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Moving Away from Gmail (rolisz.ro)
349 points by rolisz on April 11, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 278 comments

I used to run my own mail server, and that very nearly cost me a career-changing job at Microsoft. My reply to a hiring manager for a team I really wanted to work on went into Microsoft's bit bucket because (I'm guessing) their spam detectors didn't like my own domain and my own instance of Exim sending out my emails. When a recruiter (thankfully) followed up and scheduled me for on-site interviews, that manager mentioned that he never got a reply when he emailed me. That was the point where I realized that email had gone the way of fiefdoms, and if I wanted really important emails to make it through, I'd need to choose which castle I wanted to handle my email.

Wait...your mail was a reply to a mail they sent to you, and it went to the bit bucket? Their spam handling is not sophisticated enough to special case replies to mails that they have sent?

Google does this as well - neither a history of emailing back and forth nor a same-day reply will keep incoming email safe from being classified as spam if it's being sent by an ordinary mail server.

Hell, Google even manages to classify emails as spam that are sent from one address on a GSuite account to another address on the same account.

I think it is time we realize that Google in its current form is broken in many ways.

This is just one example. Others include:

- insisting on captchas,and not just one, even when I'm logged in with my >10 year old, paid for account with two-factor enabled

- not being able to detect flag attacks against legitimate accounts (as seen on the front page today)

- killing reader, trying to force everyone to use a single identify, then at the same time name their otherwise brilliant social network the same thing as the hated identity solition

- then killing said social network

- not being able to even keep the quality on their flagship user facing product (for us who knew it 10 and 15 years ago what we see today is a mockery.)

I hope someone here can submit applications for next batch of YC:

- like Google search in 2008. I'll happily turn off your adblocker for you and be glad to see simple, relevant text ads. Or pay up to USD5 monthly if thats better (more if necessary and if the quality is good enough, although at some point I'd probably need to expense it.)

- like Google+ but not owned by Google

- like Google Reader but not owned by Google

And, probably also (unrelated to Google):

- like stackoverflow but focused on answering questions, not playing political and nitpicking games

- like WhatsApp before they were acquired (and with a strong guarantee that this new company will stay independent)

Some possible alternatives you could try:

For search engine I'd suggest duckduckgo, it's far from perfect but I don't see any other viable alternative, if anyone knows anything please let us know.

For messaging I would suggest Signal. The problem there is that most people don't know of it and they won't ditch whatsapp to go on something that their friends won't be on.

That's the same problem that a new social network is going to face. I think it's safe to say that if even Google with all their capital couldn't make it work, then it's going to be extremely difficult to find investors to bet on a random guy's idea. Facebook with all the shit it has been and done has almost 2bn users, how are we going to convince even 5% of them to abandon it for something new without anyone they know there?

Thanks! I mostly agree.

I already use duckduckgo. It is not as good as Google used to be but a lot less annoying - and Google is not as good as it used to be either, so I consider duckduckgo best now. Also trying with Google after duckduckgo is faster than the other way around.

I already Signal but although more and more people join, nobody uses it for day-to-day texts and family updates.

Everyone I know uses Telegram and even after following all discussions here I'm fine with that.

> That's the same problem that a new social network is going to face. I think it's safe to say that if even Google with all their capital couldn't make it work, then it's going to be extremely difficult to find investors to bet on a random guy's idea.

Partly agree. But I think an Instagram or WhatsApp style bootstrapping of a new social network is still possible and no one has stepped up to take the plave of Google+.

Remember, it was Google that ran it. I suspect it was utterly mismanaged.

A number of things can work very well even if Google can't make it work.

> Also trying with Google after duckduckgo is faster than the other way around.

And with the '!g'-bang you can still have privacy and use google.

How would this yield better privacy than searching directly from Google?

For programming related things (in general, everything non mainstream), I find ddg to be nearly unusable and I always have to go back to Google. The results I get on ddg are almost always only in the general area of the search terms, while Google gives me specific results that are relevant and helpful. Sadly that's why I can't switch as much as I want to.

I do not find this; I've been using ddg exclusively for several years now.

> - like Google search in 2008. I'll happily turn off your adblocker for you and be glad to see simple, relevant text ads. Or pay up to USD5 monthly if thats better (more if necessary and if the quality is good enough, although at some point I'd probably need to expense it.)

I'd happily pay significantly more if it's good. The amount of time I'd save with a good search engine will easily be calculated in hours per month. $50 a month to save me 5 hours and lots of mental energy not spent on skimming useless results? Where do I sign up?

> like Google Reader but not owned by Google

Since Reader was shut down, we've gotten a lot of really good options for RSS.

Feedly, Inoreader, TinyTinyRSS, Newsblur, The Old Reader, Feedbin, FeedHQ…

That's exactly what happened to me. I wrote a mail from my GSuite domain to another one. With other addresses from the domain I had contact, but with this account my mails did not arrive in spam, did not bounce. Just got deleted by Google. It was reproducible and took away all my trust in Gmail. The worst part is that I know there is no point in trying to report this problem. I wouldn't even know how to contact Google.

Do other spam filters actually check every incoming email against a database of outgoing emails?

Mine does. And I wrote it myself.

You could use a Bloom filter to save on memory.

And perhaps empty it once a year, if necessary. (Ie so that replies to emails older than a year don't rank better than random emails.)

I just throw all the subject lines into a database. The data volume is not even remotely close to the limits of a modern DB.

Oh, I was thinking of how eg GMail could do it.

It depends a bit on volume of spam compared to legitimate emails. GMail knows about all of your past outgoing messages anyway, but the bloom filter would allow to quickly drop spam.

Google is already using Bloom filters to eg check locally in one service whether a cache in a different service is likely to be able to answer a query.

Microsoft's spam filter is awfully strict (the one for outlook.com at least but I don't think the one for its employees is that different)

From what I've seen, outlook.com does seem to have some special case for mail from people you've sent to. I did some experiments a few months ago, and again a week or two ago with mail delivery, and outlook.com was one of the targets. Here's what I did.

I have a domain, which I'll refer to as @mine in the following. It's a .net domain that I've had for 20+ years. It has never been used by anyone other than me. Before I had it, it was owned by my employer which had bought it for me as a gift and transferred it to me. They were the first to ever register it, but never used it for anything.

@mine has never sent spam, or any commercial email at all except for either replies to received commercial email or to contact businesses I was a customer of or wanted to be a customer of at their support or sales addresses.

In the early 2000s I think spammers occasionally forged @mine emails, back before SPF was a thing. I added an SPF record when those became normal, and later DKIM and DMARC records. The various online checking tools tell me that these are all set up correctly. I've never had a hit checking for @mine with the various online blacklist checking tools.

I did some experiments a few months ago, when @mine was handled by a server of my own, running on a VM at Rackspace. All the test messages were short, with no URLs or images, mentions of money, or anything else suspicious. Thing's like "Bob's birthday party will be Saturday instead of Sunday. Can you make it?"...i.e., innocuous innocent things that ordinary people might send to other ordinary people.

@mine -> gmail.com: went to inbox. It shows that SPF, DKIM, and DMARC all pass. I'm not sure that this was a valid test though, because I'm pretty sure that Google knows that me@mine is the same person as me@gmail, so they might give it preferential treatment.

@mine -> yahoo.com: went to spam. I marked it as not spam, and sent another one. That and subsequent messages went to inbox.

@mine -> outlook.com: went to spam. I marked it as not spam, and sent another one. Went to spam. Repeat the mark and send thing several times. Still goes straight to spam.

A couple months or so later, the Linux distro I ran my server on was rapidly approaching EOL for long term support, and I moved @mine to Fastnet.com and cancelled my Rackspace account. (The only other thing @mine was a very low volume web server...I moved that to Amazon Lightsail. $3.50/month for that + $3.61/month for Fastmail is less than 1/3 of what the cheapest Rackspace VM cost (and I was on a grandfathered plan there that was cheaper than any of the current plans).

