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Interview With Jeremy Howard of FastMail.fm 135

Posted by kdawson
from the doing-one-thing-well dept.
Siker writes "In a world of giants such as Gmail and Rackspace, email service provider FastMail.fm is somehow doing great, with signups above the million mark and reliability above four 9s. Email Service Guide interviews Jeremy Howard, founder of FastMail.fm, to find out how. Also covered are the company's contributions to Open Source software such as Cyrus-IMAP and Thunderbird. Jeremy discusses the future of IMAP, how open protocols help FastMail.fm, and why he thinks SLAs from email providers are a con."
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Interview With Jeremy Howard of FastMail.fm

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  • Oh lawd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @08:26PM (#29631447)

    You can tell it's a slashvertisement when the URL is casually dropped four times in the title and summary

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 03, 2009 @08:50PM (#29631575)

      FastMail.fm is a great service, and if you've ever tried FastMail.fm you'd know this. In fact, FastMail.fm is so great that I was very excited to see a FastMail.fm story here on Slashdot. And the man behind FastMail.fm? That's FastMail.fm-tastic.

      If you don't like it, you can go FastMail.fm yourself, you FastMail.fm-er.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It referred to as
      Fastmail.fm for less ambiguity. (fastmail.com is not related...)

      Fastmail.fm is not a URL. It is missing the http:/// [http]

      Do you have the same thoughts about articles on openoffice.org, or x.org?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      kdawson consistently publishes pointless or stupid OPs. Whenever I see the name kdawson I know that there will be a problem. Whether kdawson lets through a spelling error, or kdawson puts forward slashvertising, or even whether kdawson makes an egregious logical error in editorializing, I always know what to expect when I see the name kdawson.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mazarin5 (309432)

        1a. Help & Preferences -> Dynamic Index -> Exclusions: Put a check next to "kdawson"
        or
        1b. Help & Preferences -> Classic Index -> Authors: Uncheck "kdawson"
        2. ????
        3. Stop crying yourself to sleep every night there is a kdawson story

        • by iYk6 (1425255)

          I tried that. But then I put kdawson back when I realized that half the fun to coming to Slashdot is making fun of the summaries, and the commenters, and complaining about the lack of news and substance and how there aren't any editors.

    • Re:Oh lawd (Score:5, Informative)

      by howardjeremy (241291) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @11:16PM (#29632319) Homepage

      You can tell it's a slashvertisement when the URL is casually dropped four times in the title and summary

      To the best of my knowledge, 'Siker' (the submitter of the article) is not affiliated with FastMail.FM in any way. And since I'm the Jeremy Howard in the interview, and I very rarely nowadays post whilst unconscious, I'm also fairly sure it wasn't posted by the interviewee.

      Have you actually read the article? I did try hard in the interview to provide some actually useful info, regardless of whether you are an FM user or not. For example, I provided examples of how IMAP has been extended in recent times, and pointed to some interesting proposals which show where it's going in the future.

          Jeremy Howard

  • rlong@

    Synchronicity happens.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tx (96709)

      I'm also a fastmail subscriber. Can't fault reliability and features of it, although aesthetically speaking, there is room for improvement with the web interface. The only real issue I have with fastmail is the mailbox size (600MB for my service level) - when I signed up, I was only regularly using one machine to read my email on, so it wasn't an issue to get my mail via POP3, and use my local mail storage when I wanted to search old messages. Now I have four or five devices I regularly read my email on, so

      • it ain't cheap to upgrade to gmail levels of storage.

        I guess "cheap" is a subjective term. The additional cost to upgrade from "Full" to "Enhanced" membership (6GB email space plus 2GB file space) is US$20 per year. Casual email users might balk at that, but is is surely an acceptable cost for people who use email as a critical tool.

      • by zerocool^ (112121)

        FYI, I have no problem with Fusemail; I support any company that is customer focused simply on face value. Fusemail sounds like they "get it", and I think that it's a good thing all around for customers when there are multiple companies willing to give excellent service.

