From G Suite to… new e-mail hosting service
February 2, 2022 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I've got a legacy free G Suite account hosting my e-mail with my own domain name. Google is going to start charging for this. While I'm not opposed to paying for the service, it's a good occasion to consider other options.

About my setup: Mac/iPhone user. I use Apple's own Mail clients, with plugins on the Mac (SmallCubed mail suite). I almost never use Gmail's web interface. I understand Gmail's tagging system, but I basically use that as hierarchical folders. Two people with accounts on the domain, plus an "exploder" address for reaching both of us. Use iCloud for address books and personal calendars. I would prefer to keep my setup intact.

I'm aware of Protonmail and Fastmail; from what I've been reading, Protonmail's encryption makes the service a little jankier when using a desktop client. I understand that iCloud would be an option. So is staying put, of course. Pricing seems to be in the area of $60-75/year/account for all of them, so not a major deciding factor.

I'm curious what the pros and cons of the various options are, any gotchas I might encounter when switching, and what options I'm missing.
posted by adamrice to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
One option you might want to consider is ZoHo. It seems like good value for money (or free, if that works for your usage).
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:46 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

I'm also a fan of Zoho. Super simple, and it's nice to not give additional money to Google. I used their free account for a long time, and upgraded to their $24/year plan last year. I use the web interface on my desktop and their app on my phone, so I don't know how they work with Apple's mail client. But their help desk is responsive and helpful.
posted by hydra77 at 9:55 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

In no order of preference
  • Fastmail: Australian, lots of options & support, but not encrypted
  • ZoHo: Indian - cheaper, has IMAP so you can use whatever client you like & claims to be secure
  • Tutanota: German, No IMAP so have to use their client on iOS, more privacy focused
  • not applicable here but if security was your primary focused: ProtonMail: Swiss, limited email client support
Jurisdiction listed as I think it's an important consideration for email services.
posted by zenon at 10:08 AM on February 2

A previous question that may interest you.

I use Fastmail for my email and calendar; here is a referrer link that saves you 10% off your first year. Very solid, has a mobile app and a web version but also integrates with my desktop email application, has good personal customer support when I need it. I use Fastmail as the email platform with my own domain name and it works completely fine; I believe I was able to do everything with a minimum of fuss based on their documentation. Fastmail also includes cloud files storage and notes storage. And the company contributes to the new JMAP email standard, which I like particularly as it implies they're going to continue to build new JMAP-based features in the future instead of forking off into their own world the way Hey did/does.

Fastmail does not currently integrate with Calendly, in case that is a disadvantage for you.
posted by brainwane at 10:19 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]

I'm in a similar position, but it sounds like I rely on a wider range of Google services than you do.

My domain provider (Gandi) offers email servers with a number of mailboxes for free with my domain, and yours might too.

So I could keep using Gmail apps and keep my custom domain name, but use my domain host's servers to send and receive email.
  • for receiving, this would work by either forwarding mail from Gandi to Gmail, or setting Gmail to collect email from Gandi's servers via POP3. The POP3 collection interval can be slow and is not within your control, so forwarding is probably better — but there are potential gotchas around forwarding spam (worst case is Gmail could block your domain), and you have to start understanding SPF and DKIM records which is tiresome.
  • Gmail now supports sending mail from a custom domain via your host's SMTP server, without requiring a Google Workspace account.
The upside is this is free, but the downside is obviously you no longer have Google beardos taking responsibility for the myriad anti-spam technologies that ensure your mail actually gets delivered 100% of the time. Hosting providers can sometimes be blocklisted, which would be a total pain to resolve.

You mention email but there are other "core Workspace services" where your data will be lost if you don't start paying:
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Contacts
  • 'Google Docs', 'Google Sheets', 'Google Slides', 'Google Forms'
  • 'Google Drive'
  • 'Google Hangouts', 'Google Chat', 'Google Meet'
  • Google Jamboard
  • Google Keep
  • Google Sites
  • Google Tasks
  • 'Google Voice
There's obviously lots of other non-core Google services, such as Maps and map history, YouTube and playlists and watch history, Chrome user data, and Google logins to third-party sites, etc. And any Google Play store purchases if you were an Android user. These will stay in your Google account even if you don't pay for Workspace. But if you were setting up a free personal Google account to be able to keep using Gmail, you might want to migrate all your Google data to one Google account.
posted by Klipspringer at 10:30 AM on February 2

I use Apple Mail and Calendar and moved over to iCloud for my personal domain a couple months ago and it was easier than I expected it to be and everything works just fine.

A few notes:
  • I used Google Takeout to download all my emails and then I imported the mbox file into Mail and I can search everything and it threads things correctly, too.
  • My (former) Gmail address happened to be my Apple ID, unsure if this made it easier.
  • On services like Calendly I have to sign-in with my email address even though it's for my personal domain.

posted by 10ch at 10:41 AM on February 2

Just making you aware that there's discussion of this topic on r/gsuite.
posted by kickingtheground at 10:46 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]

There's one advantage to using Fastmail with Apple's built-in mail application on iOS – you can get instant push notifications of new mail if that's important to you. Most other email providers that provide just IMAP don't include the extra Apple notification special sauce, so they require you to set things up to poll for new mail periodically.
posted by zsazsa at 12:38 PM on February 2

I'll be watching this closely as I am in the same situation, but with multiple email users (four total). I have another account just for myself at Fastmail, which is good, but expensive for so many users.

We also have a family Microsoft 360 account, and I'm seeing that they make personal domains available through as well, so I've been thinking of exploring that.
posted by lhauser at 12:54 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Depending on your usage (non-commercial and small) there may be a happy ending (sorry) at Google.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:57 PM on February 2

Polarismail is $1/mo for a 25 GB IMAP/POP account with webmail. They claim I need to upgrade to $2/mo to get caldev and carddev syncing for calendars and contacts, but I have found it works with one particular webmail calendar just fine without upgrading. I've been with them for 4 years and have had zero issues.
posted by COD at 2:20 PM on February 2

Seconding JohnnyGunn there - I got notifications that the GSuite stuff will be free for a few months and then 50% off ($3/acct versus $6/acct) for a year starting in July, so you have more time. You will have to be signed into your GSuite admin account to see what the discount options are (evidently they may be different depending - mine was 50% for that account). Kinda wish that would have happened earlier as I already migrated one of my GSuite accounts out to Microsoft 365 Business Standard. (That is also an option. But, as a sort of anti-recommendation: I went with 365 Business Standard because it comes with actual Office, as in the actual Windows and macOS apps, and a few other things - but it is a migration I absolutely would not recommend doing unless you're a professional IT person or have one that's willing to spend a couple days working on it. I am - though I am not a Windows or Exchange admin type - and thought that process was very difficult. Note that this specifically is not or the 365 Family options, which are very different.)
posted by mrg at 8:14 AM on February 3

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