then you can read my ezinearticle on Combining the Power of Gmail and Outlook Email
My only incurred cost is the Outlook client software license plus Blackberry fees.
The only quirk is if you do a mail merge with Outlook, you can only send out 500 emails at a time in the Standard (free!) Google Apps. With the Premier edition ($50 per user per year), you can send out 2000 emails at a time.
But I use Aweber for my email campaigns, so that isn’t a problem for me.
As far as storage goes, my Outlook is unlimited if I create an off-line archive personal store file (PST). Outlook used to have a 2GB limit. Gmail is limited to 7Gb for Standard and 25Gb for Premier version. There are Ads in the free version, while the Premium is ad-free.
So, what does this have to do with Zoho?
Well it appears they have covered my favorite requirements in the above into their newly released Zoho mail. This rivals Google Apps, which I’m sure is purely intentional.
Some of their features include:
- host your MX record and email
- off line mode support
- incorporate folders
- free for first 10 users, then the 11th user onwards is $50 per user per year
- ad free
- mobile support
My comparison review in our test lab will have to wait for another day. Stay tuned.