        However, since I work for Rackspace Email, I guess I should point out that with us:

        $1/mo per mailbox gets you -
        * 10G storage (mail + attachments)
        * attachments limited to 50M
        * 24x7 phone support
        * Privacy (we don't read your mail and don't sh

  • by rwade (131726) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @08:46PM (#29631559)

    From the article:

    Jeremy: SLAs are generally a bit of a con. If a customer canâ(TM)t access their email when they need it, that could cost them enormously, either commercially or personally. But all SLAs Iâ(TM)ve seen only offer a small refund for a large outage â" itâ(TM)s really no help at all to the customer. So instead of offering such a miserable token, what we do instead is support independent 3rd party resources like pingdom uptime monitoring and the Email Discussions forum so that prospective customers can get a truly independent and complete view of what we offer.

    I'm inclined to agree with this approach. E-mail is how everyone works today. A client e-mails me a task or a request, his way of measuring my worth to him is how fast I finish that task. If I can't reach my e-mail, the potential for injury to my reputation and the relationship with that client because of just that one 2 hours-a-year outage could be a loss of such extent that the e-mail provider couldn't possibly offer me enough compensation.

    In other words, information on how well the provider does in practice is much more relevant to me than some clause for token compensation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      i've been working in the industry for 13 years and have never seen a single SLA honored, even in instances where they are clearly at fault and the impact is huge ( week long outage in the middle of the tax season for an accounting firm).

      they are nothing more then arse covering exercises for CTO's

      • Rackspace honors their SLAs. We've received two months credit for two outages of 1 hour in the last 3 years. that's over US$35K for my org.
        • by zerocool^ (112121)

          Thanks, as a Rackspace Email linux engineer, I came here to say "...but but but we do!". Should have known a customer would beat me to the punch =). 'S what I love about this company - when you're customer focused, not only does it keep your business priorities in check, but it cuts your required advertising budget.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        You're supposed to get a lawyer and sue for compensitory and punitive damages when that happens, it's called a breach of contract, and if the outage was large enough and the breach flagrant enough, you just might be able to get a portion of your losses back.

        The neat side effect of that is, they probably wouldn't pull that bullshit again, either because you sued them into the grave or they learned their lesson.

    • by idiot900 (166952) * on Saturday October 03, 2009 @09:47PM (#29631853)

      I had always thought the point of an SLA was for there to be some real, immediate monetary cost for downtime to the provider, which would provide an incentive to make sure their internal processes for ensuring uptime were robust. The payment to customers is just sort of a side effect of this.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Actually the point of an SLA is that it is an Agreement to provide a certain Level of Service. Both parties agree to the service level and build in metrics (the obvious metric for an E-mail service is uptime) and consequences for failing to meet the level of service agreed to.

        The result is that, as you said, there is a real, monetary cost for downtime to the provider, which certainly gives them an incentive to make sure they can actually meet their SLA's. The payment to customers is critical to create thi

      • Never heard of this, so I clicked on the link, this is what I get:
        MessagingEngine.com Server Outage IMPORTANT: Some proxies seem to incorrectly cache this page. To ensure you have the latest information, please hold down the Ctrl key and click the Refresh or Reload button in your browser to force a refresh of this page. I'm sorry, the server your email is on is currently down. We apologise for the inconvenience; any email sent to you during this time is being queued by another server and will be del
    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Really, a best effort communication system with potential for delays at numerous points would do all of that because of a minor delay.

      Your screwed.

  • Fast Who.What ? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by lbalbalba (526209)
    Neverheardofthem. Move along...
    • Well now you have heard of them. If you take your email seriously, this is a service you should seriously look into. These guys grokked IMAP from the very beginning. Also keep in mind that their business depends on providing good email service. Your ISP only provides email services so that you get locked into their domain name for your address.

      I had really shopped around for email services (as well as running my own on a VPS for a while) before settling on fastmail many years ago. Fastmail runs the ki

      • by Bronster (13157)

        Fastmail runs the kind of system that I would have like to design.

