Get me out of Google's grip! Paid mail/cal alternatives?
January 28, 2012 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Help me switch from Google services (Mail/Cal...) to a paid alternatives.

Doesn't looks like this exact question has been used in a while...

In short: really unhappy with Google for a variety of reasons and want to migrate my mail and calendar services (and optionally, RSS & Docs) to a alternatives.


0) Looking for something with comparable mail & calendar integration + functionality: good search and spam filtering a must.

1) Strongly prefer to pay for something with a service agreement & privacy policy that doesn't involve tracking me. Around $10/month per user account is fine.

2) Would like to be able to access & sync accounts via iOS, Android, Web and desktop mail / calendar apps - IMAP / CalDAV.

3) Lets me point my own domain ( at the email account

4) Reasonably hassle-free migration of email & calendar entries.

5) At a push, willing to host/manage something myself on a webserver but would rather avoid it if I can.

Right now, I'm looking at something like this hosted Zimbra option from eapps:

Any advice, pointers or recent experience doing anything similar?
posted by tkbarbarian to Technology (7 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I use Office 365 and it meets all of your requirements that I know of, plus there's an automatic free trial. I don't know about CalDAV since I don't use it, but Exchange does have a way to share calendars via a URL so perhaps that'll do what you're after. IMAP works, as does ActiveSync for mobile devices, and there's built-in utilities to migrate from other IMAP services. The cost is $6/month/mailbox.
posted by fireoyster at 2:17 PM on January 28, 2012

For hosted IMAP, is the gold standard. It's best when paired with a good local client, but reasonably functional webmail access is also available.

Calendaring, on the other hand... I have no idea.
posted by SemiSophos at 2:36 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: SemiSophos - thanks for the FastMail recommendation - have also looked at them but in their forums there seems to be quite a few complaints of outages recently - not much to go on but enough to temper my enthusiasm + a lack of a good calendar is a big downside.

fireoyster - thanks! never thought I'd be considering an MS hosted solution over Google :-) Presume it just looks like outlook in the browser? Any idea how much storage you get?
posted by tkbarbarian at 3:05 PM on January 28, 2012 It's $24 a year per user, although I've never upgraded to paid because free does everything I need, with no ads.
posted by COD at 7:51 PM on January 28, 2012

I believe the storage quantity is something huge, 25GB last I checked. Outlook Web Access looks a bit like Outlook, but the plus is that it works in "rich experience" mode with all browsers (including Firefox, which I use).
posted by fireoyster at 12:31 AM on January 29, 2012

This is a really good question, one I've been thinking of asking -- quite frankly, I'm surprised at how few answers have shown up here. Looking at my calendar, I see that this question was posted on a Saturday, mid-afternoon; I bet that there'd have been more people weighing in here was it posted on a Tuesday morning at 9AM.

I didn't like it when I heard about it, the whole Google thing I mean -- I have used their services all OVER the place -- and then suddenly last week my Google Voice won't work any more, it needs freedom to set more cookies and/or whatever else in my browser, and that didn't give me a big smiley face, in fact it's set me to looking around a lot more seriously. Here's a few things I've found, in no particular order.

The super-cool non-profit organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, a (Defending Your Rights In The Digital World) has put up a couple of pages you'll perhaps find interesting, linked here: How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google's New Privacy Policy Takes Effect and Six Tips to Protect Your Search Privacy. Those pages give chapter and verse what's happening, why, and what you can do to counter-act.

The first article is an overview of what's immediate in the situation, the second article they show things you can do to increase your privacy, starting from quite easy to implement (Don't put personally identifying information in your search terms) all the way up to getting *totally* redneck in their sixth suggestion, using web proxies and anonymizing software like Tor. I believe I'd jump off the roof before I got into that but it is there and I'm glad to know that it is.

LifeHackers lead story yesterday "Everyone’s Trying to Track What You Do on the Web: Here’s How to Stop Them" dealt with this, head-on. Lots of good information and good ideas and ways to implement this information and these ideas if you decide to do so.

One thing that they came up with that I'd absolutely thought of is using another browser completely if I'm going to use any of Googles services. And I'm going to keep using two, Google Voice (not only is it great but also because it implements so damn well with Sprint; they got married maybe a year ago and it's pretty damn good) and also to store MP3 files; very inexpensive storage, costs me ten bucks a year for 40gig, I've got all my music locally also but nice to have it 'out there' as a just in case sort of thing.

(Related to that last, I also store MP3 files on MS Live set-up, and store them free, using two accounts, one I've had for over a decade and one that I set up just for this purpose. They offer 25 gig cloud storage free for each account, really sweet. But I believe in redundancy.)

Anyways. I've stayed far, far away from Google Chrome browser to keep a bit of distance from Google, but I think I'll set it up on this puter just for those two services, voice and storage. I know that they will pick up a bit of information due to who I call and/or who calls me, and I've got to go through my Contacts there and take email addresses away from phone numbers before 3/1.

Search. I've just started using StartPage as my "go to" search tool; they are totally about privacy. And in just this past week they've set up a real nice browser side (in FireFox anyways) search, wherein StartPage loads with other search engines I've got listed in the dropdown. But not only is StartPage listed, it's kept all of my own set-ups for it saved off to a "safe" cookie, a cookie that won't get blown out when cookies are eaten each time I close down FireFox. I'm not going to go too long in describing it here, it's on their page, head over there and read about it; it's worth your time, IMO.

Also, and just in the past couple of days, StartPage has started including Google search results but with any/all of your information stripped before it gets too Google -- the goods of Googles search engine without losing your anonymity. Sweet. I'm all about it.

COD: " It's $24 a year per user, although I've never upgraded to paid because free does everything I need, with no ads."

I was *really* leaning toward Zoho, as they do everything I'd want done and do it free for my needs, and no tracking my every move. Zoho loads slow, or so it seems to me, though I have to say that I've just started digging around in it, and I might be wrong. It's got an interface wherein *everything* starts from the Mail app, so that will always have to be open, no problem to me but it might be for you. It's a pretty set-up, and no, it's not the latest implementation of MicroSoft Office or anything but it'll do most of what I'd ever need done in an online software package.

I absolutely know that they are all about customer service, even on an account that they are not making any money on (all of my bitty needs are taken care of in their free offering.) About a year ago I was having some trouble signing in one acct, somehow I'd opened two, deleted one and blah blah blah, it was a mess. The next morning I had email, from a real live person, telling me exactly what they saw, what I needed to do, and why. On a free acount. Unreal.

How are they on spam, Zoho I mean? I do not know. I don't know that anyone is going to get as good at that as Google is though, an amazing organization out there. It'd be great to have email run through Google to strip everything off of it (all spam I mean) and then forward it on to another client, but then Google still has all the goods off of your email, incoming anyways. Anyone reading this has any ideas on this, plz do let us know.

I just wish Google hadn't gone back on their whole "Don't be evil" credo. But here it is again -- if a service is *free* then we are the product that's for sale.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:16 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, I tried to import my calendar from Google to Zoho -- no luck, at least not for me, might be I was holding my mouth wrong or something.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:21 PM on February 23, 2012

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