ComTech: IT Support Stirling

Do you know which email account you have?

Emails.  We all use them and many businesses would be completely stuck if they lost them and that is exactly what happened to a client I dealt with recently.

I had a call from a client who sounded very frantic on the phone. Their main PC for the business had just died and they were worried about recovering their data so I went across to take a look.  On arrival on site it became apparent that indeed they had backups for their data on an external drive and the most they would lose was two days.  The emails though were a different matter.

The client didn’t know the difference between POP, Imap or Exchange accounts and thought the email hosting company would be doing backups of his entire account so he didn’t have to.  The main email account was a POP3 account which had quite happily pulled all his emails off the server for the last 3 years until the hard drive died.  Since there was no backup the emails have gone.

The are some main differences between the account types which would could have helpt the client had he known.  POP3 by default will pull all the emails off the server onto the local machine.  You can configure the account to leave the emails on the server for a set period if needs be but you are better using Imap for this.  If your email account is POP3 YOU MUST BACK UP THE EMAILS ON THE SYSTEM and I generally recommend backing your emails to something like Dropbox so they are stored off site.

Imap keeps the emails on the server to which you have access. This makes Imap a good choice when you have multiple devices which need access to the full set of emails in the account.  You can also configure Imap to store a copy of all emails on the local device which means your emails are then in two places (system and hosting server) taking care of backups.

Exchange basically takes Imap a step further with all your emails, contacts and calender backed up on the server. You can also cache a local copy of all your emails too.  Exchange also allows shared calenders between workers which is a very handy feature.

Personally I would go with either Imap or Exchange everytime for your emails as the backup features are a no brainer when running a business.

As for the client they have sent their hard drive off to a data recovery firm but the prognosis is not good.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Cisco, Windows, OS X and Linux based IT Support to small businesses throughout Scotland.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter


So what exactly are the benefits of switching to Office 365 then?

These were the words used by a potential new client last week during a meeting.  The client has 5 PC’s running Windows 7 with no backup structure in place.  They are also running Office 2003 which they are looking to upgrade.  The owner had read somewhere that Office 365 backed up everything for a small monthly cost and was interested in my opinion.  This is what I told him:

1. Lets take emails first.  With an Office 365 subscription you are getting Exchange which means that you can have shared calenders and Outlook Web App which gives you access to your email folder structure from anywhere. Your contacts and calendar are also shared between your devices.  With Office 365 Microsoft also guarantee 99.99% uptime (please correct me if I have missed off any 9’s) meaning your emails “should” never go down.

2. Office Suite.  If you plump for a small business package at £8.40 per user per month you also get full copies of Office 2013 which each user can use on 5 devices. If you already use Office in your workplace then this might be of interest.  If though you are like me and use opensource software like Libreoffice and Thunderbird (or even Evolution) this will be less of an attractive option.

3. Online storage.  Office 365 gives you £25 GB of online storage per user through Skydrive Pro (about to become OneDrive for Business).  I don’t like SkyDrive Pro as it is basically SharePoint of which I am not a big fan.  Additionally I don’t like the idea of all the company files not being in a central store.  With Office 365 all user files are stored in the users SkyDrive Pro account and not a central company account.  If the users are primarily office based then I would tend to advise something like SkyDrive (not Pro) or Dropbox on a central server which shares files across a network.  This way all the files are in one central store (along with being backed up online) and upper management can access them if required.  I have only used the small business subscriptions so if this is different with the Enterprise packages then I apologise.

4. Overall cost.  Personally I think the smaller the business the more attractive Office 365 subscriptions are.  If you are part of a large organisation with 100’s of employees the costs would be staggering.  For a small business (say less than 10 employees) for only £3.30 per user per month you get the full capabilities of Exchange Server for your emails without having to purchase and maintaining Windows Server 2012 R2 and Exchange 2013.  This in itself is justification for purchasing a subscription.

So to wrap up I think that Office 365 is a really good platform for your emails but it does depend on the size of your business.  The bigger the business the higher the costs.

The client is still trying to make up his mind.

About the Author


Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter






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