        Why thanks :) I designed a lot of the current system (Cyrus replication slots and stores plus the "10 minutes to reinstall any server" and "make -C conf install" to get config up to date on any server)

        Bron ( sysadmin at FastMail )

        • Fastmail runs the kind of system that I would have [liked] to design.

          Why thanks :)

          You are very welcome.

          I designed a lot of the current system (Cyrus replication slots and stores plus the "10 minutes to reinstall any server" and "make -C conf install" to get config up to date on any server)

          Bron ( sysadmin at FastMail )

          Cool. Some day I would like to learn how IMAP service is distributed over several boxes. In the late 90s I thought about that problem and decided that I didn't have the sysadm skills to do it (so just threw more memory and faster disks at our IMAP server).

          • by Bronster (13157)

            Cool. Some day I would like to learn how IMAP service is distributed over several boxes. In the late 90s I thought about that problem and decided that I didn't have the sysadm skills to do it (so just threw more memory and faster disks at our IMAP server).

            There's a whole blog post about it somewhere I think - but the brief summary is: lots of independent Cyrus configurations and disk partitions (we have up to 40 separate Cyrus instances on a single server - keeps the partitions small and damage contained if

  • Explain? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by manekineko2 (1052430) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @09:03PM (#29631625)

    Okay, so could someone who is familiar with who these guys are explain what they have to offer? From a quick look, my impression is that as a consumer who doesn't necessarily need 5 9's of reliability, there isn't much reason for me to use them over Gmail.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mattazuma (1255022)
      I started using them initially because I wanted an email address @ my domain along with IMAP and fastmail was about the best provider out there. Now, I just like to have e-mail that is independent of the 'big guys' and that isn't going to go down. Also they have e-mail proxies that can get around any ISP or business port blocking. If you are happy with webmail and don't mind occasional downtime, gmail is fine, I use it, too.
      • by Nursie (632944)

        Google Apps for domains....

        They'll do your domain's mail, for free, and give you around 8GB of space. Up to 50 mailboxes too.

        I don't want to sound like I'm shilling for them, bus as someone whose mailserver-under-the-bed stopped being an option due to moving around too much, I think it's awfuully good of them to do that. Plus there's smtp/imap access.

    • by Straker Skunk (16970) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @10:35PM (#29632079)
      • Server-side Sieve filtering/sorting
      • File storage, optionally Web-accessible (I use this to serve up a simple, static-only Web site)
      • Various authentication options (reduced-access password, one-time logins, passwords via SMS, etc.)
      • Teh Google is not reading your mail, so you can put your tin-foil hat away :-)
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        • Google mail has rules, which are assuredly not as powerful as Sieve, but they are there. Half point to FM.fm.
        • Google had google page creator and now has google sites.
        • Full point to FM.fm here; Google allows basically one way of authenticating on the web, and one way for POP/SMTP (TLS with Login authentication.)
        • Teh Google is reading my mail, but then it's ignoring most of it. Since the government is already reading my mail, who cares about google?
        • Teh Google is reading my mail, but then it's ignoring most of it. Since the government is already reading my mail, who cares about google?

          If you are using Fastmail.FM with secure login, the government most likely is not reading your mail. I suspect NSA can break SSL, but I am confident it is expensive and they only do so on an extremely selective basis.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            If you are using Fastmail.FM with secure login, the government most likely is not reading your mail. I suspect NSA can break SSL, but I am confident it is expensive and they only do so on an extremely selective basis.

            If I'm using gmail via Firefox with FireGPG, then the government is reading my mail even less. They do however track the sender, recipient, and subject of all mail that travels any significant distance. The former two are the only reliable fields in the whole header, with the possible exception of the last received entry. That tells them which mail they need to break, assuming they have enough of your mail.

          • by KlaymenDK (713149)

            Since the government is already reading my mail, who cares about google?

