Advice please on plans to "pivot" email service and cloud storage
February 27, 2021 5:50 PM   Subscribe

I currently use Google email accounts with Android devices and Thunderbird on Windows 10 machines. I have Dropbox free level. I'm planning to abandon the paid Google emails and Google Drive storage and go to Fastmail, and also upgrade to Dropbox Plus level. Questions within about pros/cons of my proposed approach, and I welcome any other advice or tips.

Currently I own a domain and pay Google to process my email (2 users, 2 aliases), and pay Wordpress for a blog using my domain also. Google Drive also gives each user 30 gig cloud space. My wife and I also have old free Google accounts that have been tied to our phones forever. We look at our free Gmails on our phones, and also manage all/any email on our Windows 10 machines using Thunderbird and POP3 Port 995. We seldom if ever use the Gmail Web browser interface.

Short term I do not plan to leave the Google-verse due to my phones and tablets. Privacy would be nice but I think that ship has sailed years ago (for us). I was just thinking of "pivoting" a bit, and would like people's thoughts.
  • For email, the simplest thing to do (headache wise) would be to create the equivalent of my paid 2 users/2 aliases on Fastmail Standard (about same price as we're paying now), and then migrate to them (advising my contacts, changing accounts, etc.) and eventually shut down those 4 Google email addresses. I gather Fastmail does support Secure POP3 though they prefer IMAP.
  • For cloud, I can use Google Takeout to convert all my gdoc files to docx, and then to markdown via Pandoc and then into Joplin which replaced my old Evernote account. I currently have Joplin set-up on my free (max 2 gig) Dropbox account, but as part of this I plan to upgrade to Dropbox Plus (far more cloud storage than Google Drive). I have tons of PDFs (e-books, technical docs, etc.) and I already use Cloud Player for music.
The disadvantage of the above is that I'd end up using my domain only for the blog. To avoid that (i.e., keep the domain email addresses) I would have to have a "tighter" cut-over from Gmail to Fastmail (both DNS and human/company notifications). That sounds like a real headache, but maybe it's doable?

Please share any Android apps that help with Fastmail, etc. Also, feel free to vote for any other services you personally like. I am obviously not doing this to save money, but to make my/our on-line experience a little more pleasant. I even have some more money (i.e., annual cost) left in my budget for this project.

I have reviewed two relatively recent AskMetafilter threads: this and this but this is kind of a "snowflake" situation (I think?).
posted by forthright to Technology (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You should be able to point the MX at fastmail, and at the same time, have the gmail account also forward all mail to fastmail until everything points at the new MX for a seamless transfer and all your contacts would see no change.

The default mail client on android should be able to connect to fastmail inboxes.
posted by nickggully at 7:36 PM on February 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I am no expert but I have gone from fast mail to Google for reasons. It was as simple as what nickggully described above. As far as I know I did not lose any emails. But I guess you don't know what you don't know.

On my Android devices (Pixel and OnePlus) I actually use the Gmail app for Gmail (natch) AND for some other accounts not hosted by Gmail. If you are happy with the app, you can probably keep using it with fastmail. I also use an app called Edison Email that I really like. It is often faster than the Gmail app. I have the same accounts on both apps.
posted by AugustWest at 9:02 PM on February 27, 2021

Best answer: When I jumped ship from Gmail to Fastmail, the way I set up forwarding on the Gmail side was with a filter, not their obvious forwarding facility. The filter I use looks like


Generate your own random string from the link above, then use it only for this and nothing else ever. This gives you a very strong guarantee that every email ever sent to you will have a To: field that does not contain your unique random string, and this will make the negated test above match every email.

Mails that match this filter, which is all of them, get forwarded to my Fastmail address, then marked as read and moved to Trash on Gmail.

The point of doing it this way is that Gmail's content filters run before its spam classifier. So with this filter in place, everything gets forwarded to your Fastmail account, including spam; the only spam classifier looking at your mails will be Fastmail's, not Google's. Which means you will never have to log on to Gmail just to track down those errant confirmation mails and other false positives, and can just pull them out of your Fastmail spam folder.

I was going to shut my Gmail account down but I never did get around to it; and every now and then I have had contact from people I'm glad to hear from who apparently took no notice of the email blast I sent out with my new address in it.

Fastmail's own Android app is what I have on my phone, but anything that supports secure IMAP will work fine.

Fastmail Standard lets you use your own domain name. If you migrate your existing mails and set up forwarding before messing with your domain's MX records, the cutover should be seamless.
posted by flabdablet at 1:44 AM on February 28, 2021 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks folks, this is all very useful.

- Ahhh yeah, nickggully, the idea of setting up forwarding and then changing my MX records didn't occur to me.
- And flabdablet that's a nice trick using an inverse Gmail filter in combo with forwarding so Fastmail "sees" the spam (I now see Fastmail's setup page saying it's better for them to "see" the spam, I suppose for "training").
- And thanks all of you for the Android app advice.

Also, based on these points (assuming I'm right) that:
- since the actual cutover will be relatively quick (a few days at most), and
- we don't (today) check our domain mail on our phones
- the free Gmail accounts remain for use on our phones
- Thunderbird on our Windows machines has all our past email from all our email accounts, and once I make the POP3 changes will start including the domain Fastmail in the same folders as I currently use for domain Gmail

then that means:
- I should set-up Fastmail with the 4 addresses a bit early (as much as possible)
- there's no reason to notify anyone using our domain email addresses
- no reason to keep paying Gmail for domain email handling after a buffer month or so (since I can't see DNS routing any of my domain's email to Gmail that late)
- but I probably need to be careful about Replying to any emails that were in that "window" since I also noticed a place in Fastmail's doc where they talk about outgoing SMTP aliases.

Thanks for all your help, I'll wait a little bit before marking best answers and closing the question in case anything I said above is wrong or anybody else comes in to give advice.
posted by forthright at 7:38 AM on February 28, 2021

I now see Fastmail's setup page saying it's better for them to "see" the spam, I suppose for "training"

Maybe. I've found Fastmail's spam filter to work about as well as Google's, which is to say extremely well. Main thing for me was not having to look in two different places for the inevitable false positives, especially after having deleted all my contact info from my Gmail account.

Fastmail's web interface has been good enough, and most importantly stable enough, that for the last five years I've been using that instead of Thunderbird on my desktop boxes. Thunderbird gets fired up every month or so to make my email backups, but that's about it.
posted by flabdablet at 6:02 PM on February 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

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