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The Complete Email Hosting Guide: Best Email Hosts & Setup Tutorial

Update notes: Facts checked and new email host features added.

For the layman, email hosting is usually associated with major providers such as Google or Yahoo since it is free and comes with limitless storage. However, businesses often have different requirements and it is generally a good idea to look towards business email hosting.

While there are free versions available with many web hosting companies, many businesses take advantage of the flexibility and power of professional email hosting services. Professional email hosting usually involves emails being managed by a separate or dedicated mail server.

How Custom Email Works

What is a Hosted Email?

A hosted or custom email address is a unique email identifier that is specifically tailored to match your website domain name. A custom email address looks something like this:

[email protected]

A custom email not only bolsters your professional image but also enhances brand recognition – making your business correspondence more credible to customers and clients. To own a custom email address, an email hosting service is needed.

What is an Email Hosting?

Email hosting refers to a service provided by hosting companies that rent out and maintain a server dedicated to storing your business's emails. Unlike free email services, a professional email hosting solution offers you greater control, flexibility, and customization over your email system, allowing you to create domain-specific emails (like [email protected]).

You can host your email with most shared hosting providers. For example, in the following screenshot, I show how you can create a new email account and configure it in your local email client.

Hostinger email control dashboard
Hostinger email hosting configuration dashboard. To access this page, log in to your Hostinger account, go to Hosting Dashboard > Emails > Email Accounts. Your email configuration info such as incoming and ongoing mail hostname, MX records, and email port info are shown on this page. You can also create, delete, or edit email accounts on the same page.

Three Ways to Host Your Business Emails

Bundled (Email + Website) Hosting

Bundled email hosting is when you get email hosting that comes along with (hence the term ‘bundled’) your web hosting account. Depending on your needs, this can turn out to be very helpful since you won’t need to manage your emails on a separate account or pay extra for email hosting.

However, bundled email hosting is often limited in space by the overall capacity of your web hosting account. Most bundles allocate a single amount of space that is shared between your email and web hosting. Aside from space, you are also sharing the amount of bandwidth allocated to your account.


  • Easy to setup
  • Cheap
  • Host multiple small email accounts at one price


  • Limited features and storage
  • Not for big enterprises

Dedicated Email Hosting

If you need email hosting for more accounts or are looking for enhanced email-related features, dedicated email hosting might be the solution for you. Dedicated email hosting doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have an entire mail server for your own use, but it means the account if focused on handling email only.

You will get a set amount of space and bandwidth for your account that is separate from your web hosting. Many dedicated email hosts also provide advanced features such as extra protection, automated smartphone synchronization and the like. The downside is that you will need to pay extra for your email as compared to a bundled plan.


  • Easy to setup
  • Advance features
  • Host multiple small email accounts at one price


  • Higher cost compare to Bundled option

Enterprise solutions (SaaS)

There are service providers such as Google and Microsoft that have email hosting solutions such as G Suite and Microsoft 365 Business. These are dedicated email services that are easy to use and powerful but need to be managed separately from your hosting even if they can use your custom domain name.

The downside of this is that the services may end up costing a fair bit as your staff counts increases. As an example, G Suite may only cost $5.40 for a basic plan, but that is the price to pay per user per month.


  • Easy to setup
  • Powerful features
  • Host multiple small email accounts at one price


  • Extra administrative work
  • Expensive – additional cost for extra email accounts.

Best Email Hosting Providers to Consider

Small businesses usually have more basic requirements when it comes to email hosting. In this scenario, I would highly recommend bundled email hosting since there are distinct advantages here for small businesses.

  • Price – The cost of email hosting is integrated into the bundle, so there is no additional overhead to consider. The price is ‘all-inclusive’ for web hosting, email, and any other features you can find that the hosting provider offers!
  • Ease of Use – In many cases, managing bundled email can be as simple as just adding in the email addresses you want. More complex things such as MX and SPF records can be referred to your hosting provider’s technical support staff. They will be happy to help you set things up.

Here are some of the best email hosting services for small businesses which I recommend.

Email HostServicesSignupRenewalMailboxStoragePOPIMAPSpam Protection
HostingerBundled or Dedicated $1.99/mo$3.99/mo110 GBYesYesCloudmark Protection
InMotion HostingBundled$2.49/mo$7.49/mo110 GBYesYesSpamExperts
TMD HostingBundled$2.99/mo$4.95/moUnlimitedUnlimitedYesYesSpamExperts
NameCheapBundled or Dedicated $1.98/mo$4.48/mo15 GBYesYesSpamExperts
InterserverBundled or Dedicated$2.50/mo$7.00/moUnlimitedUnlimitedYesYesOutlook Junk Email Filter
A2 HostingBundled or Dedicated $2.99/mo$11.99/moUnlimitedUnlimitedYesYesBarracuda

1. Hostinger

Hostinger business email starts at $0.99/mo
Hostinger Business Email, which includes email hosting service, starts at $0.99/mo for new users > click here to order.

