So long Pair, hello Gmail

Today marks a bit of a milestone for me. I’ve been with Pair.com since 1998, hosting my haughey.com domain and email. They have served me well, with the longest downtime being about 24 hours when the changed data centers around 1999. I’ve always recommended them highly as they offer a lot of features, but in the past couple years I had trouble justifying the $35 a month I’ve been paying them while I already had my own servers to pay for. I could have moved the site to my shared linux server ages ago, but what held me back was moving my personal email.

Changing DNS is always a pain and changing mail servers is often asking for trouble. I’ve kept paying Pair while I put this inevitability off, but with the loss of Knowspam coupled with my attempts to budget my money better, today I made the change. The web stuff is now hosted on the same box as this blog and for email I’m now forwarding all @haughey email to gmail.

I’ve long been impressed with gmail’s features and flexibility. It’s great to be able to jump onto any computer and check your email in a browser, and now that they’ve added pop support (I wished for IMAP, but for offline email reading, mirrored POP makes sense), I can keep reading email in an application when I don’t want to have a browser open all the time (or when I want to use a better email composing interface). Gmail’s search can’t be beat and that was another factor in the move.

Of course, before I changed email servers for the first time in 7 years, I tested it out, forwarding what little email I get at @metafilter addresses to gmail, and it’s worked out great. I just bit the bullet and did the switchover of haughey.com DNS and got my first forwarded email minutes later (remember when this used to take 48 hours?).

About the only downsides I can see have to do with my From: address always being my gmail address. If Gmail let you customize that, you could basically use Gmail as a mail server while still maintaining your domain identity. I’m wondering how hard it will be unsubscribe via email from lists, since I can no longer send things from my old address, and I’m also concerned about everyone in the world that has white listed or filtered my haughey.com From: address.

Of course, those concerns are minor compared to the limitless storage and flexibility Gmail offers.

10 Comments

  • I cancelled my Pair account earlier this year and moved all of my mail handling to a co-lo box, the same box that hosts my web sites. Dealing with spam is the hardest part, but other than that having maximum flexibility for control over my mail handling cannot be beat.
    I have plans to (but have not yet started) export my 750,000+ email archive from Microsoft Entourage to mbox format, and then move those mboxes to my server and make them IMAP folders. I’ve also considered importing my email archive into some kind of database, either Filemaker Pro or some PHP/MySQL solution, but have not decided what would be best.
    I’ve has some luck with Squirrelmail as an interface, which is kind of nice but I have no idea how well it will perform if it has to deal with nearly 2GB of email stuck in IMAP folders. I guess I should try it and see.
    The main reason I moved from Pair is that spammers were dictionary-attacking the camworld.com domain, resulting in 10,000+ emails a day being either filtered or rejected. Pair’s customer support team actually emailed me and told me I’d have reject/bounce anything that wasn’t a real mailbox or alias, since they noticed a performance hit on the box that was handling my mail for that domain.

  • I absolutely love Gmail, and honestly can’t remember how I survived that long without it. After the huge 2GB expansion, I got to wondering, how much email space is enough? I can’t see myself ever using that amount of space.

  • how much email space is enough? I can’t see myself ever using that amount of space
    If you keep copies of everything and get a lot of email, it piles up fast. My last two years of email are about 1.8 Gb on my powerbook, so I suspect Gmail will grow at the same rate.

  • Limitless? LOL. Gmail’s very sweet but let’s leave the drooling to your soon-to-arrive little one.

  • Can’t you change the “reply to” address on gmail? In the settings, I thought that was an option, or is that for something else?

  • Yeah, but what have you done with your old email? Left it at your mail app’s archives? What happens when you’re looking for that old message?
    Assuming you’re using Gmail via the browser, you have to launch your (old) email client to look for that old email.
    Not very nice, no?
    What I’m trying to say is: when will Google release an import tool for your old email messages? (The non-Google ones don’t preserve dates, so they’re a no-no for me.)

  • I was with Pair from 1996 to 2002 or so… I felt bad finally closing the account, but with two of my own servers by then there wasn’t much point.
    There are two things keeping me from using Gmail: lack of import options, and export options. I’d like to be able to switch email clients at any time, and I’m reluctant to lock myself into a “beta” service.

  • Archiving some and not all email has been my own personal holy grail for a while.
    I recently came across this – a new Daylite feature that I think does the trick:
    http://www.marketcircle.com/daylite/mail.html
    Looks nice so far.

  • I have been with Pair since 1999 and have seven domains on my account. I have been thinking of switching myself, as I have found hosting accounts for a fraction of the cost… but I am reluctant to switch due to reliability of other servers and the companies.

  • I’m surprised no one’s mentioned so far that any GUI mail client will allow you to set the From header to whatever you like. You could be president@whitehouse.gov, for all your ISP’s SMTP server knows.
    A restrictive ISP might disallow sending mail from arbitrary domains via their own SMTP server, but this is not the norm for broadband (Earthlink excepted) — too many people working from home who’d get bent out of shape.
    I’ve had a Pair account since 1998 or 1999. I briefly considered TextDrive, but the lack of qmail was a dealbreaker.

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