Email Hosting Guide: How to Setup & Where to Host Your Business Email Accounts

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  • Updated: Mar 06, 2019

A self-hosted email (ie. [email protected]) shows the world your business and professional. A generic email (ie. [email protected]) project inexperience – or worse, raise doubts on whether you are a real company at all. Even if you are just a blogger running one-man-show, you should consider setting up a self-hosted email. Imagine yourself sending newsletter, you want your email looks good in your subscribers’ inbox.

In this article, we will learn how to host your own branded email and check out some good email hosting companies.

Setting Up Your Email Account

1- How to add your [email protected] at your host in cPanel

Before we begin, here are the things you need to own a self-hosted email account.

  1. A domain name (which you can purchase one at NameCheap for less than $15/year)
  2. A email hosting (which can be your existing website hosting or a brand new one)

Once you have these two, you can perform a simple “add email” setup at your host. For this article, we will demonstrate how to setup a self-hosted email account in cPanel.

Images I used in this article is the old version of cPanel, the process is exactly the same with the latest version cPanel.

  1. Login to your cPanel dashboard and find your way to “Email Accounts”.
  2. Click “Add Email” – input a new email username, account password, and the mail box quota (leave empty if you do not wish to set a limit).


Step #1: Click “Email Accounts” to initiate the setup process.


Step #2: The next screen you’ll see after clicking “Add Email”.
Step #3: And there you go – all done. For mail client setup (Outlook,, click “Yes” for your email server details (port, SMTP server name, etc).


2- What Makes A Good Email Hosting?

Similar to a good web hosting – reliability and flexibility are two most crucial factors. Other essential elements for a good email hosting include:

  • Secured – Your emails and data need to be safe from hackers and your business competitors.
  • Accessible – You should be able to heck and send emails at anytime from anywhere.
  • Spam & virus free – A good email host should provide adequate spam and virus protection.
  • Blacklist-Free – Your mail server needs to be free from black lists to get your emails delivered.

3- The difference between email hosting and web hosting

Sometimes users get confused between email and web hosting. The truth is  there’s little difference between a email and web host.

There are companies that brand themselves as “email hosting only provider” and there are companies that bundle email into their web hosting services. To save cost, most small businesses host their emails together at their web host .

4- Hosting your email accounts and domain in separated places

Some times you’ll need to host your email on a different server (ie. your original web host does not provide email hosting).

The configuration is simple and I have done it a couple times when I switched my web host from Hostgator to WP Engine. All you need to do is to update your MX record (following steps below) to route email messages through your new email servers.

What’s MX Record? 

MX record stands for Mail Exchange Records. Mail Exchange is simply another name for server whose primary function is to send and receive emails. A domain’s MX record can be seen using various free lookup tools available online (for example, MX Tool Box; and can be only changed at the domain registrar (where you register your domain name, ie. GoDaddy, Network Solution, etc).

How to change your email hosting 

Screen shot was taken in 2011 when I switched my host from Hostgator to WP Engine.
  1. Obtain the MX records of your mail server from your web host. Here’s how a MX record looks like: IN A IN MX 0
  2. Add server IP to A (Host) – type “Mail” under “Host” and your IP address ( under “Points To”.
  3. Add MX info by adding the second line to Mail Exchanger, – type “0”’ under priority, ‘@’ under Host, and ‘’ under Goes To.
  4. Done. Note that if you are using GoDaddy, you need to find your way into Total DNS Control (refer to image above) to input these data.


5- How to check if your mail server is blacklisted

Check your server IP or domain realtime black list status with MX Tool.

If you don’t know your mail server’s address, start with a MX Lookup.   Or, just send an email to [email protected]



Best Email Hosting for Small Businesses

Now that you have everything you need to know about hosting your own email at your own domain. It’s time to pick up the right email hosting. The following are my recommendations – based on my test results* and usage experience.

We signup and test web hosting services ourselves. Till date, we have tested (with the help of Pingdom and Uptime Robot to track server uptime; and Bitcatcha to measure server response speed) and reviewed more than 60 hosting companies. You can learn more about the hosting companies we reviewed in this list.

