1. 40

I’ve been looking to switch email providers for some time now.

I’d like to know

  • What are your priorities for email providers?
  • What do you use as your current provider?
  • Why is it better than your previous provider?

I’m mostly looking for your opinions on the general topic of email providers, so if you don’t want to directly answer any of these questions, that’s OK. If you self-host, I welcome your response too.

P.S. I might make a separate thread for this, but I’d like to know if you have a custom domain (especially one with a nonstandard TLD like .bike, .cc, .ke, etc.) and whether that complicates things for you (mostly with regard to getting flagged as spam).

Previous threads on email providers: 1 2 3

    1. 50

      I’ve been using FastMail with my own custom domain for several years now, and it’s been all smooth sailing.

      • CalDav and contacts CardDav means I also use it for syncing my calendar/contacts across devices
      • They generate an Apple profile configuration so it’s trivial to configure it
      • They support wildcard aliases. I use it all the time to setup an email address per account (for example, lobsters@mydomain.com) so I can easily see who sold my email address, and I can then block that address with simple filtering rules
      1. 13

        Moreover, you can put multiple domains under one plan, even if just for one sole user. Works wonders for my DNS name hacks that I foolishly bought years ago.

        1. 1

          I also take advantage of this for my side project!

          I just add the domain under the same account, so anybody can contact me trough that domain name as well. Very handy while the project is a one-person effort.

      2. 5

        How is Fastmail’s web UI experience compared to gmail?

        1. 9

          It’s clean and fast. (screenshot) Keyboard shortcuts as expected. I much prefer it to Gmail’s.

      3. 4

        Same except I use Pobox. They’ve been around for decades, and they’re excellent. They became part of Fastmail a few years back, and buyouts usually suck, but this one didn’t because Fastmail is great in all the same ways. I think the only noticeable change is we got better webmail.

    2. 21

      I’ve been using Migadu for a few years now; they’re great. The best thing about them is that I always get very quick replies from their support teams when needed.

      1. 6

        The pricing looks great for individual use, but I’m a little concerned about the limits for incoming and outgoing mail.

        Are you on the Micro plan? Have you ever exceeded the limit?

        1. 10

          I’m on the Micro plan and never come close to the limits. YMMV.

          1. 5

            Me too, and I am subscribed to a few mailing lists

        2. 2

          I host the email for a few dozen accounts on their largest account, and it works smoothly. The webmail is okay. No calendar integration or the like, which was a pain point for a few of the users when I migrated from an old GMail service when Google decided to start charging for it.

          Their support really is excellent.

          1. 1

            This might not be what you’re looking for but they do have basic CalDAV support. No web interface for this though.

            1. 1

              I wonder what caldav server they use.

              1. 3

                I believe it’s sabre/dav.

        3. 1

          Best thing to do if you’re considering it is to look at how much mail you’ve sent and received in previous months. I think there’s a half-decent Thunderbird add-on that’ll summarise that information for you if nothing else.

          Also, if you’re keen on moving but are pushing the limit on sends then remember that there’s no reason you need to always use their SMTP service! I often use my ISP’s (sadly now undocumented) relay and never had any bother.

        4. 1

          I had to bump up to the mini plan to accommodate a family member’s small business running under my account. It was painless.

        5. 1

          Yes, I’m on the Micro plan, and I haven’t come close to the limits. If there were one day when I exceeded the limits I’m sure they wouldn’t mind; if I had higher email flux in general though I’d be happy to pay more.

      2. 1

        I just started using them for some things, and the amount of configurability they give you is crazy (in a great way, that is). I’m going to move all of my mail hosting to them some day.

      3. 1

        only bad thing is their web portal - it doesn’t remember logins and the search is slow / disfunctional

        otherwise i love migadu and will always sing its praises

        1. 1

          As in the web mail interface? I assumed that was more of a toy/demo since I use IMAP.

    3. 17

      Went from free Gmail to paid Proton with a custom domain for privacy and ownership reasons, and because good services are worth paying for. Soon got weaned off the Google amenities, and now have unique addresses for most services. The biggest problem so far has been services that won’t let me actually change my email address, at least not without contacting support. Oh, and that one idiot that got upset because “I was hijacking his brand” when using shittycompany@mydomain =)

      It has been fun to see reactions when people believe I’ve premade addresses just for them - during a covid test I actually had a doctor’s assistant ask me for a date, which was the first time any sober stranger had asked me on a date since, well, my birth =)

    4. 13

      I self-host and honestly I am not sure what I am doing differently because it doesn’t seem all that hard? I’ve barely touched my config in the past 5 years other than enabling TLS and the auth stuff at some point. I probably don’t even have some of that configured quite right.

      Spam is not much of a problem these days. The only special thing I do there is using unique addresses for every service I sign up for. But very few of those addresses ever gets spam. Some have gotten the occasional “newsletter” but even that goes away when I hit the unsubscribe link. I’ve only blackholed about 10 addresses in the past few years.

      I do keep a vanity gmail address for some uses because it’s easier to get the spelling right than my own domain. I fetch that into my local mail handling too though, I hardly ever touch the gmail UI. Now that I think about it the gmail address probably gets most of the spam I see.

      I don’t run my own DNS these days because it didn’t seem worth the hassle but the flexibility I get with email is well worth the (minimal ongoing) effort.

      1. 3

        I use Simple NixOS Mailserver. The setup is a few DNS entries and a few lines of Nix.


        Works pretty well but I haven’t configured my spam filtering properly - things are being soft rejected but they just show up as normal emails in my client. Need to figure that out.

      2. 1

        My understanding on the whole “never host your own mail server” argument is that email is something you probably want near perfect uptime and as a regular person its hard to manage that. When I was looking at hosting myself there was a lot of talk about putting a caching server in front of your mail server to catch anything if you go down which seemed like a good solution. But I figured if I was going to do that I might as well just pay for a service.

