After reading Luis Villa’s concerns about how little Google values our privacy, I decided leaving Google services as well. In fact, I already left Gmail 1.5 year ago, not (only) because of privacy concerns, but because I was simply not satisfied with its IMAP support.
Call me old fashioned if you will, but I want an offline cache of my email. IMAP is of course the best protocol for that, but Google doesn’t support IMAP very well. They use folders as an offline implementation of their tagging feature, instead of actually using IMAP tags. This means downloading messages multiple times, which is not funny at all. And then, there is Philip Van Hoof saying [Google’s] IMAP server is probably one of the poorest imaginable. (Edit: See also this rant by Opera Software’s lead QA for Opera Mail.)
I don’t feel like running my own email server, either on my computer or in the cloud, so I went with FastMail. Their email solution is not free of cost, unless you keep very little email, but I find their price and service fair enough. I think that the only catch is, I didn’t go for the most expensive plan, so I can’t keep arbitrarily large attachments from many years ago. That’s OK for me. I download the important attachments to my hard drive and use a proper backup instead; and I can still keep the respective email messages.
I still have my Gmail account, which redirects to the FastMail one. I just don’t give my Gmail address to anyone these days, and I don’t use their SMTP server any more. I miss the conversation view, but I found out I can live without it. I reimplemented Gmail’s archive with an “Archive” folder inside Inbox, but latter it grew too big and I split it in one folder for each year.
I gave up most of my tags during the migration, because I didn’t really use them to search the email archive. For the remaining tags, I used the extended tagging feature of IMAP. I have less then 5 tags, so I could use the standard ones, but Evolution and Thunderbird have the same default names for these 5 tags, so I decided to just not change them. FastMail doesn’t really provide a way for me to set or see tags in their web interface, but that’s OK for me, because I use primarily Evolution to check and manage my email. The important thing is that FastMail doesn’t brake my tags. Sadly, OfflineIMAP doens’t implement these arbitrary tags yet, so I can’t use it to relay my email.
I’d love to know about other email solutions. I’m not really considering a move any time soon, but the discussion could be very interesting for current Gmail users.
Update: My username at FastMail.fm is leonardof. If you subscribe to the service, please inform me as the referer. Not that I’ll receive much for it, but that’s an interesting way to know if people are actually using FastMail.