HostClassHost Website?Unlimited Emails?Spam ProtectionPriceLearn
InMotion HostingBudgetSpam Assassin$3.99/moDetails
BlueHostBudgetSpam Expert$2.95/moDetails
A2 HostingBudgetBarracuda$3.49/moDetails
Liquid WebPremiumGatekeeper Scan, Message Sniffer, and moreHosting fees + $1/mailbox/moDetails
RackSpacePremiumIn-house Program$2/mailbox/moDetails



WHSR receive referral fees from some of the companies mentioned in this article. It takes lots of effort and money to create useful content like this – your support is highly appreciated.



Below we will take a closer look on the price and email features provided by these providers.

1- InMotion Hosting


Based in both Lost Angeles California, InMotion Hosting has been around for more than 15 years..

The hosting company is outstanding in many ways – we have rated them as one of the best for the past years. This website you are reading now and my team member’s emails are all hosted at InMotion Hosting.

 What Makes InMotion’s Email Hosting Tick?

  • Reliable hosting server with >99.95% server uptime record
  • Configure and manage their emails without logging into cPanel.
  • Signup at $3.99/mo, 90 days money back guarantee.
  • Business established in year 2001; BBB Accredited & rated A+ in year 2003.

InMotion Hosting’s Email Features 

  • Host unlimited email addresses in one account
  • Secured email via IMAP.
  • Compatible with all desktop clients (Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook) and mobile phones (including BlackBerry)
  • Good spam protection – Spam Assassin included with all Business Hosting plan for free.

Besides email hosting, I also find InMotion Hosting a good choice for hosting business websites. You can learn more about them in my InMotion Hosting review.

Manage emails from InMotion AMP

InMotion Hosting users get to setup and access their emails from Account Management Panel (AMP) – big plus for those who want a simple email hosting solution.

InMotion Hosting Uptime Record

No outages were recorded at InMotion Hosting in December 2017 / January 2018.

InMotion Hosting Uptime (Mar 2017): 100%


InMotion Hosting Speed Test

InMotion Hosting speed test.



2- BlueHost


BlueHost has been around since early 2000’s. The brand “BlueHost” is well-known among webmasters and it is officially recommended as the “Best WordPress Hosting” by

Email hosting at BlueHost is extremely affordable, with plans starting as low as $2.95 per month.

What makes we like BlueHost email Hosting?

  • Solid server performance – our test site at BlueHost scores back-to-back 100% uptime constantly.
  • Cheap entry price – starts as low as $2.95/mo.
  • Rich supports in web mail solutions and spam filters.
  • Free domain name – register and manage everything in the same account.

BlueHost Email Features 

  • Free one domain name on signup
  • Spam filters support: SpamAssassin, SpamExperts.
  • Compatible with all desktop clients (Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook) and mobile phones (including BlackBerry)
  • Webmail support: RoundCube, SquirrelMail, and Horde.

Learn more in my BlueHost Hosting review.

Accessing BlueHost Webmail

You can login to your email account at


BlueHost Uptime Record

BlueHost server uptime (March 2017): 100%

BlueHost server uptime July 2016: 100%

BlueHost Speed Test

BlueHost server speed test: B+



3- A2 Hosting


We’ve been using A2 Hosting since 2013 and we are extremely happy with its performance.

The folks at A2 Hosting are heavily obsessed with their server speed and pride themselves as the fastest host in the market. The host stores everything in SSD and comes with 10 GB redundant networks, 64 GB of RAM, and 12-core server.

Why host your email accounts at A2 Hosting?

Note that we are recommending A2 Hosting services because we think they are a very good web host in overall.

Their price is relative higher compare to the previous two option. If you are looking for a simple and cheap server to host your emails – then InMotion Hosting or BlueHost maybe the better option.

