Yes, you DO need a hosted Exchange Server

16 Comments

I am the first to admit that I am not a typical mobile device user, after all I always have multiple devices in the rotation for review purposes.  We have always been clear at jkOnTheRun that we believe almost everyone should have a hosted Exchange Server account now that they have gotten pretty cheap to have.  Today I was doing a lot of different things at Mobile Tech Manor (MTM) and realized something that drove the Exchange Server benefits even closer to home so at the risk of being redundant I am once again stating that my personal belief is that everyone should have a hosted Exchange Server account.

Now, calm down, I know that most people just want to do simple POP email and that I will hear a lot of "Exchange Server is overkill for me" comments but I want you to listen to me before saying that.  What got me revisiting the hosted Exchange Server (ES) benefits this morning was taking a look around my office in MTM and counting the devices that I use with my ES.  I counted seven devices that happily work with my ES with no interaction on my part!  I know that’s unusual and I’m not pointing that out to lord that over anyone, I have said often how fortunate I am to be in the business I am in.  No, the reason I point that out is because as I was thinking about all the devices that work with my hosted ES I also realized that I can pick any one of them up at any time and it will give me an accurate reflection of my personal data.  Email, tasks, notes and calendar are up-to-date on all of them without any action on my part.  I enjoy this every day but rarely think about it because it just works, and that’s the mark of an excellent enabling technology.

A hosted Exchange Server account brings other benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked, the most significant of which is that my data is backed up and retrievable no matter what happens to any one of these devices.  I have the information existing not only in Outlook, my daily PIM manager, but on each of the devices as well.  Taking that even further the host of my Exchange Server backs up all of my data daily too, so even if all seven devices took a dive at once (heaven forbid) I could still get at my important data and bring a new device into specs in just a few minutes.  That is powerful stuff indeed.  Even if you are more typical than I and just have a mobile PC and a desktop, or maybe a PC and a PDA, you will see the benefits just as I do and they will end up being no less important to you than to me. 

One of my seven devices using the ES is my MacBook Pro and even though I don’t like Entourage it does work well with the Server.  That means that my benefits are not just multi-device but cross-platform as well.  Throw into the mix that one of the devices is a Nokia N95 and you realize that my ES benefits cross five platforms- Windows (Vista & XP), Mac OS X, S60 3rd edition, RIM BlackBerry and Windows Mobile.  Five different platforms that interoperate with my work needs without any input on my part.  The hosted Exchange Server just works flawlessly with each of them and keeps me able to pick up any one of the seven devices and have the ability to access my important emails and PIM data without a thought.  The ability to put important documents in public folders on the Server means I can access them anywhere too.  That’s heady stuff.

Hosted Exchange Servers seem overkill for the average user but I assure you they are not.  Couple that with the fact that you can pick an account up for pretty decent money and I believe everyone should have one.  If you are a Windows Mobile user like me then the ES will let you avoid the bane of our existence, Windows Mobile Device Center on Vista.  Since my Windows Mobile devices can access the ES directly I don’t have to attach them to a PC, and that makes my life much happier.  Even if you just use one PC in your life the hosted Exchange Server will come to your aide if you get a new computer.  Maybe you have to send your PC in for repair (heaven forbid) and you get use of a loaner from someone you can still get at your data.  Most hosts will let you access your data with Outlook Web Access meaning you can interact with your PIM stuff using the web browser on most any device that can access the web.  It’s heady stuff for sure.

16 Comments

michael

I am planning to get the new iPhone and had thought Mobile Me owuld be the perfect (easy) push solution to syn my office and home PCs (both running XP with Outlook 2003 for mail and calendar) and the iPhone. Seems that will not work, since MobileMe only pushes @me.com addresses, and I want o keeep and use my business email addresses.

Will an exchange server such as MailStreet work? Any simpler services? It is just me with one phone and two PCs.

Thanks.

T J

Well I’ve been looking at hosted mail recently.

The current options (for me) are:
Sherweb
SimplyMailSolutions
Mail2Web
4smartphone

My problem is that I’ve owned my own domain for a while, and when registering on sites I use the format “sitename@mydomain.com”. However MOST exchange hosting companies do not allow the catch-all option. They will allow you to add multiple aliases, but for me this would be hugely time consuming!

However I am seeing the huge benefits in having a hosted exchange service, purely from the instant mail on my smartphone, and having the contacts and calendar all constantly up to date in one place.

