- Internet Access Provider (aka IAP),
- Email Service Provider (aka ESP or MSP),
- Web Hosting Provider, and
- Usenet Service Provider.
- Excellence. There is no provider that does an excellent job at all three of these. I've spent years researching this and I am confident that there is no such provider.
- No Lock In. If you use a different provider for each of these, it is easy to plug & play with these providers. In other words, if you become unhappy with service X, you can switch to X', and service Y and Z will be unaffected.
- Mobility. When you need to use an Internet access provider other than your normal one, for example if you use a random broadband or wireless connection, your computer will already be all set up to access your email- and web-hosting services because these will be independent of your IAP.
2006-December-7 Update: If you are not convinced that you should separate your access provider and your email provider, I recommend that you read Bob Cringely's In a Jam: Stories of ISP bad faith and can the government really listen in to your VoIP calls? Yes they can., which includes this:
"Earthlink's email system has been so overloaded that some users have been missing up to 90 percent of their incoming email. It isn't bounced back to senders; it just disappears. And Earthlink hasn't mentioned the problem to these affected customers unless they complain."This type of email problem is common with Internet access providers, such as EarthLink. Nowadays, doing email right requires email administrators who are 100% focused on email and who are dedicated to keeping up with all the latest spam-fighting techniques. This is a huge job and most access providers do not have system administrators who have the time or ability to do this. For more about this, see:
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What keeps me worrying is backups, or better: the lack of backups. Some service providers make it pretty difficult to backup/export/save data so that it can be stored in a safe place.
There should be a provider who offers (automatic) backups of my other accounts at various providers :)
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