For most of us today, email is a major part of our lives. Whether it be for business or personal reasons, one thing we all look for in an email service, especially if we are paying for it, is reliability. So what if you're not having the best of luck with Apple's MobileMe service or any other IMAP alternatives? Maybe it's time to consider a hosted Exchange account. Not familiar with Exchange? Then be sure to check out Rene's excellent article from a while back, Walkthrough: Exchange ActiveSync On Your iPhone 2.0. That article can give you a great understanding of exactly how Exchange works on the iPhone.
Don't have a corporate solution or your very own Exchange server, though? No problem! I'm going to be giving you some very reliable hosted Exchange services as well as some tips on getting it up and running for the flawless email you have been seeking!
More after the jump!
Finding the right service for you
The first step in setting up a hosted Exchange account is finding the service provider that best suites your needs and that is reliable. A good place to read some reviews for all of the services available to you is www.exchangehostingreviews.com. If those service providers seem like overkill to you and you do not want to spend any money take a look at this article, Want Exchange Activesync for FREE?
Now instead of me going through that whole list, let me just jump to my personal favorite and the service that I recently started using, Sherweb. For $8.95 a month ($107.40 a year -- competitive with Apple's MobileMe pricing!) here is what Sherweb offers you:
A few main reasons I switched from a MobileMe account to Exchange is due to the fact that I could not sync all of my data with a Windows Mobile device along with my iPhone. The second reason being that a lot of my mail was never reliably pushed to my phone with MobileMe. During the past two months of using Sherweb, however, I've experienced nothing but top notch service. There was one one night when I had a single hour of downtime that was announced well ahead of time, and that was not a issue at all. More importantly, I get every single email sent to me on time with no issues what so ever.
So whichever provider you choose, choose wisely. You want to make sure you select the provider that can increase efficiency and productivity for your business or pleasure. For me it's Sherweb (and no, I do not work for them or know anyone that does.)
Setting up Hosted Exchange on the iPhone
Setting up your Exchange account is relatively simple process on the iPhone. Just follow the below steps. Please note that the server information that I have filled in is for Sherweb members only. Check with your host for their specific settings.
WARNING - Before you set up your Exchange account, please know that any contacts and calendar events currently on your iPhone will be erased. They will be replaced with what is in your Exchange account. So please make sure that you transfer all of your data to Exchange before going through the setup process on your iPhone.
First, from the device’s main screen, go to: Settings ->Mail, Contacts, Calendar ->Add Account -> Microsoft Exchange.
Under account info, in the Email address box, enter your hosted Exchange email address.
Leave the Domain field blank (unless your specific hosted Exchange provider tells you otherwise).
In the Username box, type in your email address. This needs to be the main email address for your account (i.e. the one you are using when logging into Outlook Web Access).
In the Password box, type in your account password.
Tap on the Next button at the top of the screen.
NOTE: Your device may fail stating "Unable to Verify certificate." If this is the case, tap Accept.
A box labelled Server will appear. Enter: webmail.ihostexchange.net (or the server name of your specific hosted Exchange provider)
Tap on the Next button at the top of the screen.
The device will then verify the server saying "Account has been verified."
A new screen will appear asking you to "Select info to synchronize using Exchange." It will display Mail, Contacts and Calendars. Turn the features ON if you desire to have them synchronized with your Exchange account. Once satisfied, select the Save button.
You will then be taken back to the default Mail, Contacts and Calendar screen. You can adjust the mail settings preferences here as you wish.
By default the iPhone will only sync the last 3 days of mail. To sync older messages, Please do the following:
Go to : Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendar.
Tap on the Exchange account. Tap on Mail days to sync and select from No Limit (which will sync all messages) to 1 Month.
Congratulations, you have just successfully setup your very own Hosted Exchange account! Enjoy the most reliable email you can have on your iPhone!
(Thanks to Cory for introducing me to Sherweb!)