Moving Away From Gmail is Harder Than You Think

Back In June, I wrote about how I wanted to bring it all in-house and host all my own cloud services. So far things are going well, and I’ve replaced a lot of my previous 3rd party cloud services. But moving away from Gmail is the holy grail of hosting my own services – but I just can’t do it!

So here’s the deal, as with most people who are heavy online users, I’m a big email user. I have multiple email addresses, my personal mailbox, RefuGeeks, MakeUseOf, and KQ Creative are all separate email accounts that I need access too from one interface. There are also some other features that are a must have for me:

  • Multiple account in one webmail interface
  • A nice looking, functional web interface
  • The ability to use my own domains
  • Email alias’ and catch all addresses
  • Folder level filtering

If an email service can’t do all of the above, then it’s no good for me – and I quickly found that most of the self-hosted webmail interfaces like Roundcube are nowhere near to the standard of Gmail. So, I stated looking for “premium email services”.

Over the last few months, I’ve tried a number of premium email services. FastMailOffice 365, and AtMail are the only ones that I found to be in the same ball park as Gmail. But to be honest, the only one that really came close to Gmail, in terms of features, was FastMail – but the interface is just horrible. On the flip side, their privacy policy is very explicit and protects their users well.

Office 365 is Microsoft, so I might as well stick with Google Apps – that was quickly brushed aside; finally came AtMail. The interface is gorgeous, and it works extremely well. However, the lack of multiple email accounts is a complete deal breaker for me unfortunately.

AtMail Web Interface
AtMail Web Interface

How do they stack up to Gmail?

All-in-all, the cold hard fact is that they don’t really stack up to Gmail. They’re all missing at least one feature that Gmail does well. Whether that be the interface, or certain features, Gmail trumps everything I’ve found.

Couple this with the fact that I’m an Android user, so I would need to also faff around with CalDav and CardDav in order to sync my contacts and calendars to my devices. This isn’t a deal breaker, more of an inconvenience really. As once it’s set up, it’s fine.

Google know the Internet, and they do it well; and at the moment, Gmail is still the king of email. So I won’t be moving away from Google Apps, no, scrap that, I can’t move away from Google Apps, as there just isn’t a viable replacement out there. Had I only the one email account, then I would jump ship straight away to Atmail – but alas, I can’t.

I will be keeping a close eye on both FastMail and AtMail as they’re both great in their own way, just not as good as Gmail at the moment. If that changes though, I’ll be jumping ship immediately.

Are you guys using something different than Gmail? Or have you recently made the switch? I’d love to hear your thoughts on moving away from Gmail…

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