I repeated the experiment with @mine now at Fastmail, to see if the problem at outlook.com was that I was running my own server at a public cloud.

@mine ->gmail and yahoo still went to inbox, just as they did at the end of the first experiment.

@mine -> outlook.com: still to spam. A few more cycles of mark not spam and try again did not change this.

I own another domain, my ham radio call sign in .us. I grabbed that when I got my license, and have never done anything with it. It just had whatever standard parking page Namecheap uses and whatever standard mail handling they provide when you register a domain there and don't do anything with it.

I switched @ham mail handling over the Fastmail, and tried the experiment again.

Same results as the first @mine experiment. Gmail never went to spam, yahoo went to spam once, and then to inbox after I told it that one was not spam. Outlook straight to spam despite repeated attempts to train it otherwise.

I also tried marking @ham as a "safe sender" in outlook, which is supposed to bypass the spam checking. Nope. Still straight to spam. Some Googling turned up reports on MS support forums of "safe sender" not working, and it appears that this has been a long term problem. (I also found that sometimes my "safe sender" list would disappear. Outlook.com, at least via the web interface, seems rather flaky). (I saw some other posts that suggested that using rules was also insufficient...apparently rules processing takes place after spam processing?)

Finally, I sent a mail from outlook.com to @ham. After that, mail from @ham went to inbox.

It would be nice to try now with a third new domain, this time sending from outlook to @third before ever trying to send to outlook, and then seeing what happens to the first mail from @third to outlook. Actually, it would be best to also do this with @fourth, with the first mail from @third being a reply to the mail from outlook, and the first mail from @fourth not being a reply.

But I don't have any other domains. Maybe the next time I see a really cheap domain promotion at Namecheap I'll grab a couple and try this. They've got .xyz for $1/year right now. Maybe if I get bored enough with the COVID-19 "stay at home" I'll grab a couple and give it a try.

I can confirm that outlook.com is truly awful in that regard. The fact that I continously got important emails marked as Spam, even when they were from an UN org and I've exchanged emails with some of the participants before, made me leave it and migrate to Mailbox.org. Now I sometimes my emails don't make it to MSFT inboxes, but it has been less of a problem so far. And after having set the Junk filter to the most permissive settings (something that you can't with Outlook.com), only one "legit" Phishing mail landed there.

I also have a custom domain on fastmail that seems to end up in the spam folder of people using outlook in an enterprise setting. Kind of unsettling. I have never had it happen in any other case that I know of. But I’m pretty sure I have gotten spam flagged even when they have sent an email to me first. And I also think I have been OK’d at some point by them flagging me as not spam.. I talked to fastmail support but all they could do was verify that my domain settings were indeed correct

Do you remember what sort of validation you had setup (if any)? e.g. SPF, DKIM, IP from reputable block, etc. I'm curious to what degree this can potentially be mitigated.

spf, dkim and clean ip were enough for my opensmtpd to deliver mail from my domain into gmail and outlook inboxes

The problem is that you are really dependent in what other people in your address range do. One malicious user in the same DC could reduce the reputation of an address range and then you get mail delivery problems.

I'd rather pay someone to sort out such issues for me. The $5 p/m or so I pay Fastmail monthly are far cheaper than my own time.

i have similar experiences. clean ip (actually from a hetzner block, but not on any lists), and dkim. I have never dropped an outgoing mail.

I use Gmail for personal mail and Yandex mail for my domains. I tried SendGrid but when I tested with Gmail, Outlook.com and Yahoo, most mails got into spam folder.

It's best to test when you set up email, whether you use your own server or use a provider.

Most of the times, sending mail from your own server will guarantee your mail gets into spam folder.

I can highly recommend Yandex as a mail provider.

I switched from Gmail to Fastmail back in 2013 [1] and haven't looked back.

Fastmail has continued to make significant improvements, while keeping the interface lean and functional.

It seems to me like $3/month is worth it for a service as critical as email.

[1]: https://www.maxmasnick.com/2013/07/19/fastmail/ and discussion here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6069944

I agree $3/month is reasonable for email, but since the encryption backdoor laws passed in Australia in Dec 2018, I've been avoiding Australian software.

Would the Australian encryption laws impact Fastmail that much? AFAIK their emails were never encrypted at rest to begin with so someone with a warrant could always have gotten in.

The question is why you would ever expose your data to the control of lawmakers who make such laws if you're not Australian.

You should take a look at https://fastmail.blog/2018/09/10/access-and-assistance-bill/. They say it doesn’t affect their customers.

While that's true it's also because they don't use E2E. Which I guess makes any discussion about encryption backdoors rather pointless.

If you need E2E encryption, you shouldn't use email.

If you think I'm saying no one should still be using email (the collection of standards and protocols, that is) then you are correct.

If you're worried about E2E then I'm not sure what options you have other than maybe proton mail (and then only if both parties are using it) or GPG-encrypting messages, at which point host is irrelevant.

While the legislation introduced by the Australian government is certainly worrying and should never had been enacted, I've always operated under the assumption that if any government agency around the world really wants to get to my encrypted data or traffic, they'll likely be able to use/abuse some sort of loophole in their current processes and laws anyway.

Not if you are the only one holding the encryption keys to your content.

Email cannot really be secure, the recipient also has the copy, so holding encryption keys is meh?

They can secure their email as well?

If that's the case then why would the Australian government need to open the door even wider? The implication is that privacy laws pose inconveniences.

It's a shame that they don't propose a reduced price for families. The $3-5 add up.

Fastmail has continued to make significant improvements, while keeping the interface lean and functional.

And they are making open standards (JMAP) and contributing to the Cyrus IMAP server.

Moreover, they will soon have labels :) (currently in beta).

I am very surprised a "one man show" was the author's final choice here: What if the one man gets hit by a bus? FastMail is probably worth the increased cost to avoid that concern alone.

But in general, I am excited to see anyone moving to their own email domain, decentralized is how email was always supposed to be.

EDIT: A huge terms issue with PurelyMail is "The Company may, at its sole discretion, terminate service without cause or notice." FastMail can terminate for violations of the terms or non-payment, PurelyMail could terminate you because Scott just doesn't like you anymore.

Hi! I am the "Scott" from Purelymail in question. In the hopefully unlikely event I'm hit by a bus, I do have friends who could step in to keep it running for a while. One of my infrastructural goals is also to have it run itself without manual intervention, where feasible. It's not 100% there yet, though. (Hence the beta.)

As to the terms of service, as far as I know the clause you quoted is fairly standard cover-your-ass. I've probably seen it in a few other service terms. Presumably, Fastmail words it as they do because they've covered all the reasons they might want to do so in their terms already, and have decades of legal experience.

Hey! I feel like ensuring you clarify you'll only shut down an account if they break the rules you set out is a really good practice and there are examples, like FastMail's, you could borrow from. I know the standard boilerplate is to give a service the right to do whatever it wants, but as a small indie service operator you can be better than the fairly standard! ;)

Your service running itself is a good idea for avoiding you doing a lot of work, but if you got hit by a bus it is likely someone would shut off your credit cards that pay for services your services depends on and even if it's a box in your house it will end up unplugged. I'd strongly advise some business continuity involving a very trusted friend or family member who can be your second in managing the service at minimum, who has access to everything and knows what to do already.

I hope you don't take my comments as too much of a knock, what you're building is hard and worthwhile, and I wish you success with it. I'm on FastMail but that doesn't mean I always will be, and I like to have good options by good people.

No offense taken! I think you're broadly right that I could be doing a better job on reassuring messaging, and I'll put that on my work queue.

I also hope to solve any bus factor problems before leaving beta. Right now if I were struck down, I think I'd still have about 9 months worth of free AWS credits on the account running the service, plus any profits. (It's not quite a self sustaining business yet, but it's not that far from it either.)

Your responsiveness on these questions is seriously making me consider picking up an account. I, too, am looking for an excuse to migrate off GMail (It's a significant project once you have 30+ accounts) and your product might just be the straw needed to get me moving.

