When you host a website with us, one of the first things we do is connect it to an Email Service Provider (ESP), which we use to send both marketing and transactional email.
Notably, your website does not use your server to send email. If you’re coming from a cPanel host or some other common host, this might seem strange. But there are actually some really good reasons to do things this way.
Here’s the thing. Email is an established, pervasive, well-documented technology that’s very easy to install. But despite all of that, it’s incredibly difficult to get right.
Email was created in the 1960s, which makes it insanely old in internet years. A few revisions, a bunch of different email protocols, countless email systems, and more than half a century later, email has become a veritable multi-tentacled monster.
Here are just a few of the reasons we don’t install email servers on our machines:
- Email is inherently insecure. It just wasn’t designed to be. If you want secure email, a run-of-the-mill email server just won’t cut it. A lot of effort and expertise goes into making email secure, and even then it’s a constant battle. Your website’s server is optimized for making your website secure, not your email.
- When your website sends email, you probably expect it to reach its destination. The single most important factor contributing to successful delivery of business email is reputation, which requires a healthy email delivery infrastructure. That kind of infrastructure is complex, needs constant maintenance, and relies on a lot of systems cooperating with each other in just the right way. Maintaining reputation is almost a business onto itself.
- Just about every reputable email system uses blacklists to filter out dangerous and annoying email. If enough of the emails you send are determined to be dangerous or spammy, your email, server, IP, or domain could be put on any of the big blacklists. That basically means that anything you send afterwards, innocent as it might be, could find its way to your recipient’s spam mailbox. That alone is reason enough to put your email server on a different machine from your web server.
- We don’t put the email server on the same machine as the web server for another reason. If your web server goes down, whether because something went wrong, or because we’re updating software, or for any other reason, it could bring down everything. Email shouldn’t be susceptible to that kind of interruption. If your web server goes down, email should continue to flow.
These are just a few of the reasons we don’t use, or even allow, email servers on our web hosting machines. And instead of wasting time and money reinventing the wheel, we rely on high-quality Email Service Providers that solve these issues for us.
ESPs have a whole ton of advantages:
- They are more secure, reliable, and reputable than any email server we would install.
- They are isolated, so they can run on their own fine-tuned infrastructure unaffected by anything that might happen to your web server. You and your customers won’t lose email if your site goes down.
- They can provide delivery guarantees that are orders of magnitude better than what we could provide.
- They are faster. That might not be very important on a small website but if you have hundreds or thousands of users, regularly send out newsletters and marketing campaigns, that speed could really make a difference.
- They put some powerful tools that help manage your email list, marketing campaigns, reputation, and more at your fingertips.
Email Service Providers are vital for the proper operation of a modern website. They are far better at email than any random email server can be and make your hosting far more affordable and reliable as a result.