    5. 10

      We have a family account at Fastmail, using our family domain and my personal domain.

      In a previous job I looked after email for Cambridge University, alongside my colleague David Carter. David developed a brilliant replication system for Cyrus IMAP, which allowed us to store everyones email in multiple sites. Great operational peace of mind. (In 2003 it was several years ahead of the state of the art.)

      Bron Gondwana and the team at Fastmail adopted David’s tech, got it incorporated into upstream Cyrus, and made some great improvements to it. They are good supporters of open source and open standards.

      So when I stopped doing email professionally, Fastmail seemed like a good choice: good people, good tech, and financially stable and reliable for decades.

      1. 4

        We have a family account at Fastmail, using our family domain and my personal domain.

        It looks as if they stopped offering the family plans a few years ago, which is a shame because they looked great value. I’d like to stop self hosting email for my family at some point and they look like a good option, but the per-user quotas are likely to cause some headache.

        I’d also really like to see a company like fastmail use SEV-SNP / TDX / ACCA to provide technical guarantees (with the client checking a remote attestation) that they can’t see your email.

        1. 2

          Not sure what the family plan was, but if you have a standard account with custom domain names, you can then add basic accounts to share those domain names.

          So, let’s say that you need 3 users, that’s going to be $50 + $30 + $30 per year, or $9.2 per month.

          Not great, but not terrible.

          1. 2

            It’s a similar price to self hosting (though, hopefully, less work). It doesn’t look great in comparison to something like Microsoft 365, which gives me 6 users each with 50 GB of mail storage for £80/year (in addition to Office on multiple platforms and 1 TB of cloud storage per user). If I buy cloud storage, even with geographic replication, I’m looking at $0.04/GB/Month for hot storage (and, honestly, 90% of mail is cold and can be moved to a cheaper tier), so the incremental cost of adding more users is very small.

            Fastmail used to offer a suite of family plans, where you paid for the total storage amount that your family used and could share that between users. With their current plan, I’d probably have to put most people on their $50/year plan to get 30 GB of space, even though, between us all, we’re likely using under 50 GB.

            1. 1

              Microsoft 365’s pricing is very competitive, I’m also on a family subscription for their apps and OneDrive storage.

              On the other hand, the hidden cost to adopting well-integrated solutions from big corporations is lock-in. Cost-effectiveness is how people were lured into Google’s ecosystem, only to find later that they have to pay with their privacy, and that the competition is increasingly vanishing, such that more and more options are off the table. And the sad part is that well-integrated solutions are often inferior compared with their competition (e.g., Teams vs. Slack, OneDrive vs. Dropbox, etc.), but only big companies can afford the integration and the resulting cost-effectiveness.

              And, AFAIK, custom domains are no longer available for family users (see announcement). So, for people comfortable with the lock-in of an @outlook.com email address, might as well go for Gmail because Microsoft doesn’t strike as very different from Google (US-based, owns an advertising platform), and Gmail is technically the superior option.

              1. 1

                That’s fair. I mostly compare the cost of FastMail to the cost of self hosting. With the low price of VMs and storage, it looks high and (after the initial setup) I don’t really do much to maintain a mail server. I would expect a medium sized company to have better economies of scale. I used to run a mail system for a few hundred users when I was a student and that was about as much effort as running one for a single user, so I’d expect it to be a bit cheaper, even including a healthy profit. For a family, it is currently a bit more expensive.

    6. 9

      I don’t see my provider mentioned yet: mailbox.org

      My priorities are:

      • Privacy focused
      • Small enough to have a change to actually talk to a human in case I need support and that I am important as a customer, but big enough that I can trust them to be stable.
      • Not free, because I don’t trust that, but also not too expensive because… well.
      • Multiple custom domains should not increase the price by a lot

      My previous provider wast Fastmail. The reason I switched is somewhat irrational. mailbox.org is German and that is closer too my home. Also I trust German laws and enforcement around privacy a bit more (without having solid evidence). And the most irrational one: for a long time I had the tradition to watch as many videos from the CCC congress after Christmas and New Year, and that left me with a soft spot for German hackers.

      Comparing the two, I’d say that the user experience of Fastmail is definitely better, but I have no complaints at all about mailbox.org. It is rock solid. Also you get more features with your subscription, like a hosted NextCloud, video conferencing, etc.

      I have one Belarusian domain (.by tld) for a fun domain name, but I don’t actually use it. Setting up DNS for SPF, DKIM was not harder than any of my other domains and test emails pass through without any hickups.

      1. 2

        Me too. I’m on their 1€/month plan because I only need the basic features.

        I guess the biggest reason to switch away from gmail was the fear that Google blocks my account for unknown reasons. So many accounts are connected to my email that I want to be a customer, not the product.

    7. 9

      I am using Purelymail at the moment, after switching out from GMail. I ended up with them mostly because of their pricing, lack of arbitrary limits and it being a one-man operation that was unlikely to succumb to “growth mindset” fueled scope creep and enshittification. I’m coming up at over 3 years of using Purelymail and I don’t think it has cost me more than $25 total in that time, if even that.

      I initially felt that the lack of a “fancy” webmail (Purelymail uses RoundCube) would be an annoyance but Purelymail using regular IMAP/POP lets me use essentially any alternative I want and it works out fine in practice.

      1. 7

        After the email provider I used, OpenMailBox, disappeared for years suddenly with almost no communication (before being sold on) - I would never recommend using something that wasn’t one of the big email corps.

        1. 6

          On the big corps, access to your account disappears without communication instead. :)

        2. 2

          Don’t remind me of that fiasco - at least I managed to export out the mail :(

      2. 4

        Don’t you worry about the bus factor?

