Yahoo Hosting Review: An Editor Dares To Follow His Own Advice

The good news is that he was right, and two small business domains are now served by Yahoo E-mail and Web hosting.

John Dickinson, Contributor

May 5, 2005

4 Min Read

Taking your own advice can sometimes be a painful thing, but sometimes it's not only the right thing to do, it's a real pleasure. Some time ago I asked why people bother to maintain their own e-mail servers (see Why Have An E-Mail Server?), and made a special point that small businesses should certainly consider outside services.

In particular, I suggested that small businesses look into Yahoo! Mail's extensive line of small business services because the company seemed to have the best lineup of desktop and groupware products. And my own experience with a Yahoo! Mail account had showed me that they just about surely have the best spam blocker on the planet.

Well, as an at-home freelance writer I am a very small business, and as an at-home interior designer, so is my wife. For years, starting about the time DSL first became available for home office use, and long before Yahoo! realized the potential for expanding their web-based mail services, we had our DSL services and our domains and e-mail services serviced by another provider, who shall herein remain nameless.

The march of time brought many changes, and the two big ones were spam and money. As we added cool things to my wife's designer web site (gotta be trendy in that business, you know), our costs just kept going up. Then of course there was spam--that provider's filters were not only inadequate, their interface for extracting false positives from a web-hosted spam bucket was the messaging technology equivalent of do-it-yourself root canal surgery.

Resisting Change

Then of course, there was the sloth factor. I just kept "not getting around to it" until one day I did the calculation and realized that the cost savings of moving from the other guys to Yahoo! were quite large. Enough, in fact, to buy my wood shop a new table saw in just one year.

So, one Sunday afternoon I just sat down and did the deed. We had two situations. In my case, I wanted a new domain, but my wife wanted to hold on to hers, which Yahoo! can do, but there is some latency while the name is moved and DNS servers across the Internet are updated.

The new domain gave me an opportunity to do some prototyping, and make sure that my suggestion was even close to right. Success came quickly, and I set up mail forwarding from old e-mail addresses to new ones, as well as automatic responses that would tell senders about the change.

The only odd thing, and this provided a day or two of confusion overall, is that for each e-mail account you set up in your Yahoo!-hosted domain, you must set up a companion Yahoo! Mail account. It's a nice feature because that's how you can get to your mail from any web browser, but its implementation is not especially clear or well-documented. That did give me a chance to try out Yahoo!'s tech support, which turns out to be responsive and helpful, and once you "get it" it isn't so confusing after all.

Then I set out to move my wife's domain, which proved to be easier and quicker than I could have imagined. By the time I returned from a meeting on Sunday night, the domain had been moved, and all I had to do was upload a copy of her web site to its new location.

Ahhhhh . . . . Yes!

And, so what's it been like? Much less spam and virus traffic comes out way, much less money goes out to an ISP. Each domain hosting setup costs $11.95 per month, for a total of $23.90, versus some $90 a month we were paying with the other guys.

You get a lot for your money, too. 2GB of web storage is plenty for most small businesses, and if not, it's easy to upgrade from the Starter leve, which we have, to the Standard or the Professional level, none of which cost as much as I was paying the other guys. Even at the entry level you get 25 e-mailboxes. That's certainly enough for any home-based and most small office businesses that I know about, even this one where I hog a bunch of mail boxes, each with a different purpose.

And the e-mail services are just fine, thank you. So are the hosting services, which are easy to use. The web-building tools look pretty easy, although I've only taken advantage of some rudimentary ones. My wife has a professional web designer to make her site do what it has to do. But I'll get into web site building next time I get energetic on a Sunday afternoon.

And are we happy? You bet! I can't tell you that we'd be really any more or less happy if we'd switched to MSN instead of Yahoo!, but for sure this is worlds better, and a whole lot cheaper than what we were doing.

John Dickinson is editor of Messaging Pipeline.

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