OT: Internet Hosting recommendations.

As I know some here are involved in things IT-technical and I'm looking for general advice / recommendations that has technical content, I thought I'd ask here.
I have been asked by a friend if I could recommend an alternative Internet host because of connection / email reliability with his existing one. He is saying they lose email connectivity maybe once every couple of months and for varying periods).
We are just talking a static web page plus maybe 20 email accounts, mostly POP/SMTP to workstations plus IMAP access on phones. Again, in case it affects anything they run Outlook 2013 and although they wanted some group / shared calendaring, I'm not sure they have it and just send email notifications or something.
FWIW the existing Co seemed to have their own email system but now you get an Outlook / Office 365 type interface so I wonder if they are outsourcing their mail to MS?
I have just tried to login to their control panel and it still seems to be down (from 8 or so this morning).
So, does anyone have any practical experience of a Co who could host his website and provide reliable email services and that is likely to still be around next year?
I guess I'm asking more of those he should avoid, rather than those he could go to as the expectation would that they would all be reasonably reliable and offer the same quality of service (but we know that isn't the case).
FWIW I think daughter uses 1&1 and has found them ok so far but then isn't pushing quite a few emails though them every day. Similarly I've had no real issues with my VM or Spaced accounts and said mate hasn't had any real issues with his private Yahoo mail.
So, if his current provider is actually hosting his emails on MS servers, could he simply cut out the middle man and go to MS directly (for web hosting and emails)?
Therefore, the question was really to get a feel of what is to be expected (reliability wise) out there and if anyone could personally recommend any particular host and why please?
Cheers, T i m
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I have the same problem with my BT mail. But everything else is OK. The actual broadband way more reliable than the several ISPs I've had previously. Which makes me cautious about moving.
I don't much use my BT mail address having already got my own pop box at 123 reg, so am now considering getting an alternate SMTP server to the BT one. Which I'd guess I'll have to pay extra for.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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On Fri, 03 Feb 2017 12:58:09 +0000 (GMT), "Dave Plowman (News)"

Funny you should say that. So, how reliable has the 123-reg email been for you? I mean would you notice if it was down for say 15 minutes on any day?

Like you I typically use the SMTP server of my ISP but I think you can also use others servers for outgoing mail.
Cheers, T i m
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When this computer is on. it does an auto fetch every 30 minutes. If anything is up with any of the email facilities, I get an error message.
And oddly, 123 reg was down today. But was back by about 12.45. It's far more likely to be BT here.

Yes. I've just found out I can use the 123-reg one.
With the email client I use, you can have several pop boxes. It visits them all in turn - and gives an error message if any is down. I'm not sure if it can try one SMTP server then use an alternative if the first doesn't work.

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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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On 03/02/2017 12:58, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Who are they using at present? I notice 123 was belly up this morning.
You might find the thread in demon.service about hosting choices
of interest. TsoHosts seems to have some recommendations there.
Voodofone have been annoying loyal Demon customers for a couple of years now and most original Demonites have left but for the moment retain their subdomains but with other hosting and other email services via Namesco. There is a new gotcha coming down the line at the end of the month since "improvements" are being made to increase profitability.

Odd. The local loop shouldn't be more reliable with BT than with anyone else (unless you mean TalkTalk who I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy).

If you have 123-reg email you already have access to their free email server but it doesn't support any kind of encryption at all. Usable as a backup but not entirely satisfactory for longer term use.
Takeovers and mergers mean we live in interest times (Chinese usage).
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I did end up with Talktalk after a number of takeovers or mergers. All the many outages I had seemed to be at the exchange end or further up the chain. My local end - including my phone - were OK.

Must admit I don't tend to use email to send anything critical.