            If you are using Fastmail.FM with secure login, the government most likely is not reading your mail.

            What's the use of you using secure Fastmail if your peers don't? So they'll just read your email through your peers' mailboxes ... same difference. (It's why I ended up caving in and signing up for GMail; it's no use if you're the only party that cares about encryption.)

            Sigh. I do wish there was a big crisis (not Y2K, a real one) so we had to do a "proper" Web 2.0 with end-to-end encryption and all that other "basic" stuff obligatory, instead of a theoretical add-on for those who can deal with the (non-triv

      • by alexo (9335)

        # Server-side Sieve filtering/sorting
        # File storage, optionally Web-accessible (I use this to serve up a simple, static-only Web site)
        # Various authentication options (reduced-access password, one-time logins, passwords via SMS, etc.)
        # Teh Google is not reading your mail, so you can put your tin-foil hat away :-)

        # Friendly and knowledgeable support by real live technical people.
        That alone is, IMHO, worth the price of admission.

        I used (still use) various free email providers. I also had a free FM account.
        Cu

      • And one big, awesome feature that makes it totally worth the price of admission for me:

        "Proxy" IMAP/POP/SMTP servers that accept SSL-protected connections on any port. The ability to have a secure connection to my mail provider for both inbound and outbound even when behind a braindead firewall that only allows 80/443 is absolutely worth the cost. The awesome reliability and low latency is even better.

    • Okay, so could someone who is familiar with who these guys are explain what they have to offer? From a quick look, my impression is that as a consumer who doesn't necessarily need 5 9's of reliability, there isn't much reason for me to use them over Gmail.

      For most casual email users (and even some not so casual) Gmail is quite sufficient. I happen to use Gmail extensively (but not exclusively) myself. However, I have several customers who are small business users and, for them, Fastmail.FM is usually a m

    • I've been a Fastmail user for about 4 years now, and I'm happy with them. Their IMAP and SMTP are straightforward and I can access them using every email client I've ever tried, I've never ever experienced any downtime, the tech support people are first rate, and their spam filtering is good. Furthermore, not being tied to any ISP means if I change ISP my mail is not affected. So Verizon and Comcast, bite me!

      They have a couple of lesser known features I use extensively: They let you access your address b

  • Lavabit [lavabit.com] has a great service concept.
    Only minus point: When using the free 1GB plan, the ads invalidate PGP signatures. They have ad-free 128 MB though.

    Features: http://lavabit.com/features.html [lavabit.com]

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @09:08PM (#29631647) Homepage

    I've been using fastmail for years, and have been very happy with it. As a free email provider they are one of the best. Arguably gmail gives you more, but I use my fastmail and gmail accounts about equally, and I really like them both about the same. And fastmail doesn't have the looming spectre of gmail's targeted ads based on the content of your messages, suggesting that they care a bit more about your privacy. Google has a little bit nicer interface, and way more storage for free, buuuuut... fastmail of late has had better availability/uptime.

    Go fastmail:)

    • by Graff (532189)

      I gotta agree, the people over at Fastmail are great. Low cost, very reliable, lots of flexible plans. I've been with them for a long time, first using their free service and eventually becoming a paying customer.

      The folks over at Fastmail are also pretty open with what they are doing. Regular updates on any service problems, discussions on ideas they have for new features, and they are pretty open to suggestions. They've also been doing the minimal, clean, and standards-compliant interface thing for a

      • by icydog (923695)
        To be fair, the version of Outlook Web Access that goes with Office 14 (2010) is pretty slick... vastly improved over the previous one. I haven't used it on Windows yet, but on Firefox in Linux it does pretty much everything that I do in the native Outlook 2007 interface and does it well. Rather than cripple itself in Firefox like it did it versions before, this one is actually worth using in Linux.
        • by jedrek (79264)

          Maybe they fixed that bug where you couldn't download attachments via the Web interface if they were sent from MS Entourage on a Macintosh. That got me into the office at least 3 or 4 times back in my last job.