Website: https://www.hostinger.com

Hostinger is based in Kaunas, Lithuania, and offers a huge variety of hosting plans. The best thing about their web hosting is that it comes with bundled email hosting as well. No matter if you sign up for their shared hosting plans or even VPS hosting, they’ve got your email hosting covered.

Services: Bundled and Dedicated Email Hosting.

Check out my Hostinger review.

Advantages of Hostinger's Email Hosting

  • Solid hosting performance with >99.98% uptime
  • Competitive pricing – Bundled email hosting starts at $0.99/mo
  • A+ grade in speed tests
  • In-house DNS management
  • Access emails via IMAP/POP/Webmail
  • Unlimited email accounts & forwarders
  • Cloudmark Email Protection

2. InMotion Hosting

InMotion - best email hosting with bundled features
You can setup, access, and manage your emails easily from InMotion Hosting Account Management Panel (AMP). This is a big plus for those who want a simple email hosting solution.

Website: https://www.inmotionhosting.com

Based in both Lost Angeles California, InMotion Hosting has been around for more than 15 years. The company has long been one of our favoured hosts for many reasons and even their shared web hosting comes with email features for free.

Services: Bundled Email Hosting.

Read my full InMotion Hosting review.

Why Choose InMotion to Host Your Emails

  • >99.95% server uptime record
  • SpamExperts professional spam filter
  • Configure and manage their emails without logging into cPanel
  • Access emails via IMAP/POP/Webmail
  • Unlimited email accounts & forwarders
  • Compatible with all desktop clients

3. TMD Hosting

TMD Shared Hosting (which comes with email hosting service) starts at $2.95/mo.

Website: https://www.tmdhosting.com

With a ten-year service record under its belt, TMDhosting has been a reliable partner for many website owners over the years. It has multiple data center locations clustered around the US plus one in the Netherlands. With prices starting from as low as $2.95 a month, this choice is certainly a bang for the buck if you consider they bundle email with their hosting plans.

Services: Bundled Email Hosting.

Check out our full TMD Hosting review.

Pros of TMD's Email Hosting Services

  • High-speed test and uptime score results
  • SpamExperts professional spam filter
  • Unlimited email accounts even with a most basic shared plan
  • Access emails via IMAP/POP/Webmail
  • Email filtering

4. NameCheap

NameCheap Private Email Hosting comes with Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and other easy-to-use tools.

Website: https://www.namecheap.com

Even among budget-oriented web hosts, NameCheap comes across as cheap (no pun intended). With shared hosting plans that kick off from as low as $1.58, even upon renewal they boast some of the lowest pricing in the industry. Besides hosting, NameCheap also offers other products like domain names and SSL certificates.

Aside from their considerably low-priced web hosting starter plans, Namecheap has a range of services that includes private email hosting. From as little as $0.74/mo you can get not just email hosting but also some space for file storage. Prices go up depending on how many mailboxes you need.

Services: Bundled and Dedicated Email Hosting.

Advantages of NameCheap's Email Hosting

  • 2FA authentication enabled
  • Antispam protection
  • File storage space allocated with all plans
  • Both webmail and POP access
  • Free 2-month trial

5. Interserver

Interserver private email hosting starts at $2.50/mo
Starts at $2.50/mo, you get unlimited email storage with spam and virus protection at Interserver private email hosting > click here to order.

Website: https://www.interserver.com

InterServer is based in New Jersey and has been around for more two decades now – an incredibly long lifespan for a web host. First introduced as a virtual hosting account re-seller it today covers almost the entire scope of the web hosting service spectrum.

Services: Bundled and Dedicated Email Hosting.

Learn more in my full InterServer review.

Email Hosting with InterServer sees:

  • Automatic virus scanner
  • Hosting uptime above 99.97%
  • Good billing practices with 99.9% uptime SLA
  • In-house malware database
  • They will clean up compromised, hacked or exploited accounts
  • Access emails via IMAP/POP/Webmail
  • Unlimited email accounts & forwarders
  • Email delivery guarantee

6. A2 Hosting

A2 Hosting - unlimited mailboxes starting at $2.99/mo
You can add unlimited mailboxes in any A2 Hosting plans, price starts at $2.99/mo

Website: https://www.a2hosting.com

We consider A2 Hosting as one of the top web hosts around and it has a good spread of data centre locations around the world – in Amsterdam, Singapore, Arizona and, of course, Michigan. It offers extremely powerful feature sets and combines that with a great customer experience at reasonable price points.

