So long Google Workspace!

March 2024

So long Google Workspace!

As is expected with anyone who's worked in the tech industry for a long time, I've seen a lot of services come and go. Different project management tools, popular design software, best ways to communicate with clients. Since the beginning sending and receiving email has been a staple. But where do you host the email? What domain name do you use? What if you want to change it? Can you transfer email from one domain to another? Every developer - every business - has worked through these questions.

I registered my first personal domain in 2003 (HOLY CRAP!). I wasn't even working for myself yet. I just wanted a domain to use for a portfolio site and email. I still have that domain name, still receive email on the primary account and still have a lot of old archived messages. But even with something as "simple" as email, technology changes and improves.

Way, way back in the day it was fine sending email from your generic host. Maybe you used their included webmail client. Maybe you configured the smtp and imap settings in an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird. The problem became the other jerks who started sending spam. If the host company has a lot of customers who are sending spam messages then the host company could get flagged as ... I don't even know. Unreliable? Unsecure? Anyway, bad news if you're trying to send legitimate email to clients and they all end up in a spam folder.

Google Workspace Timeline

Way back in the day (see how there's only one "way"?) you could sign up for a free service from Google that would manage email, calendar, and cloud storage for your domain. I absolutely liked the FREE part of the service and at the time I was thinking about subcontractors. I thought it'd make us look like a real dev company! I never did the subcontractor thing but I did migrate all my earlier email from my web host to the gmail looking inbox.

According to the Google Workspace wiki this service became G Suite in 2016.

In 2020 G Suite became Google Workspace.

In 2022 the G Suite legacy free edition was no longer available.

I guess I shouldn't be cranky about many, many years of a free service. My first monthly invoice was only $6. It's not free but it wasn't awful. Over the years, though, the prices have continued to increase. First I removed some accounts and forwarded to my default (still with that original domain name). Then I really took a good look at domains I could drop all together. I only have 2 email account left there and my monthly payment is almost four times that first invoice. Again, it's not a LOT but it's adding up! Time to look for alternatives.

Email Host Alternative

I came across a reddit post complaining about this exact topic. There were many recommendations but the most comments were about MXroute. It's email hosting with good support and documentation and it looks like they use a pool of servers with good ip reputation for sending email. The instructions to set up were very easy to follow for a new account. It's just adding some mx records to the domain.

Today is the big test though. I received an email saying the Google Workspace pricing has increased AGAIN! It's time to get those inboxes out of Google Workspace and into MXroute. They recommend using imapsync to move email between two servers. It took a bit to get the gmail imap source mailbox right and I had to turn on "Less secure app access" in my Google Account Security settings.

Google Workspace > Security > Less secure app access

Cross my fingers and let's go. It looks like it's working. I'm currently 22.16% of 48k messages done.

Edited to Add

It's done! It worked! I've added the mx records to point the domain's email to MXroute and sent a test email. 

I'm also very impressed with imapsync. The web page very specifically says "don't close this window/tab or the migration will end." I went to get lunch and when I returned my laptop was asleep. I panicked because it stopped the transfer. I thought I'd have to sit through the first 25% again. Imagine my surprise when the progress bar jumped up to 25% almost immediately! I know the top of the imapsync page says "Copy/synchronize a Mailbox to another, without duplicates!" but I didn't believe it until I experienced it.