  • Email is a one way tranference of information. Communication is two way, needing a confirmatory "message heard and understood". We have become casual in assuming that text messaging, social application posting and email are part of global communication. It is not. It is like shouting from your front porch; you have to hope someone is listening and understands the message. Email has a role to play, just don't think it's communication. This is why chat, IRC and Skpye all offer the immdediacy of knowing you'r
    • I'd like to disagree with you. But I can't. I have a friend that I do a fair amount of business with in another city and for some reason, his email is extremely unreliable. I knew he was extremely busy (a wife, 3 kids, a more than 40 hr/week job, oh, and working on his Masters degree) so I didn't expect immediate response from him. But he didn't respond very often at all. So I finally called him and asked him about something, and he told me he didn't get most of the emails (well, he did get some, but not ve

    • While a pleasant definition, the idea that "communication is two way" does not seem to be founded in law, information theory, or common English usage. On what do you base this claim? And given that even normal letter writing and conversation may have pauses while the messages are transmitted one way, or may overlap each other as email does, on what could you _possibly_ base the claim that email does not include two way communication?

      After all, you and I are communicating right now. Doesn't that count?

  • Four 9s (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @09:19PM (#29631709)
    How long will they have their four 9s reliability now that they've been slashvertised?
  • Nice try. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by domulys (1431537)
    I am - like many other Slashdot'ers, I expect - just now looking at what FastMail.fm has to offer. (Note that I am an extremely happy user of Gmail, a FREE e-mail service.) Let's take a look:

    Free Account: 10MB email, IMAP

    So, I've already lost interest. FastMail.fm does not have the capacity to handle 4 of the past 10 e-mails I've received today, unless I give them my credit card.

    With regards to uptime, I concede that GMail had some issues a few weeks ago. But, look - Google is good at one thing, and that's redundancy. It's build into

    • try it! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by beckett (27524)

      i pay the $15 per year for 600mb. it's fast, it works well on imap, i can use aliases, and my email won't trigger behavior profiling, won't target ads, or freeze me out of my email because someone sent me a spreadsheet [consumerist.com].

      i know everyone is used to paying for email, but i really like email without ads, someone that will support mail from a domain i own, from a server i don't have to manage but can access anywhere with anything. i think they provide a great service for what i pay for.

      • You have no proof that you account wouldn't get frozen at fastmail. If the law says freeze the account then the company has no other choice.
        • by Yaur (1069446)
          assuming its a @yourdomain.com address you could just update your MX record and it wouldn't matter if they froze your account.
          • But all your previous emails still stored at fastmail, would still be frozen. Also if you re-point your mx records to keep an account open you would most likely be in contempt.
            • by beckett (27524)
              Do you have jurisprudence saying that repointing mx records to keep an account would be in contempt?
              • The court order was to deactivate the account. Not deactivate it and then activate it on another server. If a judge ordered a website to be taken down, and you moved it to a different server how is that not contempt?
                • And these are moot arguments because in this case it was a gmail account. If it was a fastmail.fm it would have been the same outcome.
                • by smoker2 (750216)
                  The judge ordered the ISP to deactivate the account. What you do depends on what the judge tells you. If my website gets taken down damn right I'll point the name somewhere else. Until I've been taken to court and been prosecuted why wouldn't I ?
                  • Um, if I judged ordered the site to be taken down then you have been taken to court. The court ordered the ISP to take down the account because they controlled it. If it was a domain the ISP as well as the owner would be parities to the court order (even though the owner my be anonymous, initially).

                    And before the free speech argument is started, all speech is not protected under the first amendment. For example it is against the law to say you are going to have the President killed.
            • by Yaur (1069446)
              1) keep local copies of e-mails.
              2) If we are talking about something that parallels the Google incident the order would be directed to fastmail not to you. If you as a third party to (and possibly without knowledge of) the court order could be held in contempt for violating that order it is certainly non obvious.
              p.s. IANAL
        • Re:try it! (Score:5, Informative)

          by howardjeremy (241291) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @11:24PM (#29632353) Homepage

          You have no proof that you account wouldn't get frozen at fastmail. If the law says freeze the account then the company has no other choice.

