✉ Migrating email to new services

For a decade and a half I’ve been hosting email for folks. I’m not going to do that any longer, I’m done hosting email. This note contains information on next steps for all those folks, so they get their email moved to a new service.

Cool things to keep in mind: you won’t lose mail, and your mail delivery won’t be interrupted.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You choose a new email provider and create an account there; this produces a new address for you
  2. Move your existing mail into your new account
  3. We set up email forwarding to your new address

For steps 1 and 2 I will work with you to make prudent choices, and I will handle step 3.

Choosing an email provider

The first step to choosing an email provider is ensuring the company hosting your email is an email hosting company, and not a business that provides email as a way to capture customers for exploitation. For instance, Google is an advertisement company, and therefore their email service should be avoided.

Here is what I tell most people about email: Gandi and Fastmail.

Use Gandi (https://www.gandi.net/) if you need a domain name you control for your email. Each domain registration comes with free inboxes, and their email service is fine. This is the least expensive way to create many email addresses for your friends and family.

Use Fastmail (https://www.fastmail.com) is you need more than basic email. They provide domains you may use, or you may use your own (I recommend you register it at Gandi, still).

I use Gandi for domain registration and non-human inboxes (Discourse reply-by-email inboxes, for instance) and Fastmail for my inbox (support@maiki.xyz).

It doesn’t really matter to me, however, the email will forward to any standard email address. :slight_smile:

Migrating mail messages

There are two ways email moves between accounts:

  1. The new account has an importer tool that logs into the old mail account and magic
  2. You download all your mail in an email client on your computer, and then upload it all to your new account

When possible, choose option 1. Fastmail has option 1. When you have to choose option 2, you should probably choose Thunderbird; it’s the unsexy email tool for the people, and it gets the job done.

There is a 3rd option, which is what I do: delete your mail. What are you gonna do, carry it around forever? I’m not!

Forwarding email

Finally, after your new account is operational, we’ll ensure future mail going to your “old address” are forwarded to your new address. At this point you have a few options:

  1. Relive the good ol’ days and send mail from your old address, continuing the illusion you are using an email address that is a forwarding alias and nothing else…
  2. Start sending mail as your new address, occasionally explaining the change, and don’t overthink it too much, it’s just email
  3. Sort all mail sent to your old address into a folder which you systematically process to ensure all your contacts are up to date and also unsubscribe from all those newsletters, you don’t even read them!

Why have the forwarding alias at all? Well, I don’t want to make anyone’s life hard because they missed out on some correspondence that was critical to their success, so this helps you gain control of your email while ensuring you may be contacted to pay your student loans and invited to Zoom school reunions.

You and I have an agreement that as long as I maintain the domain for your old address, I will work with you and only you to forward email sent to that email alias. That’s why I think it is prudent for you to move on from using the old address if possible. :slight_smile: