Exchange, Microsoft’s email server solution, has become one of the most widely used servers across the modern digital landscape. This comes as no surprise as Microsoft’s on-premise email server offers a secure, sturdy, and reliable solution that is known for its flexibility, user-friendliness, versatility, and customizability.
Naturally, no solution comes without its downsides. Being an on-prem server, Microsoft Exchange must be paired with adequate computing resources and sufficient storage, which can get quite expensive. All these factors combined are often a challenge for various companies.
SMBs are a good example, because of their limited resources, they usually can’t support the on-premise setup. Additionally, Exchange users also need to take care of regular hardware maintenance, making it a suboptimal solution for many companies in the long run.
Luckily, there are different alternatives to Microsoft Exchange aimed at solving these issues and in this article, we will look at 5 of the best ones you should consider.
But first, let’s go over some basic parameters we need to consider while choosing between effective Microsoft Exchange server alternatives.
What To Look For in a Microsoft Exchange Server Alternatives
When looking for optimal Microsoft Exchange server alternatives, you should take into account multiple factors that shape the solution and make sure it is in line with your unique business and infrastructure needs.
That being said, here are 6 factors to look for while choosing the right email server platform:
Size and Scalability
The size of your organization matters. There’s a big difference between having 10 and 500 employees, as well as taking into account the future growth of your organization.
These two factors determine the amount of email storage required and the optimal service plan for your organization.
Not all Microsoft Exchange server alternatives are created equal and with the same set of features.
Depending on the industry, workflow, the size of an organization, and other factors, different businesses have different needs in terms of email server features.
Some focus on file-sharing or chat functionality features, while others put emphasis on document generation, security, IMAP and POP support, integrations, etc.
Update Frequency and History
An email service server is an ongoing solution you will be utilizing for years and it should be up-to-date with the latest technologies.
Be sure to review the latest updates, how they changed the solution, how did the update process look like, and how long were the down times.
All of this can usually be found in product update logs or asked around the community and support.
Deployment is one of the most critical factors in setting up your email service and guaranteeing its longevity.
You can choose from an on-premise or a cloud solution for your organization depending on your needs and their advantages and disadvantages.
Accessing emails on the go has become a must as remote work has become an inevitable part of the modern business workplace. Be sure that the Microsoft Exchange server alternatives you are considering have high mobile functionality.
Never overlook the value of quality and swift customer support. Solutions that offer around-the-clock support that is accessible via multiple devices and channels are always a sound choice.
Your email server needs to operate exactly as it should for your business to continue running. Skipping on support or choosing an Exchange alternative with bad support might cost you hours or days of business activity.
Finally, who should you trust more than the people using the Exchange alternative you are considering?
Reading online user reviews can be a great source of data that can help you make an informed decision. Reading them carefully and going through as many as possible will provide you with valuable insight into the solution’s features, recurring issues, UX scores, and other useful information about a specific email server service.
If you have any questions, you can always start a Reddit thread or ask the tech community for feedback and learn more about the product.
Now that you know what you should look for, let’s go over the best email service alternatives to Microsoft Exchange and find the perfect one for you.
Overview of the 5 Best Microsoft Exchange Server Alternatives
Google Workspace (Formerly Google G Suite)
Google Workspaces is a top-tier collaboration and productivity software suite that is among the best Microsoft Exchange server alternatives to consider, especially if your organization needs an all-around solution with an integrated cloud-based email server, Gmail.
|Related: Google Workspaces (Google Suite) vs. Gmail: Which One to Choose?|
Gmail is among the most widely used alternatives to Exchange Server as well as Exchange Online and is available at a great price. The cheapest pricing plan starts at $6/month per user, where you get business-level Gmail service, cloud storage of up to 30GB, shared calendars, and Google’s full suite of productivity applications (Sheets, Slides, Forms…).
IceWarp advertises itself as a “fully-featured Exchange alternative.” It manages to provide its users with a robust set of features that rivals Microsoft Office 365, while its price is half the price of Exchange Server. Despite its low cost, IceWarp enables companies to have access to a wide range of collaboration applications in one tool.
