There are mean people on the internet :(
I've worked at a web hosting company before - not a major operation at a time, but we did enough business to staff one floor of an office building with our support and management people.
Something like 25%-50% of our support volume was spammers and scammers trying to sneak under the radar and get us to restore their service after we'd blacklisted them. A significant portion of these were using stolen credit cards.
Honestly, good luck - but you're going to find that giving away something for free to other people is very different than running it for yourself right about the first time something goes wrong and a few thousand very angry people want to know what's up with their email.
(and as an aside, I really think good email service is worth paying for, and having been woken in the middle of the night to fix things that customers never even noticed - I know that it won't stay surprisingly pleasant forever)
Okay; Which jurisdiction?
When Google App stopped providing their free custom email service (which is fair enough), I asked a question here to see if there were any alternatives and basically there wasn't (there were a few similar ones, but not as convenient as what Google offered) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5179478
Of course there are issues I think that pawnmail needs to consider, but it definitely feels like this might be that alternative.
Email services provided on the side by hosting companies (or worse, registrars) don't measure up to Gmail or Fastmail. And Gmail is what people will be comparing it to.
You can also try Yandex mail for domains (1000 users and unlimited storage), but you will have to use Google translate to add domain - unlike mail itself, this pages are in Russian only.
2) "we currently have enough funds to support 226 more days of hosting"
I know it's possible for 1 and 2 to not contradict each other, but it certainly gives the appearance of being a potentially unsustainable service, and thus a potentially unreliable service. If I'm going to set up an email hosting account, I'm going to want to expect it to be available for the long haul.
1) "free for as long as the service exists"
2) "we currently have enough funds to support 226 more days of hosting given that no one supports the server costs
Hosting a simple email service such as Pawnmail is cheaper than the cost of hosting many individual mail servers for each domain, so the incentive to donate exists as long as individuals and companies value the service. Being financially open is an attempt to fix the problem met by Google and Microsoft, who have suddenly discontinued their free custom domain email hosting services within the last year.
Curious. What does the $0.30 figure take into account? Is it just server and IT or does it also include customer service and other administrative work?
The figure does not include administration, but donations may be used for human resources. After a reasonable amount is distributed, funds will go into the server budget, thus increasing the "days remaining" meter.
I will soon summarize this on the home page.
Last thing I saw with "free forever" on it was called Evony and it used to advertise all over my Facebook a few years ago.
I'd genuinely like more businesses like this to be up front with commercial plans just to give reassurance to its customers.
Is the only option to have multiple accounts?
My ex business partner would argue with me about this sometimes. "You always take the piss out of my daily coffee [which cost £2, mostly to pay for coffee shop overheads]", he'd say. "You're so tight. But you make us pay for hosting and email, like it's a good idea. We could use Google for free." I'd just shrug noncommittaly as I supped my tea [total cost about £0.03, mostly to pay for electricity]. How could he not see? Over time these free services always get rolled back, sometimes without any warning.
(Obviously that happened to Google Apps, or whatever. Maybe that was while we were working together... I don't remember. I wasn't really paying attention, because I didn't have to worry about it. That's what you pay for.)
Disclaimer: I have nothing against Gandi in particular. Just curious about the prevailing convention as I always seem to be behind times...
Why? I'm with a small web shop for nearly 10 years for my private site, and happy as can be. You might say I'm putting all eggs into one basket, but for me it's rather a single point of failure, which so far never failed me. I expect if they, god forbid, ever go down or get bought, to be as gentlemanly as humanly and technically possible about that. I know you'll have to take my word for that, but let's just grant those things; so what am I missing that I should be worrying about?
(None of this is a comment on the pawnmail service itself, which I'm sure is fine - just whether it, or any equivalent service, represents good value, all things considered, at that price point.)
Since they allow 10 users with each 5gb inbox that means I have 10 different inboxes that can be firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
No custom url? Does that mean no custom domain allowed?
I work for a hosting company, and one time we did a promotion where you could get a VPS for about a dollar for a month. This boosted our sales tremendously during the promotion, but all the boosted sales were abuse accounts and none of them renewed.
Free or nearly free == here comes abuse.
HOWEVER, there are many issues with this site that will cause messages to get marked as spam with a high frequency (including my innocuous test message to a gmail address).
1) There's no recommendation to setup SPF for your domain. This is the big one. SPF is a big deal, and not having any spf will give you a higher spam score.
2) The creator of this service did not setup a reverse dns entry for the ip to the mx domain. There's no reverse dns at all (even though he's hosted with ramnode and ramnode supports rdns).
3) The creator does not allow you to add dkim signing keys; you can't dkim sign your messages.
The above factors ensure that google has a high chance of marking you as spam, as well as any other sufficiently strict spam software. amavisd did not mark it as spam for me, giving it only a spam score of a little over 2, though I have mine configured at a high threshold compared to many people.
Because of the above reasons, I wouldn't consider using this. The lack of a rdns entry is especially unforgivable because it's so easy and helps with your spam rating so much. The other factors are all additional complexity because the owner of the domain (user) would have to do additional work beyond the dns record, but those should also be there.
Perhaps the creator will see this and improve these problems.
However, you have a good point. It would probably not be the ideal name for a service like to GMail, in which all users live under the @gmail.com domain.
The parent comment is not correct in thinking that matters, but they are correct that it will be identified as pawnmail, just not as part of the email address itself.
Also people that care about their email, (should be/ are) willing to pay for it. Then again, people that care will most likely host their own.
This is an interesting idea. I was going to set up an email server on my VPS with just SMTP that auto-forwarded everything to my gmail. But this might be simpler.
For the time being, you may take advantage of Gmail's POP3/IMAP support to download emails hosted on Pawnmail from Gmail. (See Google's article https://support.google.com/mail/answer/21289?hl=en) The emailed is pulled from Pawnmail rather than pushed, but it achieves the same effect.
Do NOT do this. Unless you're willing to make absolutely sure that no spam gets through to gmail, you will be blacklisted by gmail when it flags spam coming from your host. And not even a lot of it.
Basically, to use gmail this way you have to be almost as good as gmail at the thing that most makes gmail worthwhile. It's not worth it. Much easier to go the other way.
The stats said - free accounts very rarely converted to paying accounts. All the monitizing options for people with free accounts are pretty creepy, even text-only ads were bad. We hated that.
So we turned off free accounts. FastMail only provides paid accounts, and in exchange we don't need to look for another business model - we take payment in exchange for providing an awesome service and everybody is happy.
... and per the estimated price of $0.30/yr for 2Gb storage - our costs are much higher than that. On the other hand we have 3 full copies of every email store, two in one datacentre and one in another - and each of them is on RAID1 SSD and RAID6 SATA, all encrypted - with enough CPU and RAM to work fast. Metadata and the current week's email is on SSD, the rest on SATA. There's a reason we're fast, and it's because people pay us enough to be able to invest in full time engineers working on optimising our usage of the hardware resources we have. Feel free to read the source code for our IMAP server at:
https://github.com/brong/cyrus-imapd/ in the fastmail branch.
(or have a look at the git repository at git.cyrusimap.org where we are pushing many of our contributions back into the master branch in preparation for the public 2.5 release soon)
I feel no guilt at not offering free service. We provide value for money to our customers.
1. if I know it is still there tomorrow.
2. It has a good price
3. It is not hosted in the US.
I used name.com and they charge the price of another .com for webmail access. whois privacy costs extra too. gandi includes all these things at no extra charge. I'm going to be moving to gandi.net permanently pretty much had it with getting hustled by name.com
Am I missing something? Is there a reason that this would be a bad idea?