I do try to answer questions on HN. It's a little hard to keep track of threads over time, though. (Am I missing something?)

Anyway, good luck getting away from gmail!

Could you also commit to notifying users when the privacy policy or terms of service change? I suspect you already do this, but it would be good to have it in writing.

Sure. I'll add that in to the company policy documentation I'm going to draw up. (Or put it in the TOS itself?)

@Felz, hey mate, I love what you are doing. I will get Purelymail featured on SaaSHub for a few months. Hopefully that may bring you a few new sign ups. Please just get it verified there and improve the listing.

Keep up the good work!

Cool! I'll take a look.

...also, once it's a self-sustaining business, there will be the opportunity to hire people and decrease the busk-factor risk.

Hey Scott, Purelymail looks like a really nice service! Out of curiosity: how are you handling deliverability/avoiding spam filters? From my experience, hosting my personal email, any messages I send almost always go to spam (unless it's a direct reply to an email I've received). (I've set up SPF, DKIM, DMARC, a PTR record, etc) Is it just a matter of building up enough email volume?

I wrote a blog post on this a while back:


Unfortunately there aren't any easy answers. You'll have to be persistent.

I don't think it matters even with all that stuff. The first time you email anyone, it's going to go to spam. Once you have established a mail flow, then it will continue. The best setup is to have them email you first, then your replies will already be well scored.

Seeing this thread prompted me to sign up - I've been procrastinating over ditching gmail and consolidating on one IMAP provider for ages.

I shelved my one main doubt (I don't think much of Roundcube) and started the process today. Seems like you've done a really good job. Recipients have been getting all my emails, and I have found the integrated migration tool invaluable in getting set up.

Good luck with the venture.

> friends who could step in

"could" or "would"? Is there something in place, and have they agreed to this?

Could. I'll see about locking one down.

Zoho Mail only costs $2 more per year vs PurelyMail (it's shown on PurelyMail's website along with other competitors) and also avoids the "one man show" problem.

I'm not sure saving $2 a year is worth using a self-proclaimed (according to its website) beta service. Then again Gmail was in beta for many years.

Indeed. I honestly would never go cheap on email again. People have traditionally expected it to be free, but it's the most crucial point of my online presence: I need to be able to rely on it and it needs to be good.

In my opinion, the fact that people would pay more for Netflix than their email provider is kinda crazy, when you think about their relative importance.

The majority of people are probably also only using that e-mail to have somewhere for their Netflix receipts to go.

Email is obviously really important, but the cost of running Netflix is extremely different to running an email service and I would take that into account with the pricing.

But I think Netflix is extremely cheap/good value if you enjoy the content.

Last I checked, Zoho was per address; This guy specifically looked for domain support (meaning, potentially hundreds of addresses).

PurelyMail seems to charge by storage, not mailbox address; and AFAIK so does Migadu (which, up until reading this post, I thought was unique in that).

I will admit it's unfortunate to have to pay per inbox on FastMail. I can't even pay less for my second box to be smaller and more limited, it must be at the same rate as my main box.

They do allow infinite aliases which covers most of my needs, but when I wanted to use a FastMail box for my home automation system's service account it didn't make sense to do so.

Zoho offers catch-all adresses on their service so one inbox can handl hundreds of adresses.

Not exactly the same as hundreds of individual addresses/inboxes, but may fit some people's needs.

I've been using Zoho like this now for a little while and I am pretty happy with it considering the price.

Zoho is per user/inbox but a single user/inbox can receive emails for multiple domains and email ids. You can also set up individual sending identities. I am currently receiving email for 7 domains while paying for one.

There is an undocumented limit though. You can generally only have upto 30 aliases.

Fair comment, but all of those concerns are mitigated if you:

1) use your own domain(s)

2) take frequent backups

so, even if the purely mail dies, you have access to historical emails and since you own the domains you can migrate to another provider pretty quickly and again, since you own the domain any accounts that are connected to that email address/domain combo are not impacted.

How many people are actively backing up their email on their own? Backing up email seems much simpler than running your own email server, but it's still going to require some technical know how.

To me, the comment that you can just manage your own backups suggests that the service isn't right for anyone nontechnical or technical people who are too busy to backup a hosted service.

I was thinking of using the desktop email clients doing the backup.

but someone who cannot do that is definitely not going to move off of free Gmail/Yahoo mail/...

In Roundcube, you can just click "More → Download folder" to get a backup of an email folder.

Installing Thunderbird and configuring the account, while more involved than the above, is still within reach of many non-technical users.

I think most people don't backup because they don't think they need to, rather than because they are unable. Unfortunately, they're wrong.

> 2) take frequent backups

My argument is that people really should use POP3 (not IMAP) for this reason.

POP3 by design creates a continuous local "backup" that contains the entire history. IMAP doesn't.

I would strongly recommend against using POP3 for such purposes. It doesn’t contain the entire history, for two reasons:

• POP3 doesn’t have the concept of mailboxes. All you will get is the messages that exist at the time of request, not any folders you’ve put them into or labels applied.

• If you delete a message on the server, it won’t be deleted locally, which means that your backup does not represent the current state of affairs.

Also POP3 is definitely designed for the “download and delete on server” approach, and various tooling may have limits on it because of that. For example, if you get Gmail to fetch from some other server over POP3, it stops working after there are 50,000 messages. This undocumented limit bit me some years back when I used Gmail in this way, and it didn’t even notify me that fetching had stopped working! It was two weeks before I noticed that no new messages had been coming in from that source.

> POP3 by design creates a continuous local "backup" that contains the entire history. IMAP doesn't.

I refute this. IMAP is a synchronisation protocol. Clients can choose to operate fully online (performing every operation on the server), fully offline (downloading everything from the server and operating locally) or a hybrid (e.g. keep only the last 30 days of messages locally). The protocol, and most clients, are fully capable of creating a continuous local backup containing the entire current state of the server. Is this “the entire history”? Depends on your definition. I’d argue it’s more true of IMAP than it is of POP3. But it’s not like a Git repository showing what happened and when. I know of no email protocol that provides that. But you can make it so yourself, e.g. sync IMAP into a maildir that happens to be a Git repository and commit after every sync. That would have the entire history, at the resolution of IMAP fetch.

Especially since the author says he is moving away from Gmail because "First and foremost, because it's a single point of failure".

The bus factor is a potential issue. Legal terms & conditions probably aren't as the corrupt civil law systems of nearly all polities make legal redress unavailable or hopelessly impractical to all but the wealthy (who probably aren't looking at $10 pa mail). Ordinary people don't read legals, partly out of laziness, but partly from a (correct) judgement that they are irrelevant to them.

And yet we tell each other that if you run a small business it's important to remember you can fire a customer.

I think it's very important for customers to be able to trust the business though. This means the business relationship should have clearly defined terms and both parties should be expected to follow them. Unfortunately, the trend is for services to have take it or leave it terms and to essentially be written to hold them blameless while letting them do whatever they want.

A legally sound strategy, but not one that embodies trust. And I'd argue being able to trust your email provider is very important.

> And I'd argue being able to trust your email provider is very important.

Since a billion people use less trustworthy providers, apparently not.

I'm more worried that PM is still fairly new and in beta. These hobby businesses come and go, and changing one's email is a huge pain. What's saying that PM will be around for 10+ more years, like Gmail has?

This is mostly because changing your email address is a huge pain. Once you're using your own domain, changing email providers is like changing web hosts or domain registrars: Some work but not a big deal.

Or, as an easier solution, a dedicated email forwarding service. I've been using one for about 15 years now and changed the actual email service provider a couple of times just by updating the forwarding address.

Of course then the problem is to identify a reliable email forwarding service that won't go anywhere.

what do you use for email forwarding

It's a non-profit for individuals in my home country specifically, doesn't target international audiences.

The bus factor of PurelyMail is a valid concern and I hope it will be solved in the future.

I've used Fastmail for almost five years now, and I think it's been hit by a bus at least twice :)

A bit tongue in cheek, but always have a back up strategy and move on whatever seems best to you, not to someone else.