With IceWarp, users get a business-class email, business-class calendaring, instant messaging functionality, conference calls, and document storage. This browser-based webmail client solution also covers GDPR-compliant login settings, custom domains, multi-layered security, smart attachments, and many more useful features for just $3.50/month per user make IceWarp an Exchange alternative worth considering.
This platform, branded as “ruthlessly open”, offers a substantial set of applications that include productivity tools, email, and messaging capabilities, as well as proper security solutions. This is one of the most used white-label Microsoft Exchange server alternatives as it features both online and offline email access to businesses.
OX provides its users with contact management, a personal dashboard, scheduling options, and task management capabilities that are integrated with OX’s email functionality keeping the whole workflow seamless. This is a great Exchange alternative, especially for service providers, and starting at $5/month per user, there’s no debate about this tool.
If you are an enterprise-level company that is looking for a solution based on open-source technologies, then Zimbra might be what you are looking for. As per the team behind Zimbra, this collaboration platform encompasses multiple open-source projects under one supported and certified open-source collaboration application tailored to satisfy the needs of enterprises.
This Exchange alternative incorporates a robust email server that offers functionalities like messaging, calendaring, Microsoft Office tools integration, and chat/video conferencing, therefore comprising a centralized business communication database. Some of the best Zimbra features include accessibility from any device, a MAPI connector (to link with Outlook), enhanced Allow-Quarantine-Block controls, and a set of useful tools similar to those of Office 365.
Kerio Connect is a great alternative suite for small to medium businesses that offers email service, calendar applications, instant messaging, etc. It focuses solely on communication instead of being an all-around collaboration tool making it a much more affordable option than big brands. It has both on-prem and partner-hosted cloud systems providing you with quick deployment.
It is among the best Microsoft exchange alternatives as it features crucial tools for your organization’s communication with a secure and easy-to-set-up option that can be easily expanded as your organization grows. With its $3/month per user price point, Kerio is a great alternative you can try.
Don’t Forget About Email Archiving Solutions
After finding the best Microsoft Exchange alternative for your organization, there’s one piece of advice you should consider – invest in a robust email archiving solution.
It is very important to integrate an effective email archiving tool in your organization that will help you optimize your email storage and management and help you stay compliant in your industry.
|Related: What Is Email Archiving? Benefits and Best Practices|
What is the best Microsoft Exchange alternative?
The best alternative to Exchange server depends on your specific needs, budget and preferences. Some popular alternatives: Google Workspaces (GSuite), Zimbra, IceWarp, Kerio, IBM Notes, Zoho Mail. When evaluating Exchange server alternatives, remember that each has advantages and limitations, so it’s important to consider your organization’s needs and requirements.
Is Microsoft Exchange being phased out?
Microsoft Exchange 2016 is currently in extended support. Both Exchange 2016 and 2019 will exit support in 2025, when the new version of Exchange is supposed to be released.
Is Office365 the same as Exchange?
Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office 365 are not the same, but they are related products and services offered by Microsoft. Exchange is an on-premise (hosted) server solution used for email. Exchange Online is its online counterpart, and it is just one of the products included in Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) suite.
What is the next Exchange server?
Microsoft releases new versions of their products, including Exchange Server, on a regular cadence. Historically, new versions have been released every 2-4 years. The next version of Exchange is coming in the second half of 2025.
What is the difference between Exchange and cloud?
Microsoft Exchange Server is built on dedicated physical or virtual servers and requires maintenance and involvement from your IT department. Microsoft Exchange Online is entirely cloud-based.
Is Exchange better than IMAP?
Microsoft Exchange and IMAP serve different purposes and have distinct advantages depending on your needs. IMAP is a protocol used for accessing and managing email messages stored on a mail server. Exchange is a full-featured email and collaboration server that provides not only email services but also calendars, contacts, tasks, and more. Exchange offers the same convenient email syncing function as IMAP, but also allows you to sync tasks, calendars, and contacts with co-workers.