"receive with simplicity everything that happens to you" ~ Rashi

Switching to FastMail

I finally took the plunge and subscribed for a year of Fastmail’s email service. I’ve been looking for a new email provider for sometime. Trying more and more to slowly leave Google’s ecosystem towards something more open and less controlled by a huge corporation.

So why Fastmail? Well, many reasons:

  • its a small company, focused on email, and with a good record on it
  • its a company that seems to support (and improve!) standards instead of creating its own thing
  • it includes calendar, contacts, file storage and notes (these last two I don’t use so much, but its a nice to have)
  • the sync is made through well known and open protocols (webdav, caldav, carddav, ftp)
  • the price is great, the support is great (I tried it during the trial)
  • the features are great! (really, try the trial!)

For sync’ing the contacts and calendar with my android phone I am currently using OpenSync (which is opensource). There are other apps but not free. You also don’t need to use any apps to sync if all you need is email. But android doesn’t support carddav and caldav by default, so in my case I needed something to help in that.

I’ve subscribed to the basic plan which includes “only” 2Gb of storage for email and 1Gb for files. This might seem too low, but I actually think its a positive restriction. We have all grown used to the “unlimited” feeling of email storage which results in a huge pile of useless junk.

Fastmail has some pretty great features that help me maintain my emails organized and trimmed. For instance, I can specify that a specific folder should delete its messages after X days (which is a default setting in the ‘trash’ folder). There are plenty of email conversations that I don’t want to archive for later, but don’t want to delete either as the conversation is going on or the topic is unresolved. I am a GTD advocate, so leaving emails in the Inbox is a no-go. I decided to create a “Temporary” archive folder, which deletes messages after 30 days. So I just move stuff there while its going on, and if after 30 days there are no updates, it’s deleted. (warning: please read the update at the end)

Fastmail also recentely introduced a “snooze” feature, which brings emails back to the inbox after a specified interval. This was a great feature of Google’s Inbox, loved by many and – god knows why – was killed.

All in all, I’m really enjoying my new email! 3 out of my 5 accounts are already being forwarded/imported to Fastmail, which means I’m using Fastmail more than Gmail. I intend to move the rest until the end of the year, and eventually phase out a few of these addresses.

Update

After publishing this post, I was contacted by Fastmail CTO Ricardo Signes pointing out that the delete-after-x-days feature might not work exactly how I expected it to. Here’s Ricardo explanation:

Any message (not conversation) that’s in a folder with that setting will be destroyed. So, imagine you start a conversation on January 1, and every two days there is a new message in it, either from you or a friend, and they’re all in this folder. On February 1, the first message will become ripe for deletion, even though the thread is still being updated. I imagine you, in mid-February, going to look for an earlier message in this still-active conversation and finding it gone. Ack! So, maybe this is okay with you, but if not… now you know!

So I guess the big difference is that the features applies to individual messages and not conversations as a whole. Not big deal for my case. Since I only use this folder for stuff that is safe to be deleted its fine to loose some messages if 30 days have passed. Besides all replies include the previous messages in the body, just in case its needed, so nothing is really lost.

PS – this is why Fastmail team is amazing!

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