          FastMail.FM operates under Australian law, not US law (although the servers are in the US, they are owned by an Australian company). Australian privacy law offers more protection than almost anywhere else in the world. For instance, an Australian company that receives a request for information about an account under the Telecommuncations Act is legally required to not provide any actual email contents to the requesting law enforcement agency.

          To have an account closed, law enforcement would have to jump through plenty of hoops first, and we'd check really carefully to be sure that the request was legally enforceable before we complied.

              Jeremy Howard
              FastMail.FM

          • I am sure google also made sure they legally required to comply with the request. I was unaware that fastmail.fm was an Australian company (assumed it was American since prices was in dollars, shame on me). International law does make it more complicated to get an account shutdown. But since the servers exist in the US can a court order that they be seized? (IANAL)
          • Re:try it! (Score:4, Funny)

            by Frosty Piss (770223) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @02:45AM (#29633125)

            FastMail.FM operates under Australian law, not US law (although the servers are in the US, they are owned by an Australian company).

            The servers are here in the US? I feel safe in speculating that if *you* will not pony up the emails to a US judge, the people who maintain the server farm *here in the US* will. US judges generally couldn't care less about how they do it in whatever country, and, as you said, the servers are here in the US...

            • Re:try it! (Score:5, Interesting)

              by howardjeremy (241291) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @07:44AM (#29633953) Homepage

              I feel safe in speculating that if *you* will not pony up the emails to a US judge, the people who maintain the server farm *here in the US* will.

              They can't - they have no access to the emails, because they can't login to the machines and they can't access the encryption keys for the data. All maintenance of the OS/software is done from Australia.

              We've had a number of US-based law enforcement bodies over the year try to get hold of our data without going via the appropriate Australian bodies, and it doesn't work out for them. In the end, they have always ended up submitting a request for cooperation via the Australian Federal Police, as they are required to do, and we respond to that request in line with Australian law.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Beetle B. (516615)

                We've had a number of US-based law enforcement bodies over the year try to get hold of our data without going via the appropriate Australian bodies, and it doesn't work out for them. In the end, they have always ended up submitting a request for cooperation via the Australian Federal Police, as they are required to do, and we respond to that request in line with Australian law.

                Since people were asking, this is one of the things that makes Fastmail.fm great.

                OK - Feature-wise all the other big dogs have caught up in some form or other. Fastmail.fm, though, was a pioneer in many aspects. I think they may have been the first reliable free email provider that offered POP/IMAP - years before the major ones did. Heck, I'd bet that's why they got so many customers. And their excellent customer service was why they stayed.

                I've never been a member, but I've always recommended them to frien

              • Reading through the fastmail.fm website, I see no mention of these things. I would be highly interested in extending privacy. The main reason I choose my backup company (spideroak) because they have zero knowledge of what I am storing, so a court order would only produce worthless scrambled data.
              • by ignavus (213578)

                Huge geekiness hole in the interview: what did you major in in philosophy?

                As a fellow Australian, who is both a fastmail.fm user AND a philosophy post-grad, I just _have_ to know (for certain non-urgent, sticky-beak values of "have to").

          • by hey (83763)

            I don't really think that the servers being own by an Australian company would give you any protection if a US court demanded access. Say you were an Australian person in the US and a US warrant was issued for your arrest ... um you'd be arrested.

