You may have noticed me flailing about on Identi.ca/Twitter/Facebook about trying to find a mail hosting provider. My mail hosting story is very long and drama-filled:
- A long time ago I relied on Gmail. Then, a not-very-nice person broke into my account and took it over. This was a problem since all my university mail, credit cards, etc. sent notifications to that account. Google refused to help, and I can’t blame them – I got what I paid for. You can imagine how painful dealing with that situation was.
- So then I tried hosting my own domain. That worked out for a while, but then I got hacked by some kind of bot and decided I was not cut out for sys-admining.
- Next some cool dudes took pity on me and hosted my mail for a few years. This was awesome, and very helpful, but was not meant to last forever and I eventually had to find a new solution.
- I moved to Yahoo! Mail. I didn’t want the fuss of rolling my own, didn’t want to pay $$, Yahoo! was at least FOSS-ish (Zimbra-based, which is more FOSS than Gmail at least), and even though they are free their customer support is surprisingly great. After a few months of headaches with the web UI clunkiness, ridiculous mail filter limits (only 5? for real?), embarrassing quoting (forced to top-post!), and lack of IMAP support (not even available in the paid-for edition) I decided I had enough. I was wasting too much time and productivity manually filtering mail.
So today I decided I had enough and I was going to fix this once and for all. I decided to go with Dreamhost (both because of an absurdly low price and because the cool dudes who helped me out before had used them). More on that later. Here’s all the suggestions folks gave me while I flailed about (the 20 or so Google Apps suggestions omitted for reasons above ):
Mail / Web / Domain Hosting
- Dreamhost $9/year for special promotion (normally $120/year). Debian-based (sigh) but all the apps offered are open source and they seem unix-centric.
- Razor Sites (via lavabit.com/credits.html) – Unfortunately these guys are a Windows shop so I didn’t look at them seriously
- Pair Networks – $360/year, 3GB storage, carbon-neutral which is quite cool, they may actually support procmail
- Fastmail – many free options but very small quotes (~MBs) until you get to paid plans. $40/year for 6 GB, custom domain, IMAP, unclear if server0side filtering is supported and/or any good. FOSS alignment unknown.
- Pobox – IMAP plan is $50/year, 10GB storage, custom domain, says it has server-side filtering but does not look like procmail support FOSS alignment unknown.
- GMX – I couldn’t get any details from the site without signing up, but it is free. They appear to openly support Firefox…
- Tuffmail – ~$200/year for 4 GB storage… ~$52/yr for 2 GB… ~$40/yr for 1 GB… on storage alone seems quite pricey. Offers IMAP. Server-side SIEVE => very nice. FOSS alignment unknown. Seems good but pricey😦
- Yahoo! Mail Plus – sort of FOSS-friendly (Zimbra-based), but no IMAP. Limited to 200 filters. $20/year.
They Give You a Box and You Roll-Your-Own Services
- Slicehost – cheapest option is $240/year, 10 GB storage, uses Xen…
- Linode – cheapest option is ~$240/year, 16 GB storage, uses Xen…
- RimuHosting – cheapest option is $240/year, 4GB storage. Linux-based and offer Fedora (which they call ‘Fedora Core’) and CentOS.
Dreamhost is pretty much the cheapest paid-for option so I decided to go with it. Some issues that cropped up:
- Dreamhost promises procmail but it’s a lie, they don’t support it. They did offer to give me a full refund in 97 days if I decided I couldn’t live with it.
- I used the workaround posted to the Dreamhost support wiki to get procmail to work. It is messy. Basically, I set my real email address as a forward to my Dreamhost shell account, which can use procmail. I write a procmail rule to filter out a particular type of mail, then I forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Then, I have to fill out a seperate webform entry for each secondaryaccount+filtername entry I have in my procmail to move the mail to that ‘subemail address’ to the proper folder. It’s nuts. It’s painful to set up and not quite working yet.
- Dreamhost doesn’t tell you that they only support SMTPS. A lot of painful attempts to send mail through them ensued until I portscanned my own domain to see only SMTPS open…
Anyway I’m glad so many people tried to help out, and I hope this summary is useful for someone in the same pickle I was in.