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Hosted Exchange: Features and Benefits

Microsoft Exchange is an email server and business collaboration solution. Its email features include the ability to create, manage, and back up mailboxes, as well as create and manage users, aliases, and user groups. It also has built-in archiving, spam filtering, and antimalware features. Its business collaboration features include shared inboxes, calendars, address books, and task lists.

A Centralized, Professional Email System

Exchange is one of the best solutions out there for setting up and maintaining a professional email system for your business. It lets you manage all of your email users and mailboxes from a single management console. In addition to using this console to create and manage mailboxes, you can also use to create email groups, set permissions, set retention policies, create public folders, manage mobile devices, and configure and manage your email servers.

Exchange makes it easier to set up and manage your company’s email system. It also increases the security of your emails—and, by extension, the security of your business—with its permissions, spam filtering, and antimalware features. Exchange also makes it easier for businesses to archive and retain their emails in order to comply with their own recordkeeping policies or with regulations that require them to retain some or all of their records for a certain number of years.

Access Your Emails from Anywhere with Any Device

Exchange mailboxes can be accessed from a variety of different email clients (which are applications that you use to send, receive, and read emails), though you’ll only be able to access the more advanced email and business collaboration features if you access it from Microsoft Outlook, the email client that’s included with most versions of Windows.

Other recommended ways to access your Exchange account include the Outlook Web App, a slightly stripped-down version of Outlook that you access via a web browser, and the iOS and Android versions of Outlook.

When set up for remote access, it allows your employees to access their email and calendars from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Its anywhere-accessibility also means that companies with multiple offices and/or telecommuting can use Exchange as their single, centralized email system for their entire business—so they won’t have to set up and maintain an Exchange server at each location.

How to Deploy Exchange—Onsite or Hosted

To deploy Exchange onsite, you install it on a server that has a compatible version of Windows Server installed on it. Exchange 2016 requires a 64-bit server with at least 8 GB RAM and at least 32 GB of storage running Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2.

To sign up for a hosted version of Exchange, which is a version of Exchange that you rent from a hosting company for a monthly fee and access via the Internet, you just need to get in touch with an IT hosting company and request that they deploy it for you. The hosting company will take care of procuring and setting up the server and installing and configuring the Exchange software for you. It may also assist you in transferring over any data from an existing onsite version of Exchange (including all of your emails, users, groups, contacts, permissions, and calendar data) to the hosted version on their servers.

Benefits of Hosted Exchange

The main advantages of signing up for hosted Exchange instead of deploying Exchange onsite include:

Lower costs. The cost of hosted Exchange tends to be less than that of an onsite Exchange deployment. Reasons for this include hosting companies being able to host several virtual Exchange servers on a single physical server; because a single admin can monitor, maintain, and support many different hosted Exchange deployments at once (so the admin-per-Exchange deployment ratio is much smaller for hosting companies than businesses with one-to-one admin-to-deployment ratios); and because hosting companies can get bulk discounts on resources such as power, real estate, Internet bandwidth, IT hardware, and software licenses.

Less hassles. With hosted Exchange, you don’t have to worry about purchasing and maintaining any additional physical servers or installing and setting up Exchange. In addition, if you sign up for some form of managed Exchange hosting, in which the hosting provider manages, maintains, and supports your hosted Exchange deployment for you, then you won’t have to worry about monitoring, protecting, updating, backing up, or supporting it yourself.

Increased security. Hosted versions of Exchange tend to be more secure than onsite versions because hosting companies can afford to implement the most advanced security measures and hire the most advanced security personnel.

Regulatory compliance. It can be easier to comply with IT regulations such as HIPAA and SOX with hosted Exchange than it is with an onsite version. This is mainly because hosted Exchange is more secure (see above), and because hosting companies can afford to implement the most advanced data loss prevention measures, including backing up each file to several different offsite datacenters. Many hosting providers can also host your Exchange deployment on a private (or dedicated) physical server, if regulations prevent you from hosting it on a shared server.