  • Great Service (Score:4, Informative)

    by stbill79 (1227700) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @10:03PM (#29631937)

    After my university account expired, I went with Fastmail after deciding I did not want my non-throwaway email account to be sold to spammers, open for 'harvesting', or at the whims of some company's profit motives. I went with Fastmail's $20/year account and have been a happy customer now going on 4 years. Features I like best:

    • Aliases - instead of having to keep a bunch of throwaway accounts with Yahoo, MSN, etc - I just set up a few aliases. Every so often they're purged, thus the spammers rarely get a hold of my address.
    • Secure Imap (and POP3) access on non-standard ports. Corporations have this nasty habit of blocking access to the standard mail ports. I can access my account using my client of choice from pretty much anywhere
    • Online storage space (in addition to the mailbox space). This allows me to store things like my resume, some ebooks, and other docs online, and even share it as the files are able to URL accessible. I believe the files are accessible over Webdav, but the web interface is good enough.

    They've increased storage space over the years, but this is still one thing I wish they'd improve upon. I don't expect them to offer gigs and gigs of space, nor do I intend to basically store my music collection on their servers, but the 600MB mailbox quota and 100MB file storage limit might be increased a little bit. SFTP access to files would also be cool! Another thing that is bothersome is that my main account uses the .fm. This is non-standard, and I wonder how often it looks a little shady to some people who expect all emails to be of the com, edu, or org variety. Might be nice if they'd register another domain under .com that could be aliased to my main accounts.

    Another feature that'd be worth the $20/year itself would be the ability to create aliases under the .edu domain in order to get cheap versions of software! I'm sure this is more difficult than it sounds, though.

    • Re:Great Service (Score:5, Informative)

      by MLease (652529) on Saturday October 03, 2009 @10:29PM (#29632051)

      They've increased storage space over the years, but this is still one thing I wish they'd improve upon. I don't expect them to offer gigs and gigs of space, nor do I intend to basically store my music collection on their servers, but the 600MB mailbox quota and 100MB file storage limit might be increased a little bit.

      Go Enhanced ($40/year instead of $20), and you get 6 gigs of mailbox and 2 gigs of file space.

      Another thing that is bothersome is that my main account uses the .fm.

      When I signed up (several years ago), I picked mailbox.com as my domain. Now I have my own domain, but the base address it points to is still in the mailbox.com domain, and my wife uses mailhaven.com. Didn't you know about the dozens of alternate domains they offer? They have .net, .com and .org domains, as well as others. And, of course, you can always set up your own domain (mine costs me about $10/year from 1and1.com), and host it at FastMail.

      As for the .edu, I think registrars are pretty strict about who gets those; I think you have to prove you represent an accredited educational institution. I don't think FM can help you with that. :)

      -Mike

    • by timmyd (108567)

      It looks like the standard account for fastmail.fm limits you to only 7 aliases. I use tuffmail which is a similar service but they give everyone with a paid account unlimited aliases. Another thing that looks worrisome with fastmail.fm is that there seem to be bandwidth and polling quotas.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by howardjeremy (241291)

        It looks like the standard account for fastmail.fm limits you to only 7 aliases.

        You effectively have unlimited email addresses by using subdomain addressing. This lets you use [anything]@username.domain as an email address. Also, if you have a folder name called [anything] (i.e. with a matching name) then messages to that address are autofiled to that folder.

        Personally, every time I give my address to a company (e.g. when subscribing to a service) I put the company's name in the [anything] slot, so I know w

  • I've been on fastmail for several years, and $40/year is nothing for the peace of mind I get knowing that our private emails are not being used or sold for advertising to us or anyone else, as well as the ability to serve as the mail host for my domains and used by me and my family.

    They were ahead of Google in offering IMAP, including SSL for IMAP and SMTP, although I see Google has now caught up.

    Something else I appreciate is the effectiveness of the server-side spam filtering. I've never had to spend any

  • by Trerro (711448)

    Their free account is rather weak, but I'm quite happy with what I'm paying $20/year for...

    1. Actual security. It's the only webmail I know of I can log in through a secure connection, and it includes a no-cache mode so I don't have to worry about messages I read being in the cache on a public (and possibly infected) machine. You can also make a single-use password for when you have to use a machine that has a good chance of having key logging spyware.