There is definitely still an upside from Gmail: The author can redirect his email address to any other service on a whim and all his inbound email comes with. So as long as his archive is backed up he does have a good strategy to restore access.

Also if cost is a concern for Fastmail, there's Mailbox.org which is a very reliable alternative.

They don't provide a practically working implementation of MFA. More like a cargo cult version of it.

Been a customer theirs for 3 years not and they’ve been excellent

> Another reason because of which I'm leaving GMail is because it's kinda slow. A full load with an empty cache takes about 20 seconds on my desktop (good specs, wired Internet connection). Loading a folder with 184 emails takes 2.5 seconds.

I don't understand how Gmail managed to get to this point. One of the original selling points of Gmail was the snappy interface. And it's regressed massively. And it's not like the interface is complicated.

They hire a lot of coders. And coders gonna write code and stick it in there?

It's that slow because there's just so much JavaScript going on.

Indeed, but that's an engineering failure. I even think that Gmail makes sense an SPA. It should be JavaScript. They've just overcomplicated their implementation.

I miss the old, snappy interface, and held out for the longest time until they forced G Suite users to move over some time in 2019.

I heard that GMap is also getting slow, and so is Chrome (although I don't use them personally). I'm curious how the company's culture has shifted over year. Or maybe it hasn't shifted, and there's always a push for feature creep. I don't know. It'd be interesting to hear someone who know how this could happen.

> and so is Chrome

Yeah, I'm shocked how much slower Chrome is than Firefox here in 2020. Never expected this.

For me gmail loads and becomes interactive in under 2 seconds on an empty cache. I did not expect it to be that slow for other people.

That said I do practice inbox zero, so it might just be spending time on loading a lot of mail?

Load times seem very variable. Loading any label (from 10s to 10,000s of emails) is <1 sec for me.

I use the basic HTML version, which is much faster. You can change your default here:


Maybe people have more emails in their accounts. That would explain it partially.

yeah you just reminded me that gmail is the new old hotmail

seduction makes everyone do its best, over time you rot

time for a new challenger ?

It actually is. It has some tweaks done so that no matter what device you on it still runs most functionality.

That's absolutely standard for a webapp though (and really old devices are only supported through the "Basic HTML" view). There's no reason why wide device support should cause it to be slow.

Unaffiliated, I found migadu (https://www.migadu.com/en/index.html) to be extremely easy to set up and having a nice ui to work with. Gives you only the basics but that's all you need.

As they say, storage space is not an issue in the 21st century, so the only differentiator between plans is the only thing that matters: the number of outgoing emails. You can have as many domains, as many aliases and as many addresses as you want, that's not a technical problem so there's no reason it should be a financial distinction.

I've tried Migadu and I much prefer FastMail: https://www.fastmail.com

They have full DNS capabilities and very nice UI (minimal JS, loads super fast).

While I'm happy with fastmail, they aren't minimal JS by any means. The website is snappy though.

I used migadu for a couple of years and they were great initially but over the past 4-5 months, I've experienced really degraded service when accessing email and setting tags, deleting etc.

Over the last month, I started getting login timeouts and that was the last straw. Recently I noticed that they put up an announcement saying that they are running at very high loads due to the COVID-19 situation. I'm not quite sure how people working from home affects normal email (I guess people are emailing a bit more?) but anyways once the announcement went away, I still kept experiencing issues so I migrated my primary email over to fastmail.

They were shuffling services around and I think they had a notice in Feb on their portal to the effect but, yeah, they definitely need to start using a status page and twitter for updates; most customers just want a heads up and be informed of what is happening.

Service is reliable, considering the cost, but communication isn't their forte esp for an email company. :)

They did a full UI update and have a bunch of new features. Some are still buggy but support is responsive. Some of the new cool things they have are identities: different logins to send and receive all to the same mailbox, but externally looks different.

Same experience here.

I would caution everyone considering Migadu. My biggest issue revolves around support — they don’t have a public status page so when the service goes down it’s impossible to know if the issue is on my end or on theirs. They're averaged one big outage (~24 hours) a year over the past 3 years, not counting smaller outages, so this isn’t a generic thought experiment. They don’t respond to most of my emails to support, either. Do not recommend.

In my case, they have always replied to my emails. I think it would be much better if they were actively using their twitter account in order to keep us informed.

Agreed, or proactively email users when they are experiencing severe degradation

I've been using Migadu for a year now. Multiple aliases, works well. Only problem so far: a service interruption of a few hours "due to the COVID-19 situation" apparently. I haven't lost any e-mails but, to be honest, since I'm paying, I don't know if I'll accept a second interruption for a service I'm paying for.

I second this, i've been using it for a few years and it's very easy to setup. Reliable and cheap.

> Copyright © 2016 AdVite GmbH

This sounds like an advertising company. A person's inbox is the holy grail of info about them.

I don't think I want to use this company for my email. Change my mind?

The company is based in Switzerland and is French speaking. Any chance "AdVite" means something different in French?

Apart from that, their website states pretty clearly their privacy policy [1] and other terms [2]. It doesn't look like there is anything shady going on here.

I don't personally use Migadu but I've had it bookmarked as the "service I would probably use if/when the day comes".

[1]: https://www.migadu.com/en/privacy.html [2]: https://www.migadu.com/en/terms.html

Perhaps they pivoted from inception. There are references in their company registration to advertising and marketing though the entire company plan is /very/ broad and encompassed pretty much any IT/online service.

> The company is based in Switzerland and is French speaking. Any chance "AdVite" means something different in French?

No, it doesn't mean something different in French.

It doesn't mean anything in French actually. Nothing related to ads either.

I have been on a similar journey to distance myself from Google and my Google account for a little more than a year now. It's taken longer than I thought to get to where I am now, and now I'm skeptical that I'll ever be completely Google free. My steps so far have been:

1. January 2019: Bought a domain name and registered for FastMail.

2. Progressively over the following months: Every time I got an email sent to my Gmail address, I'd either unregister for that service or change it to my new FastMail powered email address.

3. Early summer 2019: Logged out from my Google Account in Firefox, and created a Firefox Container where I am logged into my Google account in case I would need it

4. Deleted Google Maps app from my phone

5. Logged out from my Google account on the Gmail app on my phone

A few tips I can share:

* If you have this email address registered at FastMail: foo@bar.com, emails sent to x@foo.bar.com (where x can be anything) will be forwarded do foo@bar.com. I found this very useful when using it to sign up for various services.

* You can register as many aliases as you want in FastMail. For example I have my personal email address be firstname@domain.com. I also have inbox@domain.com registered as an alias, so if I sign up for some online service I can use service@inbox.domain.com as my email address.

The things that I've found hardest to migrate are:

* iMessage. I've used my Gmail address as the primary iMessage handle, so that's what people have been sending messages to. Not sure what'll happen if I remove it from my Apple ID.

* GitHub. I've used my Gmail address as my email address in Git for years. Removing the Gmail address from my profile in GitHub removes the connection between those commits and my profile. For now I have it as a secondary email address (or whatever it's called on GitHub) for this sake.

* YouTube. I want my viewing history, channel subscriptions, etc. Maybe I should create a new Google Account just for YouTube?

> A full load with an empty cache takes about 20 seconds on my desktop

Looking at the typical Amazon concern that "longer load times cost millions in sales" that you hear, it's crazy to think that gmail doesn't measure the uncached load time (or they do and are happy with 20 seconds).

Anecdata: I mostly use my phone for email, so most of the time I load the gmail web interface the cache is cold and it takes this long. It bothers me the one a month I load it.

I imagine the logic is that people usually keep Gmail open in a tab which might be reloaded once per day. So people aren't likely to switch email providers because of 20 seconds a day.

That said, I've found Gmail to be pretty sluggish even after loading, so I use it via email clients with my other accounts.

My Gmail tab that I leave pinned regularly loses connection and stops updating. It seems more and more these days Google things just break when you don't use Chrome. Using Gmail with Firefox hasn't felt fast in a long while.