Services: Bundled and Dedicated Email Hosting.

Learn more in my A2 Hosting review.

Why host your emails at A2 Hosting:

  • Risk-free – Anytime money back guarantee
  • More than 99.98% availability
  • Barracuda Advanced Spam Filtering
  • Access emails via IMAP/POP/Webmail
  • Unlimited email accounts & forwarders
  • Unlimited email addresses with bundle plans

How to Choose an Email Hosting?

Many of the traits that a good web host has should also be present in a good email host. Among these traits, the top of your list should be reliability and flexibility. Other factors include:


As a business, your clients need to be able to have faith in the integrity of your business. They are entrusting you with information that is confidential, such as names, email addresses, and possibly even financial data. Securing your email is important and you should look out for integrated features such as data security, anti-malware, anti-spam, and the like in an email host.


We often check our email via various platforms that it can become easy to forget that each of them may require different configurations. When looking for an email hosting provider, ensure that you have access to webmail, POP, and IMAP.

Webmail allows you to use a web-based email client which is very convenient. IMAP allows you to read your email from any device without having to download them. POP on the other hand requires that you download your emails before reading them.


Having your IP address blacklisted is a sure way to see your business activities (especially client-related!) grind to a quick halt. This can be a major issue as once your IP gets blacklisted it takes time and effort to get it clean again. Avoid email hosts who have a reputation for having clients get on blacklists as you may end up with an IP that is recycled and already on a blacklist.

You can check an email host blacklist status using MX Toolbox.

Now that you have a list of the best email hosting providers, it's time to check out the setup process.

How to Setup Your Email Accounts in cPanel

There are two main types of control panel that hosting service providers mainly offer cPanel, which is Linux-based, and Plesk, which is Windows-based. Each of these has their own advantages and disadvantages but do not really affect your email hosting.

To set up an email account in cPanel:

1. Enter your email hosting management area

Setting up a simple email account in cPanel

Log in to your cPanel account and click on ‘Email Accounts’.

2. Click “Create” to begin

Setting up a simple email in cPanel

2.1) This area shows the list of email addresses already existing on your email hosting account. Each email address must be unique.

2.2) Click on ‘Create’ to begin configuring a new email address.

3. Input new email account details

Setting up a simple email in cPanel

3.1) Type in a unique name for the email address you are creating. Normally this is created to reflect either a personal company email such as [email protected] or as a representative of a business function such as [email protected].

3.2) This is the domain name that is associated with your email hosting. You will not need to change anything here.

3.3) Enter a new password to be associated with this email address.

I recommend that you follow strong password creation policies. This normally means a password should include a combination of upper and lowercase characters combined with digital and special characters. It would be better for each account to have a unique password rather than recycling the same one over and again.

Examples of strong passwords;

  • P455word!@
  • sTrongPa55word-
  • 1LoveMy-keyboard!

3.4) If you can’t think of a strong password or are unsure, click on the ‘Generate’ button and the system will randomize a strong password for you. Make sure you take note of it!

3.5) Here you can set the amount of storage space that is to be allocated to the email account. How much space you allocate will depend on how many accounts you need to set up and the space that is available. Remember that emails today often come with large attachments and running out of space may result in problems receiving new emails.

3.6) If you aren’t creating this email for yourself, click this option to send a welcome mail to the new user. Remember that this email gets sent to the account you are creating, so you will still need to provide the email address and password to the user directly via other means. The welcome mail can be helpful as a part of the onboarding process for new colleagues.

3.7) Once that’s all complete, hit the ‘Create’ button and you’re done!

How to Setup Your Emails in Plesk

Plesk is the Windows-based version of a web control panel and is just as simple as cPanel to use, if not more so. Remember, the type of control panel doesn’t really affect your email hosting and the difference is all in how the configuration is done.

1. Login to your email host

Setting up your custom email inbox with plesk

1.1) On the left navigation bar, click on ‘Mail’

1.2) The display pane on the right will then show the indicated screen. Click on ‘Create Email Address’ to start the configuration process.

2. Input new email account details

Setting up your custom email inbox with plesk

2.1) Enter a unique email address here. This name needs to be unique as the email system does not allow duplicate names on the same domain.

