So far, I’m really happy. The services are relatively inexpensive, and the features compare well with Google, both in terms of space as well as functionality that I used. The best thing is that Fastmail offers a real, simple, plain vanilla IMAP implementation, which means it works a lot better with my iPhone and OS X’s Mail.app without weird label/folder/all mail strangeness.
MailRoute’s best feature is the quarantine summary email. Basically, each morning (or any interval you define), MailRoute sends an email listing mail it blocked that might be legit. Each email listed has a link to recover the mail and/or whitelist the sender. So, from there, I can quickly recover false positives without logging in and trolling through dozens of obvious spam emails.
I’m really happy with the setup, and with a lot of the surrounding email cleanup this prompted – I consolidated a few addresses and unsubscribed from a lot of newsletters/marketing crap I wasn’t reading anyway.
On the spam front, it’s just a tiny, tiny bit worse than what I had with Google. There are fewer false positives (legit email that ends up in the spam folder) and once in a while, a spam message makes it into the inbox. There are knobs and controls to twiddle with if that bothered me, but so far I’m not motivated to fix it – it’s just not enough of an inconvenience that it bothers me.
Whys and Wherefores
Both Fastmail & MailRoute are paid services, while my use of Google Apps for Domains/Business/Work/whatever-its-called-today was free. So, why did I do this?
I had a long, rambling explanation written talking about tracking and the ad market and evercookies and super cookies and why this bothered me, but I’ll summarize all of this with a few images. These are all the third party elements loaded when you visit a major online site like people.com:
Step down to a smaller publication that has to be more creative about ad networks or revenue, like, say the Norwich Bulletin:
Tell me the business models and privacy policies of all of those third party sites. I’m in the industry and even I don’t recognize them all.
While most of the top 10-20 online sites are pretty good about restricting the partners they work with, ad retargeting and related ad models are getting more popular, all of which require tracking you as you wander around the web.
I just want to browse the Internet without a simple Google search or visit to an Amazon product page, for example, following me around the Internet for the next few days. So, that means not relying on services that need that data unless I have no choice. 2
Email is only one of the things I’m looking at removing. I’m testing out DuckDuckGo instead of Google Search.3 I’m also contemplating writing/installing/tweaking a web analytics package to get rid of Google Analytics. That’s a bigger time commitment, though, so I may just need to find one with a better privacy stance.
Why Fastmail and MailRoute?
There are a lot of services out there and, if I’m being honest, I didn’t do a ton of research on this one. Just too busy these days. I heard about both of these services over the last few months from the Accidental Tech Podcast (MailRoute sponsored them a few times, I think), and co-host Marco Arment has blogged about them a few times.4
So, I basically just ran with that recommendation after pricing it out and deciding that the $5-6/month was worth it. A little more privacy (plus the better/different features) for a little bit of money seems like a fair tradeoff.
Like I said, it’s been about a month and I’m very happy so far.
My @gmail.com address can’t be moved, and I’m keeping it. While I’m shifting most of that email to my main address, I’ll still use it for some things.↩
I still can’t justify/rationalize quitting Facebook or Twitter. Moving email providers was easy. Yay, standards!↩
so far, Google just seems better, especially for technical/programming searches. I haven’t switched over to DDG yet.↩
That post, by the way, expresses a lot of what I like about this setup↩