This seems quite a common complaint, but gmail has always been pretty snappy for me. I wonder what causes the variability?

"The once a month I load it" they don't care about you, you're not the typical paying enterprise use case.

The sad thing like others have mentioned is that most people don’t own their own email address. Their address is tied to the client.

Controlling the address is key to switching services and not being shut off for ToS violations.

I wrote about it more here https://meagher.co/own-your-email/

You ditched Gmail for... Gsuite. Is this a joke?

The post is about “owning” your email address so you can move, not moving to a new provider.

As the recent changes to .org show, though, after a while the domain owns you rather than the other way around!

I am trying to move away from gsuite. The thing with forwarding from there is that it goes through spam there first, meaning you really have to check it (my accountant screwed up their spf records recently, leading to a lot of confusion). Using the account directly sucks, you have constant switching and gsuite accounts can't do things like family sharing.

Forwarding services, even implementing srs still can't rewrite dkim, so you get weird reply to addresses than again often trigger things ending up in spam.

I think the best solution while keeping everything together in the Google ecosystem (drive, docs, calendar, etc.) is probably an external provider you do pop from to your standard Google account, then offlineimap style backup Gmail somewhere else. Then you still have arbitrary delays in fetching!

Basically, everything is terrible.

> The thing with forwarding from there is that it goes through spam there first, meaning you really have to check it (my accountant screwed up their spf records recently, leading to a lot of confusion).

If you're on paid G Suite, you can tweak the Default routing setting [1] in Google Admin to forward all emails to a different domain.

I believe this bypasses Gmail's spam filter (Google might reject some mail during SMTP — I've never had a problem with mail delivery to Google though, unlike to Hotmail).

[1] https://support.google.com/a/answer/2368153?hl=en

Huh? If you're trying to move off of G Suite, why not just change your domain MX to your new mail provider? Google doesn't need to get involved at all.

Let’s hope handshake.org will solve this problem. The difficult part to overcome is adoption.

I got your point Tom and I agree with you 100% that owning your address is just the first big step.

email is such a critical part of my digital life that is stability and convenience are the critical factors which can overweight some shortcomings in features and UI.

So the additional arguments for staying with Gmail are: 1. Stability. Google as a company is not going anywhere. Can you say the same about smaller companies? 2. Backend infrastructure. Google has some serious backend managed very professionally. I am pretty comfortable with my email data being safe with them. 3. Security. My guess is that the Google security team has more people than the whole development team of Purelymail or even Fastmail. They know how to resist attacks from state actors, massive DDOS, etc. 4. Spam filters. Having 1 billion active users Gmail has a unique ability to detect spam. Smaller providers, no matter how good are their antispam algorithms are, just do not have access to such amount of data.

That said, I share some of your concerns about Gmail and thinking about moving to ProtonMail.

Considering the importance of email that you mention: What is your plan if google suddenly bans your account?

Google might not go anywhere but your access to it might. And when their automation directs them to ban an account, there is essentially no recourse-- they won't even respond to you.

any provider can ban your account. my recourse is to switch my domain. I do not use @gmail.com address - I use my own domain with google mail.

I considered doing that, but decided against it because domain names are rented and not permanently yours. If I ever stop paying, make a mistake, or pass away, anyone can grab it and password-recover their way in all my accounts... I'm not sure if it's a good trade-off...

> If I ever stop paying, make a mistake, or pass away, anyone can grab it and password-recover their way in all my accounts... I'm not sure if it's a good trade-off...

If you have the cash available to do so, the best practice is to renew your domain for 10 years, and then add an extra year every year.

I'm surprised there aren't nonprofits that an individual can entrust a lump sum payment to, to keep our domains renewed for tens or hundreds of years.

Sure, but people who are using free Gmail accounts (not you, of course) have limited recourse if they are locked out. If you're paying for something directly at least you can expect to be treated like a customer.

For me there are two distinct worries and corresponding solutions. I pay 50 bucks to fastmail every year for the peace of mind that I won't lose access to my data. I pay an 8 dollar registration fee every year for the peace of mind that I'll never have to change my address.

> I do not use @gmail.com address - I use my own domain with google mail.

That is key, and really good advice. People with that setup are massively better off.

this discussion inspired me to write down my thoughts on email setup: https://medium.com/@krokodil42/a-quick-guide-to-your-persona...

One problem that I wish all of these “Move Away from Gmail” articles would address is how to update all of the websites you’ve already created accounts on to your new email address. I’ve had my own email address for several years, but I still keep the old gmail one around because I’ve found that many websites do not allow you to change your email address. This makes it problematic if you have a decades worth of accounts tied to gmail.

I just progressively went through all my accounts in my password manager, and changed the email. I used my Gmail account to register to everything for more than a decade, but since I also kept a complete list of all my accounts, it wasn't an issue to change it one by one.

I still have my Gmail account, it just sits empty (in case). There's no need to delete it.

This is also true for sites that use Google accounts for OAuth. Your account has a one to one mapping to your Google account.

You can keep the old address and auto-forward emails from the old to the new. I think that's the best you can manage.

I just kept my Gmail account but receive virtually zero email on it.

Question for people who have emails at their own domain: what do you pick as your email address? Do you typically use first@firstlast.com? firstlast@firstlast.com? first@last.com? me@firstlast.com? Do you typically use multiple accounts?

It took me a while to figure this out but I've now settled with the following:

- mail@firstlast.tld for personal emails directed at me only and written by a human being, i.e. emails that warrant my personal response

- <SomeServiceIsignedUpfor>@firstlast.tld for automated emails from services like Amazon, Facebook, eBay, HN, …. These are usually computer-generated emails that don't warrant a response, so they are merely notifications.

The neat thing about this approach is that:

a) the list of email aliases contains all the services I've signed up for, ever

b) I can easily stop a service from sending me emails by simply deleting the alias. In particular, if an email address leaks to spammers, I simply delete it.

c) I can distinguish between personal and non-personal email and can prioritize accordingly. I look at my personal emails more often than at my non-personal ones.

Do you have a method for quickly creating new aliases on the fly?

My setup is nearly the same. I use two domains such as firstlast.tld and genericwords.tld.

Genericwords.tld has umbrella aliases for social, apps, subscriptions, orders, etc. I have rules setup up per umbrella alias to delete after 30 days, or always mark as read, or never mark as read.

I originally had service/site specific aliases in mind for easy deletion, but for my setup this creates a layer of friction that makes it quite cumbersome.

I considered umbrella+servicename aliases but those are not always guaranteed to be accepted.

Yes, umbrella+servicename sometimes causes issues as I had to learn the hard way, too.

As for me, I use PostfixAdmin (https://github.com/postfixadmin/postfixadmin) to add aliases. Certainly not the quickest method but fairly quick I'd say. Clearly, it'd be even nicer if my password manager created an email alias for new accounts automatically.

Just use a catchall and you have to do nothing.

You also get more spam, sent to sales@domain, john@domain, alex@domain...

Never once got spam on an email I didn't give out.

For a while I had first@last.email but I got tired of paying for the last.email domain, so I now use contact@firstlast.com where I also use firstlast.com for my website.

Also, I have a few other emails like accounts@firstlast.com (for signing up to websites), travel@firstlast.com, business@firstlass.com, etc.

The way I have it set up is a wildcard *@firstlast.com and filters to move username@firstlast.com to a folder called username. So I can come up with new email addresses on the spot for specific purposes. Like when I go to the doctor I might give them health@firstlast.com

It depends on the availability of your preferred domain.

Ideally I'd have used first@last.com. But since it wasn't available I use fl@firstlast.com (fl are the initials).

The reason I use my initials instead of "me@" is because some clients show that username as the sender, and it didn't look good to have the sender be "me".