T-Will

Those of you who use ES, what’s your solution for file sync? Do you just sync files with your PC every so often?

Andreas

Ok guys, you convinced me. I just signed up at sherweb.com. I’m curious if James is right and I will be more productive at once ;-).

GoodThings2Life

I like Exchange so much that I host my own Exchange Server for personal use.

Having desktop and web access (and now Mobile access– yes, I just caved in and bought my first cellphone ever, a Sprint Mogul) to the same set of data– email, calendar, tasks, and notes– is a lifesaver.

If you’re currently using Outlook with a PST file for POP3 accounts, you can easily import that data into a hosted exchange setup and then ditch the desktop-only PST file (that probably hasn’t been backed up in ages, if ever). This includes personal folders.

JK, you’re definitely right– Exchange is definitely the way to go. The only negative is the one Matt mentioned above that Outlook and WM phones only support one Exchange account at a time. So if you use it at work, you have to make a decision on which you want to use through ActiveSync’s DirectPush or which you want to use through IMAP4 (and not have access to more than email).

In my case, I made the decision that it’s a personal phone, so work email is just an “extra”. If work wants to pay for the phone, I’ll gladly switch that, lol.

Jamie Poster

Oh, thank god for this posting! I’ve been playfully arguing with my good friend Dan over the necessity of Exchange. I feel vindicated! And, of course that’s because I agree with all of your points, James. My device menagerie, a bit smaller than yours, also spans a few OSs.

Oh, and just in case anybody’s interested, I use sherweb.com. They’re a smaller company, the prices are decent and the customer service is fantastic.

Jake

Don’t that the other big benefit of Exchange is OWA which allows you to access your email wherever you’ve got access to Internet Explorer.

Cesar Cardoso

Hi James,

Don’t forget you can use hosted Exchange servers with Linux desktops (via Exchange Connector for Evolution), PalmOS (Versamail), an awful lot of phones (Dataviz Roadsync) and even natively on some Motorola phones, including the lovelies A1200, ROKR E6, ROKR Z6 and RAZR2 V8 (MOTOSYNC).

And yes, having an hosted mail solution (I use an Zimbra hosted server with SimplyMailSolutions.com) is a must if you need to take your email seriously :)

Matt Faulkner

Now if only Outlook would allow more that ONE Exchange account…. Without having to set up different profiles. One good thing about pop, it that I have 1 exchange account and 3 POP accounts all coming in to the same profile.

Dave Zatz

I use a hosted Yahoo server. All my contacts and mail are also hosted and backed up centrally, I have excellent spam control, large amount of storage, and the service works on most of my devices. (Yahoo Go for syncing contacts onto phones.) $20/yr! Work also hosts Exchange for me, so I’ve got that too.

lark

Will a Microsoft Exchange use the existing set of personal folders?

I have time and billing software that has a conduit that allows for syncing between that proprietary calendar and Outlook (2003). This works fairly well. Entries made in either calendar, show up on the other. When I sync with my BlackBerry, appointments, contacts (no email), also are sent to the BB. Appointments created on the BB are synced with Outlook and then put in my time and billing software calendar.

The problem is that when I signed up for, and tried to set up a BB Enterprise server, the company created their own calendar, and my time and billing software could not see it. No appointments or contacts were being synced through the conduit. I had an exchange server, but no integration with the program I need the most. I gave up.

Do you know if simply a MS Exchange Server would use my existing Outlook calendar? Or do all exchange servers use their own calendar?

I d/n care about email delivery, since I seem to get my emails within a few minutes, even just using BIS

Steve Paine

Hi James

Does it all work over port 80? Many people are being offered unlimited ‘Internet’ access in Europe that is turning out to be port 80 only. (HTTP) Can those people get the services in this restricted mobile environment?

Generally I would advise to stay with a service that is port 80 only to assist mobility between service providers and countries.

Regards
Steve.

James Kendrick

Gilson, I use MailStreet and have for over 6 years. I am very happy with them but they are expensive and really geared more for small business use. Kevin uses 4smartphone and is happy with them the last I asked about it.

Gilson

JK,
I’ve been using a free Exchange account at mail2web. It works fine, but I’m ready to go for a more definitive solution. Where do you host your account? Sherweb seems to be a nice option…
Regards,

Gilson

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