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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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On Fri, 3 Feb 2017 14:40:36 +0000, Martin Brown

Bingo. ;-)

<snip>
Thanks for that Martin. I guess unless you were a big / long term user of any particular service (or product) it can be pretty difficult to get a detailed picture. Like, my VM service drops out now and again meaning I can't get access to the WWW or new or email but not regularly or for long enough for me to look for an alternative (although with the recent price hike I might at least give them a call).
And as you say, it only take a change of equipment, management or ownership at their end for it all to be up in the air again.
Cheers, T i m
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On 03/02/2017 12:58, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

If you have a pop mailbox at 123 then you can use their SMTP server to send as well. (connect to smtp.123.reg.co.uk and login with the same details you use for incoming mail)
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On 03/02/2017 12:28, T i m wrote:

If you want to share a mailbox between phone and desktop, you ideally need to use IMAP for both.

To do the snazzy shared calendaring etc needs and Exchange mailbox. That used to mean running your own exchange server, but these days you can get it all in the cloud.

Could be. Some of the office 365 packages include a 50GB exchange mailbox as well.

Do they need exchange mailboxes? If so then most companies just resell the MS hosting option.

Probably no cheaper to do.

I have lots of domains with 123-reg, but would not recommend them for email hosting (or much else) - they seem rather too error prone. The stuff I have hosted with Rackspace is rock solid and well supported generally, but its not a budget option (although their mailboxes are cheaper than their office 365 mailboxes).
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On Fri, 3 Feb 2017 15:19:55 +0000, John Rumm

They may well be set that way already John as many variations were tried in the beginning to get Calendaring to work.

So I think we learned at the beginning.

Yup and out of the question for them at the beginning (especially).

And that was why I mentioned the need in case it had an impact on any potential alternative solution. So, do we just look for a host who offers 'Exchange' servers?

In this case (via 123-reg) I think they only get 5GB / user.

Only in the calendaring function AFAIK John. We looked at alternatives but because most of their customers ruin Outlook / Exchange it we felt it was ether that or nothing (so they deal with calendaring vie emails somehow).

I don't think that would be so much an issue as having something more reliable. Even their customers are commenting on how often their emails are down and it's getting embarrassing (to the point he's willing to jump ship assuming any (reasonably well researched) alternatives couldn't be any worse)?

Thanks for that feedback John. More fuel for the fire. ;-)

Well, we would be guided by anyone who has practical workaday experience in this field and would consider the cost only as a last stage. It is potentially costing him lots of money (lost sales) with his current solution and so something more expensive but more reliable could still be a cost saving. ;-)
So, the 'big question' would be 'how much better' would the group calendaring option be if they went to exchange mailboxes over what they are doing atm (which I think was a 'well, we can do it this way and it sort of works so let's try it like that' and never changed)?
Cheers, T i m
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On 03/02/2017 15:53, T i m wrote:

Office 365 (even if you just go for the email and access to the online version of office only (i.e. no local license for desktop/laptops etc) is usually the easiest way to get that...

That sounds like their normal "personal" email mail box.

One option is online calendaring (google, apple etc) - then that separates that off from the email solution and gives you more choice there.

I had a similar situation with some customers a few years back. They were using 123-reg for domain registration and email. The email bit of the setup was too flaky. Partly down to them not coping with large mailboxes while at the time not actually imposing any hard limit on mailbox size. The mailbox would reach about 10+ gig and then the systems could not cope - you just got timeouts whenever trying to access a mailbox - even via web mail. That was when we went to rackspace - however its quite a jump in cost approx £1.50 month per mailbox, rather than a bundle of tens of them included in the domain registration and a basic hosting package. (123-reg have improved matters now and actually police the mailbox size, so those issues don't occur)
I still use 123-reg for domain hosting, and they are ok at that. They let you do most things you might want to do with DNS etc relatively easily (although if you need something a bit unusual you can meet a brick wall). They also have a very flexible system for creating mail forwards, and splitting mail to multiple recipients, something that you can do without needing to attach a mailbox to an address (something you can't do with the MS offering). So you can do stuff like create a public visible address snipped-for-privacy@domain.com and have that forward to a group of other addresses (which may also be forwards) quite easily.

Indeed - for business use the cost is often secondary.