My domain is something that I've had for a long time and it's my preferred nick online (rolisz). The email address I give out to humans is then first@domain_name

I have kind of a long last name and combined with the fact that many have said to only use .com for professional purposes (general public isn't so familiar with many other tlds), I do:

firstname@firstname[first character of my last name].com

Although... I do have firstname@sdan.io but unsure how "professional" that is, so I use it for other newsletters/subscriptions

I had a few email addresses for a while, and the one that I stuck with was created with the goal of being as short as possible (since back then, I had to type my email into sites on my phone a lot). I was lucky to get my initials as a domain, so I made it <z@zjm.me>. 8 characters – haven't seen a shorter one yet.

For my personal domain, I use me@chrismorgan.info. *@chrismorgan.info will reach me, and occasionally I give out addresses with a different localpart, either privately (for things that require an email address and I grudgingly agree to) or publicly (for a particular project, for convenient automatic categorisation).

I have first@firstlast.com I also have mynickname.com

I use the mynickname.com one to signup to services and firstlast.com for personal.

I have first@arbitraryword as well as first@last.dev

first@firstlast.com for me. Happy FastMail user too.

mail@first.tld private + first@last.com business

Use a time machine and get first@last.com

If you're time machining, firstinitial@first.com is the way to go!

Purely mail does look like a very attractive mail host, filling an interesting niche between the SMTP sever you get from your ISP (or someone like zoneout from zoneedit, which is $1/month for up to 50 outgoing email per day) and a full on webmail like fastmail.

Honestly for me the $50/year to fastmail to worry about worrying about my mail is worth it, and their webmail/mobile clients are great if that is your thing.

Really the main thing here is to move your mail over to a custom domain, and these guys really make that a lot cheaper. $15/year for the domain and another $10/year for mail is absolutely worth it to remove your mail provider as a single point of failure in your email.

PS - if you are looking for a good android mail client, I have had good luck with K-9. It takes a bit of getting used to when migrating over from the built in android mail, but if you stick with it and figure out how to configure it correctly it works great. The main configuration changes I had to make were putting a shortcut for 'move to archive' and getting android configured to let it run in the background so notifications work correctly.

I love fastmail, I use them for my email and my DNS servers, it's so easy. I understand some people want to run their own email, but ever since you have to set up SPF records and all kinds of other shit, and you still rush Gmail black holing your emails, I'd rather pay 50 bucks a year.

Gandi may also be an option here - a domain registered with them comes with two free mailboxes, each with a few GBs of space and calendar support.

(Yes, yes, this is the same company that lost the data on their cloud servers.)

Gandi is what I use as well and have for years. I follow all these new up-and-coming email services, but I've never had a reason to switch.

I have been using it for few years now and so far have been reasonably happy. Works fine with Thunderbird, on my phone however i have recently noticed a substantial delay in getting new emails, sometimes even more than couple of hours...

I think they eventually restored that data.

They are missing 2FA which is a deal-breaker for many

And they don't support DKIM. That's my main complaint with them so far.

mhm, are they good? I have my domains there, but never considered using them for my emails. are catchall emails possible?

Keeping years and years of old emails on the server is a bad idea whilst subjected to the third party doctrine, which holds that the government snoops can access your emails without a warrant due to the fact that you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy if you are storing your emails on a hosted server.


How often do you need the mails from years ago? Archive them to a local mailbox and include it in your normal backups.

Sure, but backups would still be an issue and there's also a copy on the sender outbox or recipient's inbox.

Anyone know of a good alternative for Google Voice? This is the stickiest service for me; there are lots of email options but it doesn't seem there's many services that offer a phone alias with call forwarding and a full web interface for not only voicemail but texting. Rolling my own through Twilio or something seems like an option but then I'm back to paying per text message or other event (I don't mind paying for a good service along these lines, but I'm reluctant to get into a metered situation).

The closest I've found is https://jmp.chat/

I'm waiting for voip.ms to enable mms support then I'll probably roll something with asterisk. Although I saw https://github.com/zoenb/mx-puppet-voipms the other day.

Yeah, JMP supports picture messaging and short codes, so works for most SMS-based 2FA. Group texting support will be completed in the next month or two, which would give JMP feature-parity with Google Voice. And you can run your own instance if you don't trust the one at https://jmp.chat/

I would love to have a trustworthy alternative to using GV for all my SMS 2FA needs. I switched to custom domain email a while ago, but definitely feel I am still way too exposed to Google in that area.

Rolling my own through Twilio is something I've been considering as well, so I'd also be interested if anyone knows of a good alternative.

Check out OpenPhone.

I've been using iCloud email for more than a decade, no problems, and much better privacy. It allows 3 aliases per account (that you can replace) without exposing your primary address unlike Google's primary+alias suffix, so you can have up to 4 addresses per account.

I also don't think they require you to give them your phone number.

It really saddens me when I see topics like this and just doing it yourself doesn't come up as an option.

Running a mail server is not difficult, and I firmly believe that deliverability is quite solvable. This was basic sysadmin 101 about a decade ago, one skill of many that's getting lost in the S/I/PaaS ecosystem.

Two years ago I felt the same way.

Then I ran a mail server for our small family business. And of course, we had DKIM, SPF and DMARC. At first, everything was great.

Then we started having bizarre deliverability problems to a growing provider of corporate emails. So after trying a number of solutions, we settled on SES. All was great again.

Then we started having weird deliverability problems that resulted in bounced emails to an accountancy firm. One of the public IPs ended up on a blacklist. This got fixed fairly swiftly. Things were good again.

Then it happened again.

Yes, deliverability can be solved – the question is for how long. Maybe we chose poorly with SES, but it seems other providers have had problems. I ultimately concluded that it's really not worth the hassle, and we ended up with the email provider that was causing us the bulk of the problems. It was a difficult pill to swallow, and I realize that I've done my part in making the problem worse. But sometimes, life is too short.

The world was different a decade ago. We didn't have overzealous spam filters by default that self-reinforce their awful decisions. I appreciate that spam is a really hard problem. But the solution we have is worse than the problem: we've just made an oligarchy of email, where not even all the big players have the clout to keep themselves out of blacklists all of the time.

And with all that said, for a personal email server, I still might self-host – but I'd be prepared for emails to not get reliably delivered.

Out of interest, were you using a dedicated IP address with SES? As I understand it you've doomed to deliverability issues unless you have your own IP address which nobody else is sending from.

That said, by no means am I claiming that email deliverability is easy!

If you’re a small-time sender, having your own IP address is probably actually a bad thing, because now the IP address never builds up enough positive reputation.

Interesting. What kind of volume do you think you need in order to build up that reputation?

It may not be difficult, but it's not trivial, either. It's an enormous time sink. The older you get, the less free time you have. Is this how you want to spend it?

Running a (1) mail server is not enough. You need fault tolerance.

And then of course spam filtering, DKIM and whatnot, maybe a nice web interface, ...

Running an SMTP server is easy. The rest? Not so much.

Rolling your own is great. However, it's not for most people and requires constant monitoring and maintenance.

For personal mail?

I don't need fault tolerance if it is going to be down for 10 hours I don't care. If I run it I am going to fix it anyway and retry registration process for whatever I needed mail.

Spam filtering use 10minute mail or something for crap that you don't care. Give your mail address to people and companies you actually want to deal with. Better just keep some spam box on free provider where you sign up for crap.

I don't care about web interface I have multiple boxes anyway so I have to use client app where I can see all stuff at once. (why people think you can have only ONE "THE ONE" mail address for everything?)

DKIM and stuff does not matter if you send ONE EMAIL A MONTH or two. Mostly what people do is that they receive stuff (registration mails for crap).

That said, if you send out bulk mail like in 1k a day you really need DKIM, SPF, DMARC and stuff.

If you run company email server it might be better to do it with email provider or get marketing to send mass mails with mailchimp or sendgrid.

When you want to run mail server for friends and family you are just being silly and if there will be 10 hours downtime you would not care about... Guess what your brother in law wanted to sign up for free month april on por..ekhm...pluralsight and he is going to be mad at you (and you should not tell that to your sister).

> DKIM and stuff does not matter if you send ONE EMAIL A MONTH or two.