    2. On the flip side, there's a "log me in for freaking e

    • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Sunday October 04, 2009 @03:02AM (#29633189)
      I agree with all your points, with a few caveats that I shall mostly not bother with.

      For your own information

      • There is no problem sending ZIP (or other compressed format) files through Gmail, depending on the names of the embedded files. It is trying to block executable files within the zip archive.
      • To overcome the problem sending executable files through Gmail. just change the filetype. For instance, change "myprog.exe" to "myprog.exe.rename", "myscript.vbs" to "myscript.vbs.rename" and "myarchive.zip" with embedded executables to "myarchive.zip.rename". Everything is then fine.
  • One criterion that I have for an e-mail provider is that they let me be the arbiter of whether an e-mail is useful or not. Unfortunately, from reading their website, Fastmail.fm apply a series of SMTP and content-level filters that cannot be disabled.

    For example, regarding levels of spam filtering they write:

    Go to the Options -> Spam / Virus protection screen and switch from "Basic" to "Normal", "Aggressive" or "Custom" level filtering.

    How about a ``None at all'' option? I don't receive spam and I baul

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bronster (13157)

      There's stuff that we block before we even know who it's addressed to. At one point (I haven't checked recently) we had over 1 MILLLION IP addresses that were being blocked from even connecting to our MX servers (for a 24 hour rolling block none less) because of their behavior.

      But you can certainly turn the spam scanning right down to the point where anything that's not pretty ugly will be allowed into your mailbox. I have my spam scanning turned a fair way up, and the only false positives I've had are ne

      • by Chelloveck (14643)

        There's stuff that we block before we even know who it's addressed to. At one point (I haven't checked recently) we had over 1 MILLLION IP addresses that were being blocked from even connecting to our MX servers (for a 24 hour rolling block none less) because of their behavior.

        MAILFAIL. I've had problems with other mail providers who do this kind of thing. Somebody sends me a message, but I never receive it because their host fell into the bad behavior block. They never get a bounce, and get pissed at me fo

        • by Bronster (13157)

          To get in that list a host has to have connected to us and then held on to the connection for 5 minutes without sending ANYTHING down the wire multiple times. It doesn't tend to contain real MXes ever, and it's easy to whitelist an IP address that's known to behave a little strangely.

          Unfortunately, mail is a fail sort of business - you have to strike a balance between all your users getting scads of spam and blocking the worst-behaved machines (temporarily) for their behaviour. It means if someone's provi

        • by mvdwege (243851)

          If the sending party does not get a bounce, the sending mail server is misconfigured. If it can't connect to the fastmail.fm MX servers, then it should bounce the message.

          So, no fail here. Just someone who doesn't understand how email works.

          Mart

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by howardjeremy (241291)

      Fastmail.fm apply a series of SMTP and content-level filters that cannot be disabled.

      FastMail.FM has fewer global filters than any email provider I can think of. However, all large email providers need some - the first time a service gets hit by an SMTP-based DDOS they discover this!

      Imagine you have a botnet of 100,000 computers all trying to open SMTP connections to your server and blast through email at the same time - that's not something you want to allow. So, we have a database of IPs which have attemp

    • You sir, are clue impaired. Between 90 and 97% of email on the internet is spam. [wikipedia.org] We are using roaring penguin CANIT pro (basically commercially supported MIMEdefang) as a corporate spam filter. We have the ability to turn off all filtering for clients that ask for it. I love that. There used to be lots people who claimed such things, and we are able to oblige them. They always change their mind within a single day. They clamour to get the filtering back as soon as possible, and then thank me profuse
    • by hey (83763)

      Why?

  • Well, I have mod points, but rather than using them, I'll tell my story.

    My wife was losing mail and we couldn't track down the problem. I had server logs showing that some mail was accepted by fm, but then disappeared. After much hair pulling, I put in a support request.

    I quickly received four pages of logs showing exactly what happened to the mail in question - from the time it was accepted until it was deleted by an email client.

    It turns out that there was a Mac Email client which was set to delete mail

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