Switching to Fastmail

Fastmail is a paid email service. Why pay for email when there are so many free services?

This started because I don't feel great about having my personal communications used to fuel an advertising machine. Since making the switch, I feel increased ownership of my online identity. I'm also not comfortable with the degree of influence Google has over internet standards. If Google wanted to “embrace and extend” IMAP tomorrow, it's within their power to do so.

I like the idea that alternatives like Fastmail exist and I want to support that while I can. There are other alternatives, but I chose Fastmail because they provide IMAP access. I use my own clients via IMAP today and I'd like to keep doing that. Fastmail also has a great web interface (just in case) and lots of tutorials and documentation. I may eventually stop using my Gmail account, but for now that's just not feasible.

Baby steps.

Setting Up

I signed up for the 30-day trial at Fastmail and used their import tool to import my email from Google. It was super easy. I registered a new domain at Namecheap to use for my email address. To use this domain for my Fastmail account, I simply referenced Fastmail's name servers in the configuration at my registrar. Also pretty easy.

Client Configuration

I use mutt on my desktop machine and K-9 Mail on my phone. I elected to let Fastmail keep fetching my mail from Gmail. That way, I can let each client track only my Fastmail account.

I created an app-specific password for K-9 Mail and set up a new account in the client. Once that was set up, I removed my Gmail account from K-9 Mail.

Setting up isync, I only had to change the obvious stuff from my Gmail configuration (username, password, paths) and now it works like a charm. I also had to update my .muttrc to point at the folders managed by isync.

Next Steps

I'll have to write up a little note for my frequent contacts. I'm going to keep fetching mail from my Gmail account, so they don't have to do anything if they don't want to.

I wonder how many services let you change the email address on your account. I've read that using a password manager should make this easier. Again, as long as I have my Gmail account, I don't have to change anything.

Have you ever punched someone's email domain into a web browser just to see what's there? Fastmail have anticipated this and will let you set up a static website or a simple redirect. I've set mine to redirect to this site.