I have a small company with under 20 employees. I want to handle e-mail better. How many solutions are there? Most of the machines are Windows-based but there will be a few Macs for artwork. Friends have suggested a Linux machine to act as a server, but I do not know a lot about that. Name supplied Wan Chai This is by no means an easy question. As with many other decisions we make, it ultimately comes down to money: how much are you willing to spend? First, some simple points. Most of the world's electronic mail servers come from two companies: Microsoft or Lotus (IBM). There are other solutions, of course, but those two companies have an enormous share of the market. Lotus Notes is common in large organisations and governments, while Exchange seems to have cornered the small business market. Other possibilities include bundled packages with various flavours of the Linux operating system or a few others. There are, however, a number of issues apart from cost. Are you going to have at least one person dedicated to technology? In an office of your size in Hong Kong, the tendency is to get away without hiring a technical person. I do not know how wise this would be but you are on the borderline: if you get larger, you will definitely need to hire someone, but if you were smaller, you might have been able to get away without one. You have a more important question to ask yourself: do you want to host this? You can make all sorts of deals with local and even foreign companies to host your mail. They make certain it stays up - the good providers will offer a number of services. You would not have to worry about what technology they are using, although you may want to make certain they can handle Chinese, if you need that. If you want to handle e-mail yourself, you are in for quite a ride. Not only must you handle viruses and worms, you will also have to handle spam, backup and possibly archiving. If you do work for a company listed in the United States, you must keep your e-mail messages for seven years. There is more to the job. All this is tedious work. The Linux crowd will tell you it is free (untrue), and the Microsoft crowd will tell you it is cheap and easy (also untrue). If you get an internet service provider or other company to handle your office e-mail, you must be clear about what you want and what you will be getting. I keep a record of every e-mail I have ever received. It helps solve many problems when there are issues or disputes. Oddly enough, I am also able to use the archiving process to keep track of the articles I write. They are always delivered via e-mail and that means I have a secondary backup. Hiring somebody could be difficult for you. You would need to find out if the person knows what he is doing. Would you know what questions to ask in that case? Unless you have a friend who can help, I think you must outsource this one. Microsoft Exchange - www.microsoft.com/exchange/default.mspx Lotus - www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/sw-atoz/ Novell - www.novell.com/linux/suse/ Redhat - www.redhat.com/ Questions to Tech Talk will not be answered personally. E-mail Danyll Wills at email@example.com .