During my time at PBI I got spoiled by the use of Microsoft Exchange for my email. PBI has a traditional hardware based server solution.
Well, for the past few months I have been using my new email address without Exchange, with the intention of going cloud based when I moved all of Freedman Consulting’s domain names and websites to the same host. Well that day has come. And thank goodness.
The process was pretty straight forward. Most hosts these days offer cloud-based Exchange. It normally costs about $7 a month for each account. If you plan on staying with your host and just want to implement exchange server, you will have a quick time of it.
The first step, if you don’t already have one, is to get yourself a domain name, host and email address. If you don’t have these things, what are you waiting for? Read my article on the importance of branding you silly person!
If you do have these items you can skip right to Turn on Exchange.
Find a Host
I was using GoDaddy. I had a miserable experience and was frequently on the phone with tech support for two reasons: 1. my blog and website were constantly timing out and 2. I couldn’t get email from the PBA Solo and Small Firm Listserv. So go away Go Daddy and hello 1and1.
Freedman Consulting needs a pretty robust hosting package so I decided to go with a dedicated server. We are going to be selling webinars and written materials (more on that later.) Most law firms won’t need something quite so robust. You are probably looking at about $20 or so a month for a hosting package that will work for you.
Register a Domain Name
If you don’t already have a domain name, you need to register one.
Pick a Good Name
Pick a name that is easy to remember and relates to you as a brand or your firm as a brand. For example, before I officially joined Ellen, my domain name was jlellis.net. That stands for Jennifer L Ellis.
It is best to get .com if you can. Go for .net second. Keep the name as short as you can and don’t use any punctuation like dashes unless you absolutely must. People need to be able to remain and quickly type your domain name. My new domain name with Ellen is freedmanlpm.com.
Unhappy with your Current Host? Time to Transfer
If you already have a domain name and are unhappy with your host or your host doesn’t provide cloud based Exchange, well this is a good time to change hosts. You can transfer your domain name relatively easily. Check with both your current and new provider on how to do this.
Pick an Email Address
Most hosting packages include a couple of free email addresses. If not, change your hosting package so you can set up an email address. Normally your email address will be yourfirstname@domain name. Hence, my email address was email@example.com. Some people like to use last name first initial. Whatever works for you.
Most sites make it very easy to create an email address. Whatever the process is, complete it.
Turn on Exchange
Now you need to buy and set up your Exchange accounts. Buy however many you need. 1and1, for some reason, required me to buy one at a time. Once you buy the account(s), go through the set up process required by your host and set it to your email address.
It normally takes a while for the exchange server to be set up. It took 1and1 about 12 hours, give or take. All I know is I started the process around 6pm and when I tried to set it up at 8:00 am it was ready.
Back up Outlook
Make sure you back up EVERYTHING before you begin the process of setting up exchange server on your computer. Directions are available on Microsoft’s Website.
If you do not backup Outlook before you set up exchange server, you will lose everything. Please don’t blame me. I told you to back it up first.
Set up Exchange on Your Computer(s) and/or Phone
Did you back everything up yet? Your emails? Calendars? Contacts? Tasks? No? Back it up first.
Backed up? Ok, proceed.
The process for setting up Exchange on your computer is pretty straight forward. Some hosts actually help by providing a .exe file that does everything for you. You simply need to follow the instructions provided by your host.If you have trouble your host should be able to help. Give it a call.
The instructions for your phone might be different, so be sure to look or ask your host.
Restore Your Back Up
Now, since you backed up everything, you can restore it. If you have Office 2007 or 2010 you need to do the following:
Now everything is restored and everything, including your old emails, folders, calendar entries, etc etc, will sync together for you. You will need to recreate any rules you had set up.
You might be wondering why I bothered with all this and why Ellen and I are willing to spend $7 a month per account to have Exchange. There are three basic reasons.
First Exchange syncs very easily. I can view my emails, calendar and contacts anywhere. I don’t have to worry about IMAP which tends to be a bit slow and inconsistent. I also don’t have to worry about a go-between of some kind for my phone. Previously I had to use various pieces of software on each computer to keep everything synced everywhere. I couldn’t keep my contacts well synced at all because Android phones simply don’t play well with Outlook if it is not running on Exchange. My calendar had to go through Google instead of staying just on Outlook. Now I don’t have to worry about that any more.
Second, now Ellen and I can share our contacts and calendars very easily. I can look at her calendar before I propose times to meet. I can also more easily share tasks and other information with her. In short, for two people who work in separate offices, exchange server is a dream come true.
Third, I have a built in back-up. My email is on both my computers and on the server. So are all my contacts, which are also on my phone. I feel more secure knowing everything is safe. I still back up my computer by the way. I just have more locations now. Since email is my main method of communication, loss of emails would be devastating. I cannot risk it.
I highly recommend the cloud based version of exchange for any small to mid-sized firm. The cost is worth it for the ease of communication that the technology provides.