Felix Urbasik

Felix Urbasik

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Why I needed a new mail server

This is part one of a series documenting my adventure of migrating to a new mail server. The entire endeavour became such a long story that I figured it might be helpful advice to somebody if I write it down.

The early years

I have been hosting my own mail server since 2008. I was a 16 year old script kiddie and I had absolutey no clue about SMTP, IMAP, or even Linux. But, with lots of struggles and the help of countless tutorials, I managed to set up my own Postfix and Courier servers on fellr.net. I created my primary email address that still holds my online identity today. Of course, I was an absolute fool and configured the server as an open relay so it became infested with spam. My personal address also quickly became a destination for lots of spam mail. It was awful. One or two years later I moved everything to Gmail to let it handle the spam filtering instead. They had a cool feature that let you add any existing IMAP account, which I believe still exists.


Fast-forward to 2023. My domain fellr.net changed providers a few times, but it had always served me for my self-hosting needs. Some time in 2020 I switched from Strato to Server4You because I needed more storage and Strato got a bit too expensive for my taste. I picked Server4You because they offered a cheap dedicated server for about 25€ a month with a whopping 4 TB of storage; but also because they included a copy of Plesk. Plesk was my solution to the absolute mess that self-hosting email had become. It came with all the bells and whistles: SMTP, IMAP, DKIM, SPF, DMARC, SpamAssassin, you name it. It just worked and it came free with my server.

The tipping point

As time went on, I became more proficient with Linux and servers and I even set up my own Mastodon instance ma.fellr.net. Since Mastodon requires PostgreSQL I thought “doesn't Plesk support Postgres as well?” Yes, yes it does, but it was not included in my license. So I had the functionality on my server, but I was not allowed to use it. This was when my positive impression of Plesk started to tip.

The price hike

I received an email telling that the price for my server will increase to 27€, 29€ a year later, and 31€ thereafter. And then this year, I received an email that “due to structural changes” they will have to charge an extra 5€ for the Plesk license only to be followed by yet another email just a two weeks later that the price for Plesk will increase to 8€.

“That's it” I thought, and contacted support to cancel the Plesk license. To my surprise, they immediately cancelled it effective 15 December 2023. And that's why I needed a new mail server.