Need a Not-Evil Email Provider?

Changing your email provider? Concerned about surveillance and misaligned incentives of a free account at Google, Microsoft, Apple and the like? I'll tell you what I think.

You might have heard, “If you're not paying for the product, you are the product.” It means when they give us email “for free”, their real customers (advertisers) are paying them for our data, buying our attention, buying our loyalty.

If you want not-evil, you have to pay for it.

(Thanks for that quote, Adrian!)

My choice: I use and recommend FastMail, . Australian company with good world-wide coverage and credentials. Their “standard” package at around £5/month.

Own Domain

Call Me By My Name

Before you sign up with any provider, take a moment to consider one thing. If you are leaving a free provider, you have to change your email address. Why? Because you didn't own your address, they did. So you can't take it with you. You have to change it to a new one.

But now, if you're willing to pay for email at all, this is your opportunity: you can make a huge leap to future-proof yourself, by moving to your own domain. (More about #ownDomain.)

After choosing and registering your own (or family) domain name with a domain name registrar (around £1 — £2 a month), you can use that for email. You can Bring Your Own Domain to an email provider and ask them to provide email service on it. That's how I run my own email address, at my family domain name, through Fastmail. That way, one day if when an email provider closes down or becomes unfavourable — like how I once thought gmail was lovely and later changed to the opposite view — then we can migrate to another provider without all the hassle associated with changing address.

Being addressed as me@my-domain makes me feel good. It's so much nicer than being known as my-name@somebody-elses-company.

Alternative Alias Addresses

On such a plan, I can create “aliases” for free. I made an “our-initials@our-domain” alias which redirects to both my and my wife's addresses, which is useful for shopping and family activities. They only charge per mailbox where mail is delivered (I have exactly one mailbox), no extra charge for these “redirection aliases” or for additional addresses that deliver to the same mail box.

See also my short post Own-Domain Email with Fastmail – Pros and Cons in which I also talk about my choice of freedom/libre/open-source mail client software (K-9 Mail, Thunderbird, Mailspring).


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