A2 Hosting Email Features 

  • Access email safely via POP3-SSL / IMAP-SSL / SMTP-SSL.
  • Compatible with all desktop clients (Apple Mail, Thunderbird, Outlook) and mobile phones (including BlackBerry)
  • Webmail support: RoundCube, SquirrelMail, and Horde.
  • Barracuda Advanced Spam Filtering
  • Add 25 email addresses with Lite Plan ($3.92/mo). Unlimited email only available for Swift and Turbo plan – which cost $4.90/mo and $9.31/mo.

Learn more in my A2 Hosting review.

A2 Hosting Server Uptime Record

A2 Hosting uptime (Jun 2017): 99.99%.

A2 Hosting uptime (Aug 2017): 100%.

A2 Hosting Speed Test

Our test site hosted at A2Hosting loaded in less than 60 ms for US West Coast test port. Host is faster than 86% of samples according to Bitcatcha.



4- LiquidWeb Web Premium Business Email


Founded in 1997 by Matthew Hill, LiquidWeb wholly owns and manages three data centers with over 550 employees.

While you can setup a normal email at LiquidWeb just like BlueHost; you can also get a premium business email hosting with additional cost. LiquidWeb offers three different premium email hosting plans: Standard ($1/mailbox/mo), Plus ($2/mailbox/mo), and Microsoft Exchange ($10/mailbox/mo).

LiquidWeb = Affordable Premium Business Email Hosting

  • Relatively cheaper: LiquidWeb charge $1/mailbox/mo for start; whereas RackSpace costs minimum $2/mailbox/mo*.
  • Free domain and user aliases.
  • Free 30GB cloud storage, online spread sheets editing, and Mobile Sync contacts and calendars for Plus account.

* Hosting cost is not included in this price. Liquid Web Premium Business Email is not sold separately. 

LiquidWeb Email Features

  • 25GB mailboxes with Outlook auto setup
  • Chat via webmail plus 50MB attachments.
  • Four level spam filters: Gatekeeper Scan, Message Sniffer, Cloudmark Fingerprinting, and Clam AV.


LiquidWeb Email Hosting in a glance



5- RackSpace Email


RackSpace was voted as the Best Hosted Exchange for 2011. The company provides 14 days trial period back then and I tried their services briefly.

The company remains as one of the industry leaders today and offers reliable enterprise-level email hosting services.

What makes RackSpace email hosting tick?

  • Well-recognized brand – one of the top players in managed hosting service industry.
  • Premium email service at reasonable price (RackSpace Email at $2/month/25GB mailbox).
  • Choices in RackSpace Email, Exchange, and Office 365.
  • RackSpace Fanatical Support – award-winning technical support in call, live chat, or email ticket.

RackSpace Email Features

  • 25 GB mailbox with 50 MB attachments.
  • Free email migrations for new users.
  • Advanced message-filtering and SMS password reset for RackSpace Webmail.


RackSpace Order Screen

Note that RackSpace requires a minimum order of $10/mo. This might be a big turn off for individual users or small businesses.

A minimum spending of $10/mo is required to become RackSpace user.
Screen shots of my email inbox at RackSpace (2011).



Microsoft 365?

While my team members’ emails are hosted at InMotion Hosting, my personal email account is hosted at Microsoft 365.

I did not include Microsoft 365 in the list above because

  1. I had very tough time getting started with them, and
  2. I think they are only suitable for cooperate users.

It was confusing to setup and use Microsoft 365.

In many occasions, I can’t access certain configuration page after multiple admin logins.

The company has a strange way of documenting their tutorials and help files. In many occasions, I had to bumped around the company sites (like thisthis, this, and this site) just to get some simple answers.

And Microsoft (for some reasons) have changed the name of their service multiple times over the last seven years.

The email system sync flawlessly after setup. But the user experience (especially during troubleshooting) isn’t as good.



Relevant Resources

We have also published a number of actionable guide for those who are searching for a host.

Article by Jerry Low

Geek dad, SEO data junkie, investor, and founder of Web Hosting Secret Revealed. Jerry has been building Internet assets and making money online since 2004. He loves mindless doodling and trying new food.