A better email service

I have had my own internet domains for many many years. This one attracts several thousand (yes, n x 1000) spam messages a day. I have used many strategies over the years to manage my email including a sophisticated challenge and response system from Vanquish called vqme (which was for personal accounts, they also offer services to businesses). Sadly, the volume of spam was a bit much even for them so I tried mxsweep for a while but their approach was a little too corporately focused for me.

I like to create email address on the fly so that if I buy something from companya I can use the address companya at mydomain. It is then easy to spot if they are sharing addresses and also trap any emails from them in the future. Sadly, mxsweep treated every such address and the millions that the spammers auto-generated (completed gibberish such as dweoartyghu at mydomain) as individual accounts.

My domains are managed for me by a friend and former colleague who used to work with me several jobs ago and who now runs his own communications and systems integration consultancy rather than by one of the big domain suppliers and thus I always have good control of my domains through him plus support when I get out of my technical depth. This means I can get the settings on my domains changed easily to be directed to the email service of my choice (whilst my friend can offer me mailboxes as well, it does not seem fair to him or his customers to put additional burdens on his systems).

For the last year or so, my personal email has been managed by fastmail.fm, and Australian based company that has an excellent reputation on the internet for doing email hosting and just email hosting. Well. Fast. Robustly. They are not a web hosting company but do offer some storage space alongside the email if you want it (but no support for applications). They are very good on supporting email standards.

You can access your email using a standard client able to access email using POP or IMAP. They also have a web front end to your email which has recently been significantly improved (brought into line with modern markup standards) whilst still being fast and efficient. There spam handling is superb and gives me huge flexibility. As well as a simple to use web based front end for specification of rules to deal with your email, you can instead write complete Sieve scripts (which is what I have done).

As my friend has essentially pointed email handling for my domains to the fastmail systems, I can use a wide range of options on fastmail without a script to handle my mail in certain ways. For example, I can tell it to send email sent to certain addresses (or wildcards) to a completely different address (for example, I can tell it to send example at mydomain to aname+example@googlemail.com assuming I there is a googlemail account called aname). Note the use of plus addressing as well (an established feature of internet mail that can be very useful on things like google for the generation of throwaway addresses e.g. aname+supplier@googlemail.com). There are  a number of services I had subscribed to that I want to share with my family and have set fastmail up to automatically forward email to a certain address to multiple addresses (i.e. each member of my family including myself).

fastmail have recently introduced a family and business offering  (more) that lets you have a master account with many accounts within it. The master account is able to control many of the settings (domain settings, virtual domains, aliases, etc.) for all of the accounts as well as setting options for each account independently. The master account can also access the email of the individual accounts UNLESS the user of the account has selected private mode. This is a great model for families and business where there is a need to keep some degree of control of what is going on with individual accounts. I started using this recently and have managed to resolve problems my wife was having with spam to her main domain. We also use googlemail selecting to backup some of our email. I normally use the webclient but my wife mostly uses an email client.http://fastmail.fmfastmail.fm

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