        1. 4

          I have also moved all my domains to purelymail hosting and I’m not worried because emails are not precious. :)

          Fully endorse the service, it’s been faultless for multiple years.

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            Emails themselves aren’t precious but if I were to lose access to my two primary email addresses I’d be potentially locked out of a lot of things due to recovery/verification email flows.

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              You can move to migadu quite fast if you use a DNS cache like CloudFlare.

              1. 1

                Isn’t the point to avoid big corpos?

                1. 1

                  Is migadu that big? Anyway, it was meant as a fallback to recover usage in case of purelymail going down.

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                    The Cloudflare part is. They are attempting to centralize the internet by offering a lot of their loss-leading services for ‘free’.

                2. 1

                  “the point”

                  Surely this depends on the user.

                  Personally I’m on migadu just because I needed something to host mail for a few domains reasonably cheaply, and I liked their documentation, not ideological reasons.

                  1. 1

                    Migadu seems like a good option. Using Cloudflare isn’t a good idea though.

            2. 3

              Would a custom domain solve this?

              1. 3

                Oh for sure, and I’ve only used custom domains for critical stuff for over 20 years. Just thinking if somehow GANDI or Google died tomorrow I’d have an unpleasant time for a bit.

        2. 2

          Not really, I use a custom domain and have automated backup jobs that run every hour to keep a portable copy of the email should I need to migrate in a hurry.

    8. 9

      I use gmail. I’ve had the account for over a decade. It’s great.

      1. 3

        Same. I barely use email for anything so it’s not something I’ve bothered trying to optimize. And I still have the lifetime +50GB free storage Google employees get from when I used to work there.

        1. 2

          I couldn’t live without email. People always want to phone me. It’s always a hassle. I’d rather do it over email. That way neither of us forget.

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            I just text. It drives my dad nuts though, especially when I reply to his emails with texts. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            1. 3

              I may be about your dad’s age. Text is perfect for exchanging one or two bits of timely information. But once more than one sentence is involved email is better for me.

    9. 6
      • I self-host my email server because I can meet whatever my priorities may be.
      • I send and receive email through SMTP and IMAP. I use webmail when I don’t have a proper native client, but that’s quite rare.
      • It’s better than Gandi because I control every aspect of the experience. If something goes wrong, I trust myself to get it sorted out faster than a commercial provider would; I dislike when I don’t control critical systems.

      My mail server has multiple domains, from .email and .services to .com, .net, and .org. I’ve really only had issues registering for services that think .email is an invalid domain.

      It was an absolutely incredible learning experience that I recommend to every budding sysadmin. Despite what many say, self-hosting is not the worst burden an admin can shoulder — I say running Synapse or Mastodon take that cake. In my experience, it’s truly been set it and forget it until the next Debian release. When the time comes, turn down your DNS TTLs, grab a new server, set it up, make sure things work, migrate emails from old server to new, swap records. The biggest gotchas are picking a reputable server provider like Hetzner, making sure you have the security stuff in place like SPF and DKIM, and being patient. Building a reputation as a benign server takes time; I think many people set it up, wait a few days, maybe a week, grow frustrated that the big players think their brand new domain and brand new IP address are spam, throw their hands in the air, and go on a Twitter rant about how unusable email is. It can be painful at first, sure, but I believe the end result and what you learn along the way — especially what you learn along the way — are incredibly valuable.

      I’m very much looking forward to reading Michael W Lucas’ Run Your Own Mail Server book. I’ll be comparing his setup to mine, and if I like his more, I’ll probably end up switching :)

    10. 6

      My previous provider was… me :-)

      I self-hosted for around 20 years, initially from a server at home off my DSL line when I first upgraded from dial-up, eventually moving to a colocated server, then I got bored of maintaining hardware (it was also my day job) and moved between VPSes several times. Eventually I got bored of trying to keep up with spam filtering - and for a while outsourced inbound MX to a service run by friends who did a much better job at spam filtering than me - but in the end I realised running my own mail server wasn’t worth my time any more. Given how long I ran it myself, it’s pretty good that I only really messed things up 2 or 3 times, but even so few occurrences made me doubt ever wanting to touch the setup. Even a “straightforward” Exim upgrade once silently broke something that I wasn’t made aware of for several days.

      Now I’m on Fastmail and couldn’t be happier. The service is fantastic and the webmail is great. Best webmail I’ve ever used - and so much better than Gmail. I consider the cost of Fastmail offset by no longer running a VPS and my own time of maintaining it.

      I’d like to know if you have a custom domain (especially one with a nonstandard TLD like .bike, .cc, .ke, etc.) and whether that complicates things for you (mostly with regard to getting flagged as spam).

      I have many! My “main” domains are “standard” - .co.uk, .com, .net, but I also have some in .im, .li, .ninja, .dev. No issues there.

      1. 2

        I feel about the same as James here (and indeed use FreeBSD now based on his recommendation), but I was running mail for a group of people, if a steadily shrinking set. [1] So I felt like I’d best keep going for my users.

        I was able to get the server management under control over time. Key things were:

        • automating the server build env (KVM + a salt bootstrap, oddly the bootstrap especially was just much easier with FreeBSD than Debian preseed)
        • use OpenSMTPD + the Rspamd filter (the naive bayes classifier is fine, though I had to disable some negative scoring for DKIM, etc)
        • writing tests for the server build

        It’s been OK and kinda fun, especially once Let’s Encrypt made TLS certs affordable and low stress. Deliverabilty is weirdly OK, too, best I can tell.

        But, yeah, if you’re doing just your own mail, I dunno. Best do what sounds fun.

