I made the switch to using gmail through a web browser exclusively almost five years ago, and I’ve never looked back. For a brief period of time I was forced to use Outlook for calendaring only at a company that was still tied to Exchange, and I resented it every time I had to open it. Since it became available I’ve also been using Google Apps for my family domain and multiple company domains. If you are in a startup there is no reason for you to be stuck with legacy technology and self-hosted email. You can be up in running in under an hour. So if you aren’t already using it here is a list of just a few reasons why you need to be;
You shouldn’t be spending money on anything that you don’t absolutely have to. That includes email hosting! Are you generating your own electricity? Writing your own development tools? And yes, it is still free for most purposes. The page tries to hide that fact now by emphasizing a big button for the paid version, but what you want is the standard version which is free for up to 200 (!) users. (If you have email to move see my note below.)
You shouldn’t be spending any time on anything that isn’t core to your business either! Unless your business is running mail servers (and if it is, sorry brother your days are numbered) you have no business being busy administering a mail server, and your IT folk should be working on things that add value to your customers.
Hosting of email from places that throw it in with your web site hosting typically sucks. It is awkward to administer, web mail if they have it is inferior, and the spam filtering? Forget about it.
Move to Google, say bye to spam. I went from nearly a thousand a day to a dozen a week. And that’s with multiple publicly available email addresses pointing to me. I’ll take it.
Recent improvements make it much simpler to manage multiple email addresses from a single login. After many years they finally got rid of the darned “on behalf of” headers that used to show up for Outlook users.
Dump Outlook. For reasons known only to the Office team Outlook continues to be a huge resource pig. Lots of threads, lots of memory, mysterious CPU load. Offload all that to a server and get back the resources better used for development tools, design tools, etc.
Stop the interrupt driven day. In case you didn’t get the memo: you can’t multi-task. Getting little pop-up messages when an email arrived was cool, about 10 years ago. Today it is a disaster. Turn off notifications of email arrival on your desktop, turn them off on your phone. Only check mail at fixed intervals. No wonder you aren’t getting anything done!
Don’t be tied to one computer. Or worse, don’t be trying to keep multiple copies of Outlook or any other email/calendar client in synch. Don’t ever hook your phone up to synch. With your mail and your calendar ‘in the cloud’ life is greatly simplified. Suddenly every computer in the world that is connected to the internet is a place you could potentially handle email.
The best back-end for mail and calendaring for your mobile phone. Period. If you use a phone that supports sync properly (just get an iPhone already) new calendar items appear on your phone or in the cloud within seconds of being created from the phone or in the browser.
Multiple calendars will save your sanity. Create calendars that are shared between team members (or between family members!). I have my calendar, my wife’s, shared company events, shared family events and ‘info’ (notes about people being on vacation etc.). I can see everything that is going on at a glance and avoid schedule conflicts.
Update: Unfortunately Google stopped providing the free tier. Free accounts are grandfathered in but if you’re reading this today the math needs more thought than when this was written.