DKIM matters if you want to not have to tell people to check their spam box whenever you correspond with them via email.

Yes if you send 1k mails a day, if you send 1 a day or 1 a week even google will pass it through no problem.

I send all kinds of test stuff to my own gmail accounts and other providers. Unless you send really a lot email or unless someone marks you as a spam it is not an issue.

Blocking spammers is about rate limiting, if you are "nigerian prince" - one email a day - is not going to help you finding a person who wants to help you. Ideally you would like to send emails to everyone at once to find that one special person who wants to help you.


You don't need fault tolerance. It's nice, but not necessary. How often is your VPS or colocated server going to go down, anyway? Email is meant to deal with transient issues.

Web interface? Again, you don't need that at all.

Constant monitoring? No. Maintenance? Certainly not constant.

I briefly looked into running my own mail server, but from what I've heard, sometimes you run into issues with deliverability, which are quite hard to fix.

Otherwise I run plenty of own infra, both on VPS's on DigitalOcean and on my home server.

Static IPs aren't getting easier to acquire.

You only need a public IP, not necessarily static. My ISP offers public IPs via pppoe and dynamic DNS. I was able to install my mail server with docker-mailserver [1] without much effort. There are some quirks, but it's worth trying out.

[1]: https://github.com/tomav/docker-mailserver

I've been considering doing a similar thing but I'm in a different situation with Gmail. I hopped on to their business domains when they were initially released (and free) and I'm still grandfathered into their free plan.

I use the account as my primary Google account which includes purchased Android apps, and I make pretty heavy use of that Google Drive with several external organizations.

I'd like to move just my email away to my own hosting, but I'm worried Google might do something sneaky when they realize my MX domains no longer point at them.

I haven't herd of anyone attempting to migrate just their email from a Google on a custom domain while trying to maintain the rest of their account and that fear is the only thing keeping me on Google.

In my experience (G Suite Basic) it doesn't do any MX record checks, I still have a domain "active" that had its MX records removed (expired domain) almost 2 years ago.

Niiiccceee. That does make me a bit more confident about it.

You can actually get a google account with any email (hosted on your own platform, etc.)

I’m in the same boat - set up the free service with my own domain for the family a long time ago.

Quite frankly I’d love to ditch it entirely because Google frequently makes crazy stuff inaccessible as a result - I can’t use Android screen time limits for the kids, I can’t sign up for Google music family plan.

Problem is - I have loads of purchases on the accounts and there’s no way at all to convert them to standard Google accounts and no way at all to transfer the purchases. It’s maddening...

I made this same move a couple years ago and still have no problem logging into my account.

> Technically, I could use GMail with my own domain, but only by signing up for a business GSuite account.

Actually it is possible to use your own domain with even a regular Gmail account (although not straight-forward), and it works well -- I know because that's how I have set it up.

Requirements: own domain with MX records pointing to your server(s) running SMTP software

Receiving: SMTP server forwards to gmail account, SRS (Sender Rewriting Scheme) takes care so SPF doesn't fail, DKIM just works.

Sending: you configure Gmail to use your SMTP server for sending.

Gmail side: add email alias and verify it, the "reply" function is even smart enough to use the correct alias depending on the "TO"

Besides the bonus of "owning" your email while still using the goodies of Gmail, having "catch-all", being able to easily migrate if shit hits the fan, there were also some other things I didn't realize until doing this:

You can save a local copy of the emails on your server (nice extra backup).

You have access to email logs, if you are worried about reliability you can just check it on-the-fly, you don't have to wait for the "email delivery failed" notification.

Wow I didn't know that! Do you know if there are more detailed tutorials for this?

I guess it depends on how detailed you want it, but maybe Google's own help page already helps?


Wow, that's quite interesting!

Moving away from Gmail isn't that hard. It's on my list forever, but an Subscription to O365 and an IMAP migration is both great because:

A: You're paying Microsoft for a service, and that has many more features than gMail.

B: I believe Microsoft is more transparent than Google.

C: You remove the identity (IAM) part of Google from your Email and separate yourself from Google's Ecosystem.

D: Finally doing an IMAP migration gives you an independent copy of all your email to date. You can also download all your data from Google too, through some obscure settings page.

Having your own domain. Enable SPF. Enable DMARC/DKIM if you dare. Enable hard failure on SPF.

All that you need.

Running your own server is HARD there are projects that make it easier like mailinabox, but it is HARD and annoying work. If you ever want to see how annoying it can be, load up shodan.io and just look up postfix CVE + postfix version numbers.

Granted O365/Exchange is it's own thing and can become a headache, but there is tons of support available and it's meant to be portable and easy to move away from.

gMail is Google. Google is designed to trap you in forever. :(

> You can also download all your data from Google too, through some obscure settings page.

If anyone is looking for how to do this: google.com/takeout

Also IMAPsync works well for migrating email into another provider.

I, too, want to switch from using Google services.

I find it hard. I have hundreds of website accounts, all registered through Gmail. I don't even know all the websites I have accounts on. Switching all to use another mail address, would be at least very tedious and would take a very long time.

Also I have many contacts mailing me on my Gmail address. Making all those people use another address would be hard.

I can redirect Gmail probably, but that would mean still using Gmail.

Also, using Google's services is very convenient. And the only other provider which the same level of integration and which has e-mail, online docs, calendar, storage is Microsoft. And you have to pay if you want to use docs.

Maybe I'll use different providers for different services, but I 'll lose the integration.

And Google tries to make your life harder if you are not using Chrome and you are not logged in into Google account. You' ll see lots of recaptchas triggered if you use Firefox or Edge and you'll get the bot treatment if you try to access next pages in Google search.

> Also I have many contacts mailing me on my Gmail address. Making all those people use another address would be hard.

What i did is, i automatically forwarded all incoming Gmail emails to my new new@domain.com address. Then when someone sends me an e-mail to my old Gmail account, i simply reply to it from my new new@domain.com. That way contacts will gradually/eventually update me in their contact lists... it worked really well.

> I have hundreds of website accounts, all registered through Gmail. I don't even know all the websites I have accounts on.

It doesn't matter, just keep using them and register all new accounts with your new e-mail address. You can slowly update your email address in old accounts over time, Gmail will stay accessible anyway.

> Ability to use multiple aliases. I want to have site_name@rolisz.ro, besides the main address I will give out, but still have everything come in to my main inbox.

It's not an alias, but you can effectively get this for free with any mail provider by using a plus sign (+). For a really extreme (and awesome) example, see:


He suggests using emails like: aorth+news.ycombinator.com+2020-04-12@example.com. The benefits are that you get a lightweight alias that you can filter on, but you also get a canary that tells you which site sold your email address when you start getting spam to it! :)

Sites have started being smart about it. I also now know of services which won’t allow you to create an account if the string contains the service name in it.

I've seen sites reject for having the plus and strip it on submit when I tried this :/ so not a perfect solution

This is some good info, I personally still use GMail and used to use GSuite. Migrating from GSuite -> Gmail was a nightmare in of itself, but I found a service that helped me keep my custom domain emails and no longer feel like a second class citizen. So even if someday Google decides to kill my Account, I can just reroute my domain to a new service with not issue.

The service I used is ImprovMX. YOu just setup your DNS records, and they handle your domain emails. Any number of aliases and redirects you need. Their free tier is very generous with 10 domains, and I think 15-20 aliases per domain. Super easy to get my family on there for our family domain and my other custom domains.

I then made a new standard gmail account, migrated everything I could, repurchased apps, and then just forwarded my email to the gmail account after detaching it from GSuite. It was fairly painless on this front.

You can do email alias sending of emails with any provider, but ImprovMX has SMTP services now that get rid of that pesky "on behalf of" label of your emails. It is part of their Pro feature set, but that's just $9 a month for a ton of features and peace of mind. Full DKIM support and the such.

You can even setup a custom domain as a login email for your GMail and most other services, so you can login with it just like you would with GSuite.