        [1] Artifex.org started on an ISDN line in 1996, moved to Hurricane Electric with the California Community Colocation Project, moved to an admin’s fiber line for many years outside Sacramento, and then went virtual (and from Debian to FreeBSD) with the CCCP’s successor, IO Cooperative. Oddly enough, after a move I helped out on in early 2021, it’s now back at Hurricane Electric, though in their newer facility.

    11. 4

      Interestingly I just (this week) switched my self-hosted mail using iredmail from Scaleway to G-core labs VPS. Scaleway started off in maybe 2015(?) as this super cool, new bare-metal Paris-based startup with their own rack designs and VPSs which basically mapped to ARM units inside a big ol’ rack. They were great for a while until after a few years they got bought by OVH and sure enough the cool product line got shut down quick as you (don’t) like, with the support saying “uh yah just move to this VPS for 4 times the price and half the compute, it’s AWESOME”. At that point I just couldn’t be bothered to deal with the move, despite several other issues with networking and reliability, but it was just my personal domain so whatever. Eventually a while later it’s all “oh we’re binning the boot scripts we forced you onto, so, uh, move to this or that” (obvs for more money). So you know what? Get bent. Tuesday I moved my whole thing including iredmail, sish, openvpn, nginx, various docker services, tarsnap, other stuff, over to G-core. Piece of cake, seriously. Because f*** you, Scaleway: you took a once-loyal customer and ground me down through relentless product reduction, terrible service and massive price hikes to the point where as far as I’m concerned you can go jump in a lake. I got onto GCore about some dropped packets and in under 24 hours it was on a different host with nuts low pings and 0% packet loss. Scaleway would have made me dance the monkey dance and still I’d have got nowhere. Soooo … iredmail is pretty great. Full mail service without any of the pain. And gcore’s IP range seems to have way less of a shitty rep than Scaleway’s. Later, losers

      1. 3

        Your bad experience notwithstanding, Scaleway started off as Online.net way before 2015 (I remember purchasing my first “Dedibox” from them in 2005), and they were never bought by OVH.

        1. 3

          Wow yeah you’re right! It looks like they started way earlier and only rebranded to Scaleway in 2015, which was when I first heard of them. Seems they’re a subsidiary of something called Iliad, not OVH, whoops. I remember some kind of event after which their product line changed a lot and the service went rapidly downhill, prices went up, support got worse and even pretty unfriendly. I thought I remembered it as a sale to a OVH as a bigger player, which would have explained the changes, but I must have confused it with something else ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    12. 4

      I self-host! It’s actually pretty painless. …okay, relatively painless. …okay, it’s kinda like a root canal: pretty miserable at first, and then blissfully everything is better forever until something new goes wrong.

      My actual requirements are pretty simple: I have a personal account and a Srs Bsns account, and they’re at a domain I own so my email isn’t tied to any particular provider, and I access stuff using an IMAP client. I can set the attachment size to whatever I want, I am on the hook for my own storage and backups and that’s perfectly ok since I have that on my VPS anyway, and everything basically operates without needing to ever be touched. I run Postfix and Dovecot pulling accounts from a postgresql database, which is useful for the once in a blue moon I want to host email from multiple domains on the system but otherwise is probably overkill. Looking back at my notes, it took probably 2-3 days of determined setup in early 2019, and the only outage I’ve was a botched database upgrade in early 2021. I run a VPS anyway, so doing email costs me nothing extra, and for some reason I’ve had no serious issues with spam filter, either sending or receiving. Occasionally I get weird emails telling me to find God, but Thunderbird filters them out just fine.

      I would heavily recommend using your own domain one way or another, so that your email address just never changes again. Mine is at .io and it’s never caused issues with being flagged as spam. You can set up any domain’s DNS records to direct mail to a third party service, and if that service doesn’t allow you to do that then I would recommend not using them. Some of them charge extra for this, but I haven’t seen any email provider I’d want to use that is free, so.

    13. 3

      Fastmail. I prefer it to Google (my previous provider) because:

      1. It’s not Google.
      2. It’s not “free”; I pay a monthly fee; that gets me services and support. I know I’m not the product.
      3. It allows me to have a family account that I can administer, letting my children have their own addresses on our family domain, but also, allowing me to monitor their usage.
      4. Excellent support. I’ve seen their CTO on GitHub issue threads in years gone by.
      5. High reliability. I’ve only had a couple of issues in the years I’ve been with them.
      6. Their work on JMAP.
      1. 3

        I’ve seen their CTO on GitHub issue threads in years gone by.

        This is one of the reasons I like DuckDuckGo for search. Many years ago, they changed something in their search field that broke the keyboard navigation shortcuts on OS X (Google doing this was one of the reasons I started using DDG), so I filed a bug. A few hours later, I got an email from Gabriel (the founder) with a link to a test site to ask me if it fixed the issue. It did and they rolled out the fix that day.

        1. 1

          This is GitHub issue in question:


          Compare and contrast with other “tech” companies where it takes forever to even talk to someone who understands the problem. And this isn’t (purely) a matter of scale: I’ve had that sort of problem with quite small companies as well (especially in the education tech market, as I’ve reported a number of quite serious bugs in that space).

    14. 3

      What are your priorities for email providers?

      • inexpensive + not paying users subsidizing a free-tier loss-leader model (though exceptions for, like, students is nice)
      • no ads or collecting/sharing/selling user data from the contents of emails (it takes at least 2 parties to encrypt emails and most don’t publish their public keys)
      • great uptime (I can’t trust myself to self-host this)
      • works, without a bridge application, with native apps (I use himalaya and K-9)
      • CardDAV+CalDAV support
      • not in the US’s jurisdiction (outside 14 Eyes would be the best, but the EU at least has good privacy laws)
      • account 2FA
      • their hard drives & my slice of their system are encrypted
      • bonus: powered with renewables
      • bonus: can pay anonymously

      What do you use as your current provider?