2.2) This is the domain that the email address will be hosted on. If you have only a single domain name, you will not need to change this. If you have more than one, then clicking it will show a list of domains you can choose from.

2.3) Enter a strong password here. This normally means a password should include a combination of upper and lowercase characters combined with digital and special characters. It would be better for each account to have a unique password rather than recycling the same one over and again.

Examples of strong passwords;

  • P455word!@
  • sTrongPa55word-
  • 1LoveMy-keyboard!

2.4) If you feel stumped or are still unsure what makes up a strong password, clicking ‘Generate’ will have the system make one up for you. Remember to take note of it.

2.5) Enter the same password again. This is just the system’s way of ensuring that you are remembering the password correctly or making you check it in case a typo was made.

2.6) You can choose to use the default space allocation for the mailbox size or to specify the limit. By default, Plesk allocated the maximum account-allowable space for that email address. The amount varies depending on what the email hosting provider sets it to.

2.7) Once you’ve entered all the necessary fields, click ‘Done’ and the email address will be ready. If you aren’t creating this email for yourself, remember to send the login details to the person you have created this email account for.

What is an MX Record?

Mail Exchange (MX) records are a type of DNS record. They indicate on record where emails sent to you will be routed. Unlike email addresses which must be created each time you want a new one, MX records only need to be set up once per domain.

There are two components of an MX record; Priority and Destination.

  • Priority – If you have more than one MX record, the priority allows you to set which will be given preference. A smaller number will indicate a higher priority. For example, if you have two MX records and one is set to Priority 10 and the other 20, the one with Priority 10 will be given precedence.
  • Destination – This is the user-friendly version of a working domain name. by user friendly I mean that it cannot be an IP address, but the name associated with that IP.

How to setup an MX Record in cPanel

1. Enter the Zone Editor

Setting up MX record of your custom email inbox in cPanel

1.1) Log in to cPanel and scroll till you reach the ‘Domains’ section. Click on ‘Zone Editor’.

2. Create a new MX Record

Setting up MX record of your custom email inbox in cPanel

2.1) The domain indicated here shows what valid domains you can create an MX Record for.

2.2) Click on ‘+MX Record’ to start the configuration process for a new MX Record.

3. Configure Priority and Destination of the MX Record

Setting up MX record of your custom email inbox in cPanel

3.1) Enter the Priority of the MX Record here. MX Record priorities are usually changed or allocated in factors of 5 or 10. For example, if you have only one MX Record you might allocate it as Priority 5.

3.2) Enter the Destination address. It is usual to label this as mail.yourdomain.com as indicative that it is an MX record for your mail server. Once you’re done click on ‘Add an MX Record’.

How to setup an MX Record in Plesk

1. Navigate to DNS settings

Setting up MX record of your custom email inbox in Plesk

1.1) On the left navigation pane, click on Websites & Domains. On the right viewing panel, scroll to the domain you want to create an MX Record for and click on ‘DNS Settings’.

2. Start a new MX Record

Setting up MX record of your custom email inbox in Plesk

2.1) On the right viewing pane, click on ‘Add Record’.

3. Configuring the MX Record

Setting up MX record of your custom email inbox in Plesk

3.1) This is a dropdown list of record types you can create. Click on it and select ‘MX’.

3.2) Enter the domain name you want to create for your mail server. It is in the format of mailserver.domainname.TLD

3.3) From the dropdown list, choose the priority to be given to this mail server. You will not need to configure this unless you have more than one MX Record. Once done, click ‘OK’ and your MX record will be done.

Samples of MX Records

MX record of WHSR email
Sample – MX record of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net.

It is important to remember that an MX Record must point to the friendly name of a mail server – not the IP address. Here are some examples of valid MX Records;

  • webmail.yourdomain.com
  • mail.yourdomain.com
  • mailserver.yourdomain.com

What is SPF Record?

A Sender Policy Framework (SPF) Record indicates which mail servers can be used to send email from your domain. They are normally defined in the DNS area of your web hosting account and are saved as TXT Records.

The SPF Record always with a ‘v=’ which is the SPF version in use. The most common would be ‘spf1’ and is almost universally accepted today. Everything that follows the ‘v=’ indicator is the rules that define the hosts allowed or not allowed to send email from your domain.

