1&1 MailXchange review
1&1 MailXchange is a web-based online email and collaboration system – but before you head to the next review thinking “just what we need, another web based collaboration tool”, stop for a minute and read on. This one is well priced and has some neat features.
It’s based on the open-source OX collaboration system, which you can download and install on your own server, but is offered by 1&1 as a fully hosted solution to anyone even if they don’t host with them.
Being a hosted solution means users don’t have to worry about server maintenance or hosting costs. The other advantage is ease-of-use: you can set up and start creating user accounts in a matter of minutes.
As with any company offering to host and store your company data, or offering a service that will be critical to your business, it’s vital to read its terms and conditions and ask for its Service Level agreements so you know exactly where you stand should things start to go wrong. That aside, using a company the size of 1&1 should give you a reliable service, and it performed well in our annual service and reliability awards.
How it works
With MailXchange email handling is done through a compulsory spam filter, which you can add black and whitelist email accounts to. There’s also an “out of office” facility. However, the idea of MailXchange isn’t to handle just email but also contact lists, tasks and calendars in a web-based front-end.
And it goes further than that by allowing selected users to share documents as well as calendars and tasks so collaboration on projects is possible.
There’s an administration area where you can set up users and groups as well as resources for sharing. Resources can be such things as a meeting room or a projector which need to be allocated to a meeting or a project. Documents for sharing are stored in an area called “infostore”, which contains a versioning system so previous versions of a file can be seen and you can be sure your colleagues are working on the correct copy.
Users of Microsoft’s Exchange have, for a number of years, had the experience of Outlook Web Access, possibly the first mainstream application of Ajax. 1&1’s MailXchange offers similar features but also the ability to link items.
With this functionality you could, for example, link an email to a task as well as to a document, helping to create groups of information into a job or project. Other permitted users can view and add to these projects to form the basics of a team-collaboration system.
Web-based versus local
The problem with many of these web-based front ends is they’re often dependant on the peculiarities of particular browsers. This one, like most, works best with Microsoft’s IE7, and although 1&1 states that it’s also recommended to work with Firefox, we found problems with screen redrawing if the browser window was resized in Firefox 2 on Windows. However the recently released Google Chrome browse worked well with it.
The other problem with using web-based front ends for such collaboration work is one that’s common across all such products: what happens when you’re offline? Say you’re in the train and away from any form of reliable internet connection and want to study an email about a project. Well, you can’t.
Technologies such as Google Gears and Adobe AIR have made it possible for the latest generation of browsers to have their own private data store, and we may see this being addressed in future products, but for now it’s a problem with any online-only solution, not just 1&1’s.
|Software subcategory||Other software|
Operating system support
|Other operating system support||N/A|