      Posteo. €12/yr, meets above requirements and uses green power. The biggest downside is that they don’t yet (and don’t seem to want to) support custom domains which is a bit ugly aesthetically and would make a future migration if desired not easy.

      Why is it better than your previous provider?

      Previously I used ProtonMail and prior to that Yahoo Mail. Yahoo Mail had a nice web client & at least it wasn’t Google, but the account was from junior high when most folks in my circles used YIM. However, they were hacked a number of times and there were a lot of privacy concerns that pushed me to the edge (another interesting straw was that an employer told me they almost didn’t give me an interview candidates with @yahoo.com using this an indicator of age/incompetence rather than laziness/apathy towards migration). ProtonMail worked well and I got in on the €5 purchase for a lifetime upgrade from 500MB to 1GB of storage on the free tier. But some things changed:

      1. I needed to get my life better organized so I needed to use a calendar + contacts. I wasn’t using a calendar which originally didn’t affect me, and my contacts were synced with Google because I got an Android phone in college which coaxed users into using their service. While ProtonMail has CalDAV+CardDAV support, the bump in paid tier is €48/yr. This amount comes with a VPN, but ultimately it was more than I wanted to pay for and the price is likely reflecting the paying class is subsidizing the free class for g r o w t h.
      2. I became interested in having a mail client that could work offline as well as handling things like git send-email. ProtonMail (& Tutanota) requires a bridge app, and this seemed silly in general. On mobile OSs you are basically locked into their app (not available on F-Droid). The lighter weight of these apps can save a surprising amount of battery.

      I still have access to the the ProtonMail account and use it for more throwaway or I-don’t-trust-you-that-much stuff like food delivery.

      If I were to choose again, the custom domain thing may take higher priority instead of no priority since I’d previously never used a custom domain, so I didn’t think about it. Some additional perks a provider could offer that would be nice depending on clients: a Fediverse account (not necessarily Mastodon), an XMPP account (Matrix requires a much bigger budget to run), UnifiedPush, Etherpad. I ended up self-hosting some of these, but I would have joined sooner if I didn’t have to set it all up. There are providers that offer those services and custom domains, but rarely offering with still a good price and sustainability, and I haven’t had enough gripes with Posteo to bother switching. Before considering researching and switching, I’d rather put the effort into convincing employers to stop using Google.

    15. 3

      I moved from the free Google ecosystem to the paid Proton ecosystem. I used to pay Google One for extra storage, but Google started to show a lot of ads on its web interface and Android app. I also felt disrespected when I paid for a service and still received tons of advertisements. This was one reason I decided to move away from Google. The second reason is obviously the privacy issue. It is obvious that Proton provides better privacy and gives users full control over their data. Currently, I’m happy with Proton and don’t regret making the decision.

      1. 1

        Google started to show a lot of ads on its web interface and Android app

        I think I never thought of it until reading this, but reading this made me realize that I no longer see ads in Gmail. Testing with an unpaid account on Android, this appears to be a side effect of disabling “Inbox categories”; if I re-enable them, I see ads in the “Promotions” and “Social” category views but still not in “Primary”, “Updates”, or “Forums”.

        1. 1

          It seems a good solution for those who are still on Gmail and don’t want to see ads.

          When I was still using Gmail, I enabled IMAP and installed K-9 Mail on my Android device. It’s a good alternative to the default Gmail app and of course it’s completely ad-free.

    16. 3

      For my “main” account, I’ve been using Startmail for a pretty long time now, since 2014 I think? In any case, since before they got bought by System1. I was a little apprehensive about it at the time, given their reputation. However, it turned out okay so far, at least as far as I know.

      The things that matter for me – my priorities for email providers – are, in no particular order

      • Good IMAP/SMTP support because the web has been eating the native for twenty years and yet every web client out there (yes, including Gmail, Jesus, y’all got Stokholm syndrome I swear…) is worse than basically every native option short of ncing IMAP and SMTP commands by hand. (Edit: StartMail is actually not ideal in this regard, it does a weird thing where the inbox get populated “on the fly” when you sync it, so filtering is quirky, but it’s not too bothersome once you figure it out)
      • No fiddling. I admined systems for $$$ way back when it felt like something whiz kids do. I don’t have the patience for it anymore. Even entering my login data into Apple Mail felt like twice more work than I wanted to put into it.
      • Decent spam protection because a) I kind of like a neat inbox and b) I don’t want things to get lost in my spam folder.
      • Decent device/account management support because this is my main account, so I got it on two laptops, my phone and my tablet, and if one of them gets lost I’d much rather nuke a device from a list of devices than change my password which, thanks to KeepassXC, I don’t even know.
      • Being able to talk to humans when something happens. I needed support from the StartMail team twice, I think – both were way back so I don’t know if this is the case anymore – but I don’t think I even got through a chatbot/email bot/whatever, I ended up talking straight to super nice people.

      In addition to all that: this is my “main” account. 90% of what gets there is stull like monthly bills (phone/cable/electricity/whatever), “official” stuff (tax filings and the like), communication that more or less “has” to happen (e.g.communications on mailing lists for software I maintain) so it’s pretty important for me not to have to ping people and say heeey, is my last email in your spam folder perchance?

      I’m not that anxious about System1 ownership because frankly privacy is a non-issue for me on this account. I’m a rather modest person and I try to live below my means. I use a five year-old phone because it still phones just fine, and before I splurged on a Mac like 2+ years ago I was using a seven year-old desktop with a keyboard that’ll turn twenty this summer. If System1 is building my consumer profile and telling advertisers how to target me to sell me shit, they’re doing a really bad job at it. Also, if anyone’s reading the emails, I’m so sorry for them, they must be bored to tears. What can I say, not everyone gets to be James Bond, some you just snoop on my grandfathered cable subscription and my provider begging me to upgrade it since forever.