Now I know this is a post about moving away from Google, but this could be a stepping stone, because once you do all this. If i decided I want to use Fastmail, PurelyMail, Outlook, Yahoo, or whatever the hell else I want. I can just change the target email in ImprovMX and it goes to the right place. The rest is all just import/export from gmail.

You can just GYOB to make detailed Maildir format backups of Gmail, and either restore them into another gmail account, or find a way to import them into your new service using similar tools.

Or just keep a local backup, use NotMuch or a NotMuch UI like Neit Viel to search/lookup your old emails, and start fresh in your new place.

One little gotchya if you do this. Gmail saw the initial set of ImprovMX emails as spam or fraud for a few emails as they would come from 1 email, but had ImprovMX redirect info. SO be sure to double check spam folders for a a few days for miscategorized emails. Once the spam blocker learns ImprovMX is ok, it will start working as normal. (Thought I think ImprovMX improved something on their end as I have even seen this particular thing happen in a while.


Why not use google.com/takeout to download it instead?

sorry for the late response, but reason is you can't do a restore with takeout. I can backup from GSuite, and restore into consumer gmail. Its how I did my migration. Or any other combination. It also backs up in Maildir format, which is more compatible with more tools than in mbox format that takeout gives us. So it's just a more versatile tool. You can always convert mbox to maildir, there are tools like mb2md. but ive had issues where it mangles HTML emails and images.

That looks very useful, thanks.

I'm a happy user of runbox myself. I learned about it here on HN, in fact. Good security and privacy, reasonably priced, and a quite good webmail client (I think – I haven't used it extensively). Of course, it helps that they're based in Norway, where I live.

The only thing that makes sense is getting your own domain first. There after you can look into email providers, but to avoid lock in, first you need your own address, owned by you. Only by then, you can rent the email service into it if you want, or run your own.

Then again, that's potentially an additional attack surface that you need to be mindful of: https://medium.com/@N/how-i-lost-my-50-000-twitter-username-...

Can anyone recommend tools for removing email duplicates? I have a mess of archived email from different sources I intend one day to consolidate onto a decent IMAP provider. Over the years I've done all kinds of forwarding from one account to another, been in & out of gmail,etc. It's a bit of a mess, and consolidation would result in me using much more storage than I need because of dupes.

A trustworthy deduping tool (whether operating via IMAP, or on local maildirs) would be useful. I've seen a couple around when I've searched in the past, but would like a recommendation from experience before running something over some gigs of archived mail.

I use mutt for that which modifies local maildir so it's super fast. Commands are: "D~=$". Then it's just a matter of syncing local changes back e.g. with mbsync.

Thanks. I suppose I should take another look at mutt. When I have in the past it's seemed a bit overwhelming with features & config. Does that command remove dupes in a single folder or a hierarchy?

It works in a single folder only. It's actually a set of the following commands:

  - D tells mutt to delete messages by pattern
  - ~= is pattern which selects all the dupes in current folder
  - $ finalizes the command
I think this [1] is where I learned about it and there's also a handy folder hook for mutt which automatically removes duplicates when you open the folder.

[1]: http://promberger.info/linux/2008/03/31/mutt-delete-duplicat...

Thanks. Could prove useful.

Some weeks ago I decided to be brave and build my own mail server. With a great tutorial [1] I was able to do this in a few hours and learned a ton about email along the way. Because today it is possible to setup a lot of features via DNS I got no problems with email being marked as spam.

But I can understand this is not for everyone. Personally I got some problems with DNS misconfigurations and file access rights at first but got it working perfectly after a day or two.

[1] https://workaround.org/ispmail/buster/

I moved away from gmail, as I started my own business, the webshop https://kaninbutikken.dk , to my own mail. So now I both have a personal mail and a business email. However, I have some issues with the fact that many of my mails from my new emails end in the spam filter. I cannot figure out what I can do to make sure that my future mails doesn't end in the spam filter. I didn't have this problem, when I used my gmail. Do any of you guys have the same issues?

It's most likely not setting up your SPF record. Most email servers reject email that do not contain an SPF DNS record.

Then there's also general reputation, and blocking non US TLD's.

It depends, you really need to have the other party check their email server logs or do a mail trace to find out WHY but then comes the chicken and egg - how can you contact someone via email if their server is automatically purging your communications.

This post came at a very opportune time as I was having some issues recently with my email provider and was looking for alternatives. I own my main email address but I do have a few other domains which I would like to have mailboxes for.

Anyways, after some consideration I went with fastmail for my primary email but I will definitely check out purelymail for my other low-traffic domains!

Of course - this also led me into the rabbit hole of realizing that my email is not backed up anywhere :)

I switched from Gmail to Fastmail a year ago and I really miss how Gmail filtered things into primary/social/updates/forums. I feel overwhelmed with a single inbox, and can’t possibly keep up with my own custom filters. The result is I’m likely to miss something important. Does anyone have a solution for this?

Do you feel like you're getting something out of all those email updates? My solution was to simply cut down the amount of incoming mail. Nowadays I receive about three emails a day, with some days of zero emails in between. Feels like a good number to me personally.

Try to use aliases. Give out news@domain.com when signing up for a newspaper, gaming@domain.com for gaming accounts and so on. In this way, a simple filter for incoming address will cover a lot of different email senders.

I’ve had a great experience with Purelymail, though I haven’t figured out how to complete the DKIM and DMARC setup.

When I was evaluating options for hosting an email address from my own domain, two things sold me on Purelymail: - special characters allowed in the name, like "~" - the pay-as-you-go pricing

I set up a account and was considering it for an intended email consolidation. But Roundcube is hopeless - keyboard shortcuts are a 'planned' feature. That makes Roundcube a pre-alpha product in my view.

This really seems like a bad solution to me.

Any domain name provider will allow you to create personalized mail addresses for a total cost of around 10$/y.

Then -> imap -> Thunderbird.

And you're set for life with a nearly unlimited set of features.

It's easy to backup.

It can sync between different computers and mobile phones.

I don't get why he would chose something else.

Does that setup allow you to check mails from multiple computers and phones?

Of course. You can setup your IMAP mailbox on any device. You can even use your Gmail or Apple Mail Apps to set it up on your phone.


If you know nodejs pretty well, try https://wildduck.email

Unaffiliated BTW. Just find that their storage saves space compare to Maildir and pretty scalable compare postfix. It also allows unicode email addresses.

I'd recommend at least getting your own email domain so you are still able to use Gmail's interface, but could easily switch to something else if necessary. That's what I did with Pobox – reliable and affordable solution for that (and even more).

It seems like G Suite meets all the requirements listed on the blog post, but is not discussed. G Suite or Office 365 also work well as personal email providers - they fulfill all the requirements mentioned such as a custom domain, text search, and IMAP access.

The author talks about the risks of single point of failure being Google/a Google account, and their lengthy and regularly amended Terms of Service. This would arguably be true of Office 365 as well.

Keep in mind that in G-Suite you can also enable email routing which will enable you to create full backups of emails


> These options include rejecting, quarantining, or delivering email with modifications. For example, you can route mail to Gmail and an external server or set policies that vary by organizational unit.

That way Gmail becomes a single point of failure like any other service; you will only lose the mail which didn't arrive during the outage, which will then usually be resent at a later time. But you wouldn't care that much if they lock you out, since you then can change the MX records to point to the external server.

Indeed, it does. Until suddenly it doesn't. The posted article explains with examples how it happens to some people.

GSuite has some quirks when it comes to personal usages. For example, you can't use it for Family Groups, which allows me to share a YouTube Premium account with my wife.

Pretty sure a PurelyMail account will also not work for these things.

I think a Google Account linked to a non-GSuite account might work for Family Groups.

Sure, but I will keep my GMail account - for YouTube Premium. But at least if it gets banned for whatever reason, I lose only my Youtube history and nothing more.

G-Suite charges by mailbox address. It is possible to have a catchall, but when you send other emails from it you sometimes get the dreaded "on behalf of ..." tag.

G suite is pretty expensive for email, presumably because you can only buy it bundled up with all the other stuff.

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