Felix Urbasik

Felix Urbasik

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How mail providers failed me

This is part two 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.

“Self-hosting email isn't worth the trouble”

When researching about running my own mail server online, I encountered two opposing factions which appear to be about equal in size. One half says that they have tried to run a mail server for many years and they got so fed up with it that they ended up going with an external provider like Fastmail, Mailbox.org, MXRoute, MyMangoMail, Postale, ProtonMail, Tuta or Zoho to name a few.

The other half claims that they have self-hosted their own mail server for years and they never had any issues. They say that as long as you invest a little bit of time into caring for your IP reputation you will be fine. So I was stuck with a tough decision. Do I really want to set up and run my own mail server again, or would I finally hand it over to a professional? After all, I'm not a teenager anymore. I could afford a few bucks a month for a reliable email service.

Not enough storage

Unfortunately, with most of these providers, all you're gonna get for “a few bucks a month” is a lousy 2 to 5 GB of storage. Look, I'm not saying they're bad or greedy or anything like that. I'm sure all these providers are great at what they do. But I've been receiving emails since 2008 and my mailbox clocks in at roughly 7 GB at the time of writing this. Those are in no way all important emails, but somewhere among them is the license key of that one software I bought in 2011, the auto-generated password for that one website I signed up with in 2015, and that one tax certificate file I received in 2019. I usually don't need to go to my mailbox for important data, but when I do, I'm desperate. I need all my emails to be archived and searchable in one place. I'm also a bit of a data hoarder, and I'm not paying 10€ per month for a mailbox smaller than a USB stick I could buy new for the same price.

Goneo, you were the chosen one!

During my initial research, Goneo was the only provider that offered something like 60 GB for 1,50€. I was so impressed by their offer that I immediately bought a 12-month plan before they think of raising their prices too. That turned out to be a mistake and a waste of money. You see, Goneo primarily offers their mail service for their own webhosting customers. You can add your own domains and even external domains that you purchased somewhere else, but you have to use their DNS nameservers. That means I would have to move my entire configuration of my domain fellr.net from my current provider to Goneo. “Well that's not too bad” I thought, until I saw that they don't support creating additional NS records to delegate subdomains to other nameservers; and here I'll have to go on a bit of a tangent. I use dynv6 to provide dynamic domains to almost all devices in my home network. For this purpose, I have delegated a subdomain of fellr.net to be handled by dynv6. So, it sounds weird to say, but my entire home network would crash and burn if I went with Goneo.

Preventing the collapse of my home network

So, this is it. I have no choice than rolling my own mail server once more. And I will tell the story about how that went in part 3.