      My previous provider was me, I used to self-host my stuff. It gave me pretty much the same that StartMail gave me, plus headaches and anxiety about having to keep a server going. I’m happy to throw a modest amount of money at the problem. I could probably get cheaper email elsewhere but at this point I have like nine years’ worth of accounts to change emails and passwords to. Some of those are things like the local equivalent of IRS. I don’t know what I have to do to change my email with them but I’m pretty sure it involves filling in some forms in triplicate so whatever I’d save on email I’d end up spending on Uber, and on legal fees and bribes to make those destruction of public property charges go away so I’d rather avoid it.

      I tried ProtonMail a while back but back then they still had that weird gateway thing that you had to use your email client through and it was really annoying. It totally broke my “no fiddling” rule.

    17. 3

      I switched from Gmail to Protonmail as my email provider in 2017, a few months after Google fired James Damore for arguing against Google’s gender-diversity policies. I had long been suspicious about relying on Google and other Google-tier cloud companies for important facets of my online presence, and the Damore incident was the impetus for me to actually end my own associations with Google, the biggest of which was the Gmail address I used everywhere.

      I think I researched both Protonmail and FastMail at the time, and I forget exactly what drew me to Protonmail. It’s good that they’re legally located in Switzerland and provide some kind of encryption, but I’m under no illusions that this does very much to prevent law enforcement from reading my emails. I like that I am a paying customer to my email provider rather than being on a free tier, and also that Protonmail accepts cryptocurrency without much fuss.

      I’ve recently started using @myowndomain.com addresses forwarded to Protonmail in place of the default @protonmail.com address, which works fine. I also have no particular complaints about the Protonmail webapp, although I have recently noticed a bug with the email sending flow in the Android app - when composing an email on the phone, sometimes the email seems to get sent with some of the text towards the end of the email cut off. I don’t send emails from my phone all that much so this isn’t a huge priority, but it is an annoyance.

      Another slight annoyance with Protonmail is that, because of the encryption, you have to run a separate program in order to access your email over POP3/IMAP. I don’t normally do this, because I’m satisfied with Protonmail’s webapp, but I recall it being an issue when I wanted to experiment with some programs that required POP3/IMAP access to a working email account. If I switch from Protonmail to another email provider, it will probably be for this reason, although it’s not a huge priority for me right now.

      I do wish that when I updated my email address everywhere to switch it from @gmail.com to @protonmail.com, I had also decided to get a permanent real-name domain name and use that immediately, so that I could change my email provider without having that affect the email addresses other people use to communicate with me. I’m starting to do this now with my custom domain, so that I won’t have to go through that rigamarole a third time.

    18. 2

      Originally I had a friend hosting my custom domains on their space (thank you again, if you read this!). A few years ago I migrated that to Mailfence, although I also looked at Proton, Fastmail, and the like. The main reason I went with Mailfence was comparing the number of unique domains I wanted hosted and the storage, they ended up cheaper per month than the others (it was an odd number of domains, so some of the other plans ended up WAY more than I needed and hence way more expensive). I likely would have been happy with any of them.

      While I also have some Gmail and the like, my main priority for my personal domains is control. I want to control what sort of spam protecting exists (i.e. I don’t want messages quietly deleted) and use the client of my choosing. I’ve been happy with Mailfence, I think their web GUI is decent when I don’t have my actual email client handy and the price is good enough.

      I also run a self-hosted email server running on AWS for my church that really just forwards to a few specific addresses. Our biggest issue is with users on Google not receiving mail because Google silently drops it every so often. We aren’t big enough (< 25 emails a day) for the email admin tools to even register, so it is perpetually a waiting game for the IP to get back off the deny list. I haven’t had any such issues with Mailfence dropping our emails, but it is annoying enough on the admin side that I, personally, don’t want to invest the time to run a serious mail server for my actual domains.

      One thing to note, I used an imap backup script to move everything between servers (really a download then upload) and clearly didn’t pay enough attention to folder depth. Lost some older emails as a result, always triple check when you do this!

    19. 2

      Mythic Beasts, it’s better than SDF because emails arrive within seconds rather than minutes. A requirement was the ability to manage all filtering over SSH, including aliases.

    20. 2

      Self-hosting my mail, 23 years and counting. There’s .tech from less usual TLDs

      Postfix, pyspf-milter, Dovecot, SpamAssassin, OpenDKIM, OpenDMARC, ClamAV

    21. 2

      I’ve run my own email server for over a decade. Despite many people’s fears that it’s an intensive occupation, it’s basically zero-maintenance. The last time I had to do any significant work on it was when my previous VPS burned down in the OVH fire; I took that opportunity to migrate from Debian to remotely-managed NixOS. Now my mail server is defined entirely in Nix in a Git repository.

      A particular requirement I have for any email provider I use is the following rule: An incoming email which it is technically feasible to deliver must be delivered. In other words, mail must not be rejected for “policy” reasons, such as being on an IP blacklist. I believe Fastmail uses the Spamhaus XBL for example, so it wouldn’t meet this criteria. Such rejection is unnecessary in the first place since you can just classify mail into a Spam folder rather than reject it, which preserves the user’s control and decisionmaking and doesn’t throw away a potentially important message.

      I insist on this because I don’t want to not receive a potentially important message, but also because it’s in my view against my interests for my email provider to preempt my own decisionmaking on what mail I do and don’t want to receive. I wouldn’t find it remotely acceptable if my physical mailman started throwing away letters in purple envelopes without even telling me because he thinks they’re “probably” spam.

