Yet another component of the massive Amazon Web Services (AWS) ecosystem, Amazon WorkMail is a fairly competitive email hosting solution, although there is room for improvement. It offers 50 GB of storage per email box and a much improved web client since we last tested it. However, you’ll still miss out on many of the niceties you’ll get with leaders in this space, such as our two Editors’ Choice award winners Google Workspace Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium.
Amazon WorkMail pricing and plans
While Microsoft seems determined to make its pricing as complex as possible, Amazon is doing better because it goes the other way around. WorkMail costs $ 4 per user per month, including 50 GB of mailbox storage per user. That’s it, a flat rate with no option other than the number of users. Oddly enough, Amazon’s WorkMail webpage has a link to a price calculator, but if you click on it, you’ll see calculators for a really long list of AWS products, not just WorkMail.
Taking the base price of $ 4, however, we can still compare WorkMail to our more affordable competitors, especially IceWarp Cloud. This platform starts at $ 2.50 per user per month, although this tier only offers 5GB of email storage per user. Take it to the next level and IceWarp offers 100 GB per user and 1 TB of file storage, as well as collaboration and productivity tools for $ 3.90 per user per month. Measured in this regard, Amazon has a long way to go before it can compete on the basis of price. But if you want to try WorkMail for yourself, there is a 30-day free trial.
To get started, you’ll need to create a new organization in Amazon WorkMail. This organization can be associated with one or more domains, but you will get a temporary default subdomain on awsapps.com. Once you’re ready, you can click on the organization and add a domain. You will be presented with a to-do checklist to confirm that you own the domain and that its MX and CNAME records are set up correctly. After that you can add users.
Adding users is a simple operation: click on Create user and provide a name, the domain to which you want to associate it and an initial password. While the interface doesn’t have a good way to import a list of users, the manual method is painless enough to avoid this being a major complaint unless you have a really long list. It’s also handy for Amazon to put the Reset Password button in the foreground of the user list. This is quite a common request that it is nice not to have to search for it.
You can also create groups similar to Microsoft 365. These are basically mailing lists that can go to one or more addresses. Groups are great for media type addresses where you don’t want to pay for a particular box, but it is not recommended that you hand out a specific person’s contact information. While that might be standard fare, one of Amazon’s weirder features is a resource list that gets enforced during meetings. While this only makes sense in the context of WorkMail, you can reserve specific rooms or equipment needed for a meeting.
Other settings include access control rules that allow you to define, with some important details, what is allowed and what is not allowed in WorkMail. For example, you can configure allow or deny rules for specific protocols, IP addresses, or origins. Although it takes a minute or two to understand the concept, it is a powerful feature that allows you to ensure that you only expose WorkMail to specific types of access.
Retention policies are the opposite. They lack the proper granularity: you can choose to delete or permanently delete inbox items, deleted items, sent items, drafts, and spam after a set period of days. But you only get one policy with no way to set retention for specific groups (different rules for accounting and IT, for example). It would make sense for this to be fleshed out in the future.
When you’re ready to start using email, you have the option of using third-party clients like Outlook or your mobile devices. WorkMail provides instructions for setting them up, and you’ll probably want to use them: while the WorkMail web app works quite well, it lacks a lot of the features found in options like Gmail or Fastmail.
One of them is that of email labels, which are practically mandatory for good email organization these days. It also lacks the ability to send encrypted email, which ProtonMail Professional, Microsoft 365, Google, and Zoho Mail have had for a long time. Fortunately, WorkMail supports the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol, and you can fully synchronize your mail, contacts, and calendars. So if you stick with your favorite mobile device or third-party email client, you will hardly notice that anything is missing. One quirk I noticed is that the Drafts folder doesn’t sync which might surprise some people.
That said, there are some familiar features. Email rules are present, as well as automatic replies when you are out of the office. There is also a calendar app that works well enough but lacks the ability to set a segmented workday like Microsoft 365, so it will have a limited benefit for people working from home who struggle to maintain a balanced schedule. . Contacts are also familiar and easy to manage.
Amazon WorkMail Security and Integration
This is an area where the platform is strong. WorkMail falls under the same corporate cloud security that the rest of AWS is known for. Third-party regulators frequently test and verify their security as part of AWS compliance programs. SOC reports are available for AWS and WorkMail.
The platform supports multi-factor authentication, encryption in transit, encryption at rest, and a variety of other mechanisms to protect your organization’s data. With all the audits and regulations involved, it’s easy to feel safe and secure storing your data here. That said, if you need to go further or outside the legal jurisdiction of the United States, you might want to take a look at ProtonMail.
On the integration side, Amazon does very well with its own products, including Amazon WorkDocs and CloudTrail. It also communicates well with Microsoft, including Active Directory as well as Outlook mail and calendar. If your needs go beyond that, Amazon certainly has a plethora of developer tools available if you’re comfortable with yours. But small businesses looking for an easier integration path should start by searching Amazon’s long list of value-added partners.
A good price, but a little stripped down
Amazon WorkMail is a good basic email service, but it lacks the functionality of similarly priced solutions unless you pay extra for WorkDocs. In addition, its user experience is far from transparent and lags considerably behind Zoho and Google. Ultimately, WorkMail is a solid, secure service that doesn’t quite justify the price tag, although it is definitely on the right track.