Own Your Email

If you’re reading my blog, you might be a professional working in technology. You’re likely to care about your online identity, and if you do, your publishing and communications must happen from your own domain.

If you care about your online presence, you must own it. I do, and that’s why my email address has always been at my own domain, not the domain of any employer or webmail service.

You might think your @gmail.com address will be fine indefinitely, but if I used a webmail address from the best webmail provider at the time I broke away from my university address and formed my own identity, it would have ended in @hotmail.com. And that wasn’t very long ago.

Own Your Identity by Marco Arment

I’ve had email at my domain for many years, so I don’t face the headache some do with switching today. If your email ends with someone else’s domain, bite the bullet and make the switch. The best time may have been in the past, but the second best time is right now.


I’m currently trying out FastMail for hosting my email. I previously used Google Apps for Your Domain. Since late last year, that product has been focused on businesses. I’ve wanted to try the benefits of paid email (no ads) with a bring-your-own-domain service intended for individuals.

Here’s some factors that went into my decision to try FastMail:

Here’s what I don’t like, and why you shouldn’t switch:

  • I’ve had a couple spam messages come into my FastMail inbox, which rarely happens in GMail. You can train a personal Bayes filter over time, and tweak the spam score sensitivity, but I doubt it’ll be as good.
  • No 2-factor auth without expensive SMS messaging, but I don’t need this as much since I use 1Password.
  • Their documentation is pretty atrocious. They document everything but you’ll spend time digging for it.
  • Filters are not as easy to setup, but you get to edit the code behind them which is based on standard Sieve.

The good: Their website is fast. Gravatars are used in their website and I prefer its look-and-feel to GMail. If you don’t like it, you can run your own custom CSS and JavaScript to customize it.

We’ll see how this works out. If you decide to switch, read their migration instructions to get properly relocated from your current IMAP provider. Make sure you put SPF and DomainKeys into your DNS configuration while you’re changing MX records. The SPF record to set is v=spf1 include:spf.messagingengine.com -all (on TXT and SPF, if your DNS does both). The DomainKeys TXT record to set is on the “Virtual Domains” advanced settings screen once you sign in.

No matter what you choose, go forth and own your email. Even if my trial of FastMail goes south, they’re just a provider behind my own domain, and I can even go back to GMail. Switching providers is easy once your email is on your domain, so get to it.