      There’s also an issue that large mail providers rejecting incoming mail due to arbitrary criteria is one of the ways in which they effectively bully other, smaller mail providers into doing their bidding, and in which large mail providers make it harder for other mail providers to compete. So I see this as both a user-disempowering practice and one which is detrimental to the email ecosystem.

    22. 1

      I used to self-host, but dozens of exim config files, and fights with spf, dkim, tls, tuning of spamassasing scores, etc. were too much for me. I use fastmail now. It’s okay.

    23. 1

      Google Workspace (It’ll always be GSuite to me though). I have 4 domains configured with catch-all domains for each. I have virtually unlimited email addresses.

    24. 1

      At work, we use Fastmail. It works well enough.

      For my own email, I amortize the pain of self-hosting with a friend. I’m tempted to set up a 365 tenant for mail and use that.

    25. 1

      What is my priority in an email provider? reliability, longevity, stability. The ability to use “sub email” addresses (e.g. postfix uses -suffix, gmail uses +suffix, etc.), ease of adding addresses, being able to do “weird stuff” when needed (e.g. send specific email through a specific route or add specific headers, etc.) are also important, but the first three are tantamount, especially stability. Cloud services LOVE to change shit up in the name of progress (and as a justification for increasing rates), and I’m not having any of it.

      I roll my own: postfix and dovecot. No spam management, but I do use a variety of host/helo/recipient checks and zen.spamhaus.org. It seems to work reasonably well. No webmail either, but I’ve never used that in the 25+ years I’ve been running my own mail server.

      Why do I bother with my own? I don’t trust third party hosting. I don’t like gmail, and I have other services that I run on the same server so adding email to it is not much more work. Honestly, after getting DKIM/SPF/DMARC set up, it largely takes care of itself, and the only real changes I make have to do with specific spam campaigns were my domain seems to receive dozens of the same kind of email, so I “spot treat” those.

    26. 1

      FastMail with custom domains, for the better part of a decade. I have no complaints whatsoever. My priorities are: I don’t notice my email/contacts/calendar provider; it Just Works (with iOS/Emacs/macOS). I would never change, to be honest.

      ETA: I don’t use webmail (I detest all web “applications”), but I’m sure it’s largely Fine.

      1. 1

        Do you know if there is any Emacs client that supports JMAP, I am currently just using Wanderlust for my email.

        1. 1

          Hmm. I use mu and mbsync to keep my mail synced locally. I’m intrigued by JMAP, but haven’t needed to interact with it.

    27. 1

      I haven’t had any issues with non-standard TLDs with regard to being considered spam; IP reputation is the most important thing there, and the biggest stumbling block when self-hosting.

      1. 2

        Thanks for the pointer; it makes me feel more confident in using a domain hack (what good is a vanity domain if you don’t actually show it to people?).

    28. 1

      I self host, and have been for several years now. I’m satisfied with it when it works, but, in the last couple years, the risks are becoming tangible. In particular, I’ve had to jump through some hoops to get Microsoft (@hotmail.com, etc.) to accept my email, and Apple’s mail services are still rejecting my email (I have few enough contacts with them that I’m just accepting this). By hoops I mean things like writing to mail bounce tech support email addresses, submitting web forms, etc. This is despite having taken all the usual measures, including SPF, DKIM, etc.

      I fear it’s just a matter of time before the big providers do not accept my emails any more. My intention is, should it come down to it, to move to one of the usually recommended privacy-friendly providers like ProtonMail or FastMail.

    29. 1

      I have 6 accounts in regular use, and for 5 of them I self-host using exim, dovecot and Rspamd. The 6th account is with servermx.com since a few years, and I’m pretty happy about it.

      Rspamd and Thunderbird’s junk mail detector take care of 98% of the spam I receive, and in the last 5 years of this self-hosted setup I have had only a handful of delivery incidents with some of the big providers.

    30. 1

      I think what’s important for end-user is a custom domain, because as long as you paid for it and control it the mail server underneath can bankrupt or change but your accounts will be safe.

      What’s important for the server is a non-blacklisted IP address, so all the major mail providers like Google and whatnot won’t despise it.

      With that thought few years back I moved from Gmail to a self-hosted solution - luckily the IP address wasn’t used by anything suspicious before so after couple of hours of setting up dkim/spf/whatnot I had a working openbsd mail server. It feels like run-off-the-mill solution and certainly nothing special, but it works fine so far. I like that it is my own domain and I have control over that server and I somewhat understand the underlying processes and what happens when an e-mail arrives or being sent :)

    31. 1

      I use iCloud+. For $1 per month I can use my own domain and it supports wildcards, which are my main priorities. I can also configure everything directly from the Settings on my iPhone.

      I think it’s the easiest and cheapest experience, without vendor lock in since I use my domain.

      I used gmail before (still do because migrating everything is hard) but I’m a bit scared of getting banned one day for no good reason and losing my email, so a custom domain has become my priority. Also I try to stop using Google products as much as possible. Currently the only one I still use is YouTube. I’ve almost completely replaced Maps with Apple Maps, Translate with DeepL, and Search with Brave Search.

    32. 1

      I use Zoho right now. It is very cheap, and there is no advertising. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on the number of domains I can add to it. I use a .haus domain for my primary email address and the only trouble I’ve run into is that the website for my Kohl’s card does not recognize it as a valid address.

    33. 1

      I’ve been using Fastmail for the last 5 years, after having used Gmail.

      Web interface is good, they are standards compliant (CalDAV, CardDAV, IMAP), they make it easy to have app-specific passwords or an email address per online service used. Administering multiple domain names is easy, and all limits are very reasonable.

      The pricing is fair too.