For example:

  • MX
  • ip4
  • exists
  • Added to those rules are modifiers;
  • redirect
  • exp

And definitions such as:

  • a
  • MX
  • ip4
  • ip6
  • exists

Then finally, we have the qualifiers which indicate how to handle a match:

  • + for pass
  • –  for fail
  • ~ for soft fail
  • ? for neutral

Sample of SPF Records

v=spf1 ip4:x.x.x.x include: spf.thirdparty.com ~all

Breakdown of the SPF Record:

  • v=spf1 indicates the SPF version
  • ip4:x.x.x.x allows the IP4 domain indicated to send email
  • include: spf.google.com is the list of authorized servers
  • ~all means that any server not included is explicitly not allowed to send ema

How to setup an SPF Record in cPanel

1. Access the DNS Editor

Configuring email SPF record in cPanel

1.1) Log in to your cPanel and click on ‘Zone Editor’ to enter the records management area.

2. Enter the extended management area

Configuring email SPF record in cPanel

2.1) In cPanel the main Zone Editor screen only gives you access to create or edit 3 record types; A, CNAME, and MX. To create a TXT record for SPF Record you will need to click on ‘Manage’ to enter the extended area.

3. Adding a TXT Record

Configuring email SPF record in cPanel

3.1) On the right side of the screen there will be a dropdown menu where you can select the type of record you want to create. Expand the list and select ‘Add TXT Record’.

Configuring email SPF record in cPanel

3.2) Under the ‘Record’ column you can type in / paste your definition for the SPF Record. Once done, click ‘Add Record’.

How to setup an SPF Record in Plesk

1. Access DNS Settings

Configuring email SPF record in Plesk

1.1) In the Plesk control panel, click on ‘Websites & Domains’ on the left navigation bar. On the right side viewing panel click on ‘DNS Settings’.

2. Adding a new record

Configuring email SPF record in Plesk

2.1) Once in the DNS Settings area, click on ‘Add Record’.

3. Building your SPF Record

Configuring email SPF record in Plesk

3.1. From the dropdown menu, select the TXT record type.

3.2. Enter your SPF Record definition here then click on ‘OK’. You’re done!

Final Thoughts: Is a Custom Hosted Email Necessary?

When I use the term business email hosting what I am really referring to is using a custom domain for your emails (ie. [email protected]). There are many reasons to do this ranging from professionalism to data security.

From a business perspective, the cost is not prohibitive, and the benefit far outweighs those costs.

1. Professionalism

Using a custom domain will let your customers know exactly who they are dealing with. Because the domain is owned and managed by you, it would be difficult for someone to misrepresent themselves as belonging to your company.

Let’s consider two scenarios where one company uses business email hosting while the other uses a free email service;

In the case of Company A, anyone can actually register for that email address so long as it is still available.

The Company B email however will be unique to you, the domain owner. Company B’s email address also reflects the professionalism and dedication to its business that the company has.

2. Data Security

By hosting your own business emails, you are in full control of how emails that are sent to you behave. For example, if you are in a business where there are certain regulations such as data localization, you may need to store your emails on servers in specific locations.

3. Support

Businesses today tend to communicate heavily via email. It is likely that some of those emails will include important information such as billing, invoicing, contracts, and the like. By using your own email hosting, you will be better equipped to deal with scenarios that would arise from email issues.

Lost or corrupted emails could severely impact your business and the support that comes along with business email hosting could prove invaluable.

Make the Right Email Hosting Choice

The creation of individual email accounts is relatively simple and if you follow the steps outlined here there should be no major issues. However, do remember that tech support is usually only an email away – which brings me to my final point.

Your choice of provider can help greatly in anything that you need to do with your hosting account. I’ve recommended a few which I highly recommend partially because of their excellent track record. Working with reliable hosting can reduce your stress levels, so assess your host wisely.

FAQs on Email Hosting

What is email hosting?

Email hosting refers to a service provided by hosting companies that rent out and maintain a server dedicated to storing your business's emails.

Is Gmail for Business free?

Gmail for Business is part of Google's G Suite. Unfortunately, G Suite isn't free, and working with it will cost monthly fees starting from $6/mo/user. There is a 14-day free trial evaluation period.

Where should I host my email?

Most web service providers do offer email hosting and it comes as a standard with many web hosting packages. Alternatively, you can also consider buying a domain name and integrating that with an email service like Gmail.

Which free email is best for business?

Unless you're using a custom domain with the service, most free email providers will require that you use their domains. This isn't great for business branding.

What is the best email host for small businesses?

For smaller businesses, Hostinger offers great value for money with low overhead, starting from as little as $0.99/mo.

How do I set up an email account?

Email account setups are usually done in your web hosting control panel. In most cases, setting up an email account is as simple as creating the username in the email control panel, then setting up limitations on account size.

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Article by Jerry Low

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