Hosted email provider?
July 29, 2014 12:02 PM   Subscribe

My email is hosted on, using their recently discontinued service. It's fine, but I'm concerned that eventually, MS will stop supporting existing accounts using the service. What's a good hosted IMAP email service that's reliable, supports domains and aliases, and is relatively simple to configure?

Fastmail was a pain to work with and the spam filtering was horrible. Office365/hosted Exchange are very tough to configure and feel like overkill. I'm trying to avoid Google services, but I want something simple like Gmail or Outlook, but that I pay for. This is just for a single email account, by the way.
posted by lbotkins to Technology (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Came in here to recommend Fastmail, but oh well I guess. FWIW I've had nothing but a positive experience.
posted by wrok at 12:17 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I use the paid-for Google Apps email with my domains. It's worked flawlessly for at least 5 years now, and the spam filtering is the best I've used.
posted by pipeski at 12:36 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Google apps e-mail is great, except when you have to deal with using them in conjunction with someone else's exchange server. That edge case applied to some of our senior staff and it was a dealbreaker.

Rackspace has been pretty solid for us, we used hosted exchange, but they do offer a cheaper option if you don't need all of the bells and whistles
posted by Oktober at 12:42 PM on July 29, 2014

Polarismail is $12 a year for one account. Possible bonus of being a Canadian company hosting outside of the US, if that sort of thing is important to you.
posted by COD at 12:44 PM on July 29, 2014

Response by poster: Have you used Polarismail? That was on my list.
posted by lbotkins at 2:51 PM on July 29, 2014

I've used Polarismail for the past three or four years and it's been great. Spam filtering isn't quite as good as Gmail, but it's not terrible, either. When I've had questions, they've gotten back to me quickly and helpfully.
posted by sportbucket at 5:04 PM on July 29, 2014

Yes, I used Polarismail for a while. Only reason I'm not still there is I consolidated email services to my web host, who while not as good as Polarismail, is good enough for me. I'm pretty sure Polarismail has a free 30 day trial.
posted by COD at 6:34 PM on July 29, 2014

Not sure if it quite fits the bill, but I've been using Zoho for a while now. Spam filtering isn't gmail-level, but otherwise it's been good.
posted by sibilatorix at 6:48 PM on July 29, 2014

Been using for at least 10 years. Pricey, almost zero downtime, good spam control with fine gradations.
posted by Jesse the K at 7:59 PM on July 29, 2014

My experience of Fastmail does not match your experience.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:24 PM on July 29, 2014

Get a domain with gandi? Hosted in France. They offer Roundcube and IMAP with a domain, as far as I know.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:23 AM on July 30, 2014

My experience with Fastmail is apparently also much better than yours; I've found them absolutely straightforward and trouble-free. What was the painful part for you, and what was it that you found horrible about the spam filter?
posted by flabdablet at 7:24 AM on July 30, 2014

Response by poster: The FM documentation wasn't great, I didn't understand their "personalities" concept, and I couldn't get two-factor authentication working. I have an old, public-facing email address that's inundated with spam and FM was letting a lot of it through to the inbox.

In terms of sending and receiving email, it worked well, and it was solid, but not ideal for me.
posted by lbotkins at 11:31 AM on July 30, 2014

I've never used Fastmail but I imagine their documentation is more customer-focused than Polarismail. Polarismail is awesome and a great bargain compared to Fastmail, but their focus seems to be hosting email for a small team or entire company, and I've found their admin tools to be a little clunky for my single mailbox.

Another option I've heard nothing but good things about is Rackspace. They're literally twice as expensive as Polarismail, but they're still far cheaper than Fastmail. I've heard Rackspace has great support. No 2-factor authentication, though. I think only Fastmail and Google offer that.

I also wanted to throw in a general recommendation for keeping your domain registration, email, and web hosting all separate. That way if your web host melts down -- and let me tell you from experience, web hosts tend to melt down at the worst times -- you won't lose access to your email. I even keep my DNS separate, but that might be overkill for you.
posted by sportbucket at 12:43 PM on July 30, 2014

How long ago did you try Fastmail? Their present documentation strikes me as comprehensive and straightforward.

I'm not using 2FA because reasons, so I can't speak to the difficulty of getting Fastmail's to work. However, it looks like this is something they will in any case be reworking soon:
This seems like a pain to set up. Couldn't you make it easier?

Yes, absolutely! Whilst secure and very flexible, our alternative logins system was created a long time ago and is quite convoluted. We intend to replace it with a much easier, and more usual, 2FA setup later this year.
Fastmail's "personalities" are the same thing as "identities" in a typical non-Web email client: a way to use multiple From: addresses with a single email account. For example, I have both my work email and my old Gmail account redirecting to my present Fastmail account, on which three personalities exist:, and the default personality I can send mails with any of these as their From: address, and on replies the Fastmail web client will default to using the one that matches the To: address on the mail being replied to.

As you can see I am completely unfussed about making my personal email addresses public, and I find myself needing to mark one or two mails as spam every three or four days. Fastmail's spam filter is not quite as aggressive as Gmail's by default, but I haven't turned it up (which is quite possible) because as things stand I'm not bothered by the amount I get and in the year I've had my Fastmail account I've not had a single false positive.

If it's been a couple of years since you last looked at Fastmail, I unreservedly recommend giving them another go.
posted by flabdablet at 5:12 PM on July 30, 2014

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