Not knowing how good what they have at the moment is, its hard to say!
Something like google calendar can work well, can be shared, works on the web and on phones etc.
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Wonder how many domestic users would get anywhere near 10+ gig in their mailbox without downloading it?
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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The habit of many users nowadays is to leave everything on the server (and perforce in their inbox if they use an email program) and just let it accumulate for years on end. And, quite often, they are only aware of Outlook for work email and webmail for personal email, as though this were a legal requirement. Unless they need to explicitly download an 'attachment' of an obscure sort they will view or read attachments in their web browser and leave them on the server too.
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Quite. When we migrated from AllInOne mail to Lotus Notes some years ago, one user had 26,000 emails in her Inbox. After multiple failed attempts to migrate them, we told her we couldn't and she just shrugged and said "Oh, well". The bitch didn't even *need* the damn things.
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I do think that it is unfair to blame users when they do things, no matter how dysfunctional, that you have *let* them do.
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[24 lines snipped]

Well, I agree with your intent, but would just like to point out that neither system was chosen, configured or operated by me.
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On 04/02/2017 13:46, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

If you are using IMAP[1] then all the mail is left on the server, so its not uncommon for users to rack up loads of stored crap. (and if they are organised enough to put/auto filter it into folders below the inbox, it can create the illusion of order and store even more cruft)
[1] and if you want to share a mailbox between multiple platforms and also allow web mail access, then it makes sense to use IMAP.
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OTOH, if you organise your email into directories *not* below your inbox, which exist in a real filesystem and are backed up locally and stored properly off-site as duplicate backups then *you* are taking responsibility for your stored email which is then removed from the ISP's server. And you are responsible for your own data rather than trusting it to a bunch of possibly American capitalists who have little long term interest in keeping it intact for you.

If you really want to share your old emails between devices you can use your own server.
--

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On 04/02/2017 19:04, Roger Hayter wrote:

True, but if you take it off the server and keep it locally, then the mail won't be accessible on your other devices.
Note also that clients like Thunderbird will mirror all of an IMAP directory structure locally anyway.

Seems like a bit of a jump in complexity!
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On Sat, 4 Feb 2017 12:25:18 +0000, John Rumm

So that's £3.80 / user / month in 50GB email storage and with 'full' Outlook / calendaring.
One thing I'm not sure about though is would they still be able to be snipped-for-privacy@theirdomain.com if using Office365? Is it that they get a new domain and the mails get massaged to reflect their own domain info? I think we did play with Office365 at the beginning (it was a newish thing) but didn't get anywhere (with the calendaring extension) bit particularly.

Check. I think they did look at the next offering up but there was still a question re supporting Outlook calendaring (but it was a while ago now).

True, but potentially adds another layer of complication / passwords etc and for these people it really wants to be KISS (even if it costs a bit more). ;-)

<snip>

Ok. Not a good failure mode.

Ok. Are they just 'basic' mailboxes John or would they support Outlook / calendaring?

So far their website has been little more than a static / template holding page, just to provide *something* showing a web presence. In fact I've already ftp'd it to my PC in case they decide to host it elsewhere (assuming that is all there is to it).

Hmmm. Whilst I don't think they use any of that there is a possibility they could (like the boss getting copies of generic 'sales@' emails as you suggest).

<snip> >> Well, we would be guided by anyone who has practical workaday

Within reason. ;-)

No quite, and never having used anything like that myself am not really a good judge either. I think the idea with Outlook / Calendaring is that you can send an appointment request and that can be 'allowed' to update the calendar (or not etc). I think what they do is use some of it but just email it to one person in the office who manually updates a shared calendar (or something)? Now they are used to doing it that way I'm wondering how much value there is in making it more complete / automated?

I think it would need to be something that was integrated with Outlook or they would stay as they are (but hosted elsewhere).
It's also possible they could have a mix (with some 'dumb' mailboxes) as they do have some that are used as basic enquiry / service etc.
ATM I'm really on a reconnaissance mission for them to see if they can get something that is more reliable (and with a sort of automatic 'go ahead') but without costing lots more if possible. 'Some more' would be ok. ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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