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Email – Best Practice & Outages
18th October, 2010

We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling when you realise that your email is just not working.  You hit ‘send and receive’ a couple of times, an error message pops up – ‘wrong password’, or worse your emails bounce and you site just thinking to your self – “what’s going on – what have I done (wrong)?”

So you start checking – you nip over to your webmail (http://mail.yourdomainname.com) and see if that works.  If you fiddle with something it might all be right – so you open Outlook ‘Accounts’ and attempt to remember your  password that you carefully wrote down somewhere.

Next you might wait a bit – see if that helps or you might call someone, a colleague or friend – and finally you’ll get on the phone to the IT dept or indeed myself as your email provider.

All in all is a bit of a nightmare.  If you email has actually ‘gone down’ and you have urgent messages to send it’s awkward, unprofessional and annoying.  So just what is the best way around all this.

My solution is really really simple and solves not only email outages, but a host of other problems as well.  Use Webmail – all the time.  Just use Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo all of the time.

If it’s just you (and maybe one or two others) then using any of the big free services will work perfectly, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo means you can set everything up easily and quickly… You can still use your ‘real’ email address,  you can still access your mail via webmail… you can still download your email to Outlook: Let me really clear.


If you are a large organisation that without a seconds thought – you should use Gmail – If you have a lot of users then for all your email needs you should use Google Apps to give you unparalleled control over your email set up.

So what problems does this solve?

  1. It’s far less likely one of these service will ‘go down’ – they have tremendous resources devoted to them and millions of user depend on them.  It’s a bit like letting the big banks fail… it just won’t happen.
  2. Even if Gmail does go down – you still have your normal ‘webmail’ to check your email (and use) – so you have a built in reserve system ready to go.
  3. If you email does go down – your life is unaffected – just use the Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo instead.  It’s all set up.
  4. The only way you’ll have an issue is if both your email and Gmail (or similar) goes down.  Highly unlikely.
What to do?
So what exactly do you have to do:  It’s simple – set up (if you haven’t already) a dedicated Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo and use it’s features to access your normal email – Get your normal email into Gmail.
Next – once you are happy with the set up you can start organising your email online (not through Outlook).
If you want to use Outlook you can – it’s a matter of setting up a new IMAP account (IMAP will replicate your Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo in Outlook)
And that is largely it.  Your done.
Additional Benefits
There are lots of extra benefits to doing this
  1. Back up – you’ll always have two copies of everything in too entirely different places.
  2. Mobile – the three free service offer excellent on-the-go mobile email integration – highly convenient
  3. Security – with an additional layer of security your email is actually ‘removed’ from your computer.  Using Gmail means you don’t actually have to have a copy of sensitive information on your computer/laptop.  It much more likely your laptop will be stolen than your Gmail is compromised.
  4. And then there is everything else – you can actually start using your email to do things… rules, organisation, chat, telephony, replies, reliability, spam – everything is extremely easy to configure and organise yourself – there is no need to get the IT Dept involved… Autoresponders, search, contact address books and the ability to log into multiple websites… with a Gmail account you can actually do an awful lot on the Internet.
Contact me
If you want additional advice or want to start taking the steps towards more reliable and a better way of handling email – particular in a small to medium sized organisation then please contact me.