    34. 1
      1. Priorities

      My provider needs to be solely in the business of being my Email provider and not make money off of selling my data to the highest bidder or mining it to be analyzed and used in further sales.

      My provider also needs to provide an accessible web interface to my E-mail. I don’t need fancy dancing, I need an email interface that doesn’t literally give me an eyestrain headache (I’m looking at you, Gmail).

      1. Current provider is FastMail. They have superlative customer support, let me bring my own domain, and have an excellent, accessible web UI. They are in the business of being an email provider and aren’t mining me into the ground like GOOG.

      2. My previous provider was Gmail. I’d been uncomfortable with them for a while but the last straw was when they redesigned their web UI in a way that literally caused low vision folks pain. In my case, I suffer eyestrain headaches, and their redesign was so low contrast, with feathery fonts and bad color choices. On top of this, when GOOG’s own interface showed me all the data about my life they’d been collecting, I was greatly disturbed. Either you pay for the product or you ARE the product, and I’m good and sick of being the product.

    35. 1

      I’m using Purelymail because

      • 10 dollars a year
      • can add as many domains as I want
      • can create as many accounts with those domains as I want
    36. 1

      I used to self-host email with OpenSMTPd. At a certain point, I got tired for maintaining IMAP+Clamav+OpenSMTPd+spamd. What drove me to fastmail was the fact that my Bank’s smtpd didn’t follow the specification, so spamd actually dropped their email but then the bank’s smtpd didn’t re-send the email. As you can imagine, I never got the reply in time and my card limits were way down for the scheduled trip. It turned out to be “okay” but it could have got real ugly, so I migrated everything to fastmail and been happy ever since. The only problem with Fastmail is that they’re from Australia. Australia has poor privacy laws.

      1. 2

        The greylisting OpenBSD’s spamd really doesn’t work well with providers that send from multiple outbound IPs. Most of the big providers do this (in some cases intentionally to work around BGP problems or temporary IP blocklists). You got into a cycle of the message arriving with spamd, the IP being marked in the grey list so that it would work the next time, the resend happening from a different IP and this repeating until you gave up. I had a script that grabbed the SPF records from a bunch of big providers and shoved all of the IPs that they advertised for outbound SMTP in the allow list, but it didn’t work for smaller providers with multiple egress addresses. The right thing to do would be for spamd to query APF records for the sending domain and, if they specify a non-wildcard address set, allow retransmissions from any of them. The maintainers made it clear that they would not accept patches to do this.

    37. [Comment removed by author]

    38. 1

      G Suite. I tried fastmail way in the past and there’s enough small things (like spam filtering not being great, and some general futziness I can’t recall) where I just didn’t feel like I was getting a useful experience.

    39. 1

      I self-hosted my email for years which actually wasn’t that bad, but I did absolutely hate the web UI options I found for self-hosting. Since I spend all day on a work laptop that I don’t want to hook up to my personal email and wanted a nice web UI, I ended up going with FastMail. The experience has been great, zero pieces of feedback, love the web interface and it works on everything. Their iOS app also isn’t bad (it’s just the web UI again) and I would gladly make the same choice again.

    40. 1

      I am using gmail because it solves my problem and has a good set of applications, at least for my usage.

      I created a GMX account for some automations like a send2kindle script because it’s easier to do SMTP integration.

      I’ve used cloudflare to receive email from a custom domain. Just a test, but worked really well but you have to keep in mind that it’s just for receiving email.

      BTW I wanted a provider to integrate with stuff like aerc and git sendmail to do mailing list based code contribution.

    41. 1

      I recently signed up for zoho, i basically was looking for the cheapest and the one that will not get in my way(flexible enough) plus let me use my domain. It simply checked all the things i needed :)

      edit: was about to go for fastmail but they have blocked signups from india because of the war situation ig

    42. 1

      I have three addresses that I use, two of which are on vanity domains:

      • One hosted by GMail/Google Workspaces/Google Apps/Whatever It Is Now (vanity domain 1)
      • One hosted by GANDI (vanity domain 2, also hosting my website)
      • One at the venerable well.com

      I self-hosted the vanity domains for a while but stronger spam controls meant that I started having emails dropped silently by some of the bigger providers (even with SPF, though this was before DKIM), so I migrated to Google and GANDI.

    43. 1

      I know it may not be popular, but I use a custom domain with office 365. I do not use their calendaring, however, I use my own self-hosted server for that. Office seems to do a good job in preventing spam, and if I get really tired I can take my ball and go home due to he fact that I own my own domain. Plus it’s cheap it’s only $6 a month. If I really need privacy I can encrypt my email.

      1. 1

        To piggyback: what calendar software do you use?

        1. 4

          I use radicale behind caddy webserver.

    44. 1

      I haven’t switched yet, but I’ve been thinking about switching to posteo from Gmail. It seems sustainable - on par with getting a custom domain if you want to have an email addresss for life, which is my main priority (they don’t allow custom domains). It also just seemed the most trustworthy out of all the providers I’ve evaluated, but that isn’t in any way objective.

      It’s also cheaper than the competition :p

    45. 1

      Priorities: 1: Safety (don’t lose messages), security (because it’s trustee for MFA and password resets by some services), support wildcard addresses at my domain. 2: Be convenient

      Current provider: Cloudflare (to give me unlimited wildcard addresses) in front of Apple

      Why better: I trust Cloudflare and Apple with security more than the tiny provider I previously used, who don’t appear to have a huge amount of resources to apply to preventing attacks. I also believe mail sent through Apple will be unlikely to be treated as spam, compared to that sent through the small provider.

      I have a custom domain on a nonstandard TLD and I haven’t experienced being treated as spam, as far as I’m aware. I hardly ever send email, though.