I started switching from Gmail to FastMail back in May of last year. I’ve been using FastMail as my main personal email account now for about six months, and it’s been working fine. I’ve got no regrets about switching. I was actively working on switching my many online accounts over to using my FastMail address through most of May and June. I hit a few snags, but I’d say that I got about 90% of them switched over by the end of June. After that, I’d switch over a straggler here and there, as they came up, but I was about 90% on FastMail.

To start this year off, I thought I’d go the next step and finally migrate all of my old Gmail messages over into my FastMail account. I did that on New Year’s day, using FastMail’s import tool. It took about 4.5 hours. I had a little over 40,000 emails in my Gmail account. That’s a little over 2 GB. My FastMail account now has about 2.5 GB used, so about 10% of my 25 GB limit. The migration went smoothly, and everything (as far as I can tell) got pulled over cleanly, with no obvious issues. I definitely have some duplicate emails in there, since I had messages with multiple Gmail tags on them, and FastMail sees tags as folders. But I have enough room that I don’t really need to worry about that.

I have also, finally, set Gmail to forward new email to FastMail, so I don’t really need to check my Gmail account at all anymore. At some point, I’m going to go into Gmail and delete all the old mail out of the account, but I’m not in a big hurry to do that. I also haven’t set Gmail to delete new mail after forwarding it, though I might do that eventually.

As long as I was going along this path, I decided to also look into consolidating my other accounts into FastMail. I have way too many email accounts, honestly. I have a POP3 account from my cable internet provider. That used to be my primary email account, years ago, before Gmail even existed. They have no built-in way to forward it to another account, so I have FastMail set up to collect mail from it via POP3, periodically. That works fine. I get very little mail in that account these days.

Then there’s my outlook.com account. I briefly considered switching to Outlook.com Premium rather than FastMail, but decided against it. Premium was a half-baked product when I first evaluated it. It appears to have gotten a little better, but I still wouldn’t recommend it. I went as far as actually setting it up with my own domain (the same one I’m using with FastMail now). That was a mistake, since there was no way to unhook it once it was set up. So, ever since then, outlook.com has assumed it was handling that domain, and that I simply had it misconfigured (rather than having purposely pointed it to FastMail). They have, finally, added the ability to unlink a custom domain, so I did that last week. And I set the account to forward to FastMail and delete forwarded messages. So I can stop worrying about that account now, I think. (I don’t actually want to delete the account, since I’m not sure if I can do that without messing up my Microsoft ID, which I do actually need, for my Office 365 subscription and other stuff.)

I also have an iCloud account. I’ve had that one since back when it was “.Mac”. (2002 maybe?) I’ve never really used it for anything other than Apple-related email. This is another one I probably can’t rid of, since it’s tied to my Apple ID and all that stuff. But I’ve now set that one to forward to FastMail, and migrated what little mail I had in there to FastMail. (i’d have a lot more mail in there if I hadn’t lost a bunch of it a few years ago, but that’s another story.)

I have a Yahoo mail address too, which is the address I give out when I need to give my address to someone I really don’t want to get email from. (For instance, most retail stores.) So that one just sits there piling up with spam from Foot Locker and other random stores I bought a pair of socks from once. I don’t really want to forward that one to FastMail, so I’ll just leave it as it is.

So now I’m largely in control of my email, with my own domain, under a paid account from a stable provider whose main business is email. (Which was the main idea of this whole thing, though I kind of lost track of that at some point.)

I’ve also added my FastMail account to Outlook 2016 on my PC and the Apple Mail client on my MacBook. I’ve been primarily interacting with FastMail through their web interface (and through their iOS app), but I thought it would be useful to link it to a couple of desktop email programs, as a bit of a backup. Since it’s an IMAP account, though, a desktop email program really doesn’t count as much of a backup. The program is just reflecting what’s on the server, so if a bunch of mail was accidentally deleted, the program would just mirror that when it synced. I’m thinking about various email archive and backup solutions, both for PC and Mac. On the PC side, MailStore Home seems to be the obvious candidate. Or I could just create a .PST archive file in Outlook and copy my old mail to it. I have a few .PST archive files already, from old POP3 accounts (from back in the good old dial-up internet days). On the Mac side, EagleFiler looks interesting, though not exactly what I want. Email Archiver Pro is also a possibility, and maybe a little closer to what I need.