Fastmail - Alternative for email


Fastmail is a favourite of We use it for all our email addresses, and @aral and I use it for our other email addresses too.


  • very clean and easy-to-use/setup
  • can be used on the web, or with an email client
  • also does contacts and calendars
  • handles spam very well
  • small team, after an acquisition by Opera, they bought themselves back and are now 100% independent

With a very reasonable price (I use the $40py account personally), it’s a perfect alternative to Gmail.

Stopgaps and Alternatives

How is it on gmail-like features?

Does it have tags?

Does it group replies into threads that include my sent mails?

I mean, I’m sure it does but I’ve seen so many gmail alternatives that don’t have these obvious, basic features.

Laura’s Diary — Thursday, 30th July, 2015

I know the feeling!

I’ve not used Gmail in ~6 years, so I’m not 100% sure

No. Fastmail does have folders, and very good search.


In terms of user experience, it probably trumps Gmail. It’s very good. Other people may give you more insight on like-for-like features…


What do you guys think about Protonmail? I’m trying it.


I’ve not tried it. Do tell us what you think!


Thanks for the thread, here’s another one which has free + premium options (for 1€/month you get custom domain + other extras): +

I haven’t tried it, so can’t speak from personal experience.



Ok, I am interested in this topic - Alternatives for email. I have never gone this route but I have friends that have. Their motivation was to have their mail from various companies they owned or worked for as well as online sites forwarded to a single electronic (unpublished) mail box for simplicity.

Gmail never made any sense to me because they snoop your mail which they said from the beginning if I remember correctly. They should call is postcard mail.

Yahoo mail seemed to get used for “throwaway” email addresses where people wanted to protect a bit of privacy. Probably not effective anyway.

The use I could imagine, would be to have a durable/portable email address even when changing ISPs. To be durable It would have to be a company with a primary business mission of making money by providing email services - maybe a great cross-platform email client. That would make it likely to still be in business 10+ years down the road. If money is not changing hands they I have my doubts about long term business viability. But what else am I missing if anything?

On another related topic. I have changed OSs a number of times. It usually means losing all your email or a portion of it. For a time I used a Java email client and I liked it the best of any client I have ever used. In theory a person could take their mail and client with them to a new OS as long as it supported Java. And it was blindingly fast at sorting and searching. But the company gave up supporting it years ago- sigh.


Fastmail is pretty cool, I have used it since it was free for life and my wife and I still do use it. It has a powerful filtering language you can use to deal with incoming mail and a no-frills fast rendering design.

I have also had a paid Protonmail account since that was beta. Protonmail has you log in but then your mailbox needs to be decrypted with a second password. The ultra paranoid will want to use Protonmail, since their avowed purpose for existing is secrecy and privacy. There may be a way to try it free.

I also have used Gmail from the earliest days (and Yahoo and everything else). Gmail is by far the best email (forgetting privacy for a moment) except for one thing: the search sucks, ironically. Spam filtering is excellent and the programmable filters are great. You could do this manually in Fastmail, but like procmail, this can end up being a lot of work. If you have a lot of mails that are typical of a type you want to put in a folder (like newsletters) this is probably easy to do. There’s no “filter stuff like this” interface, though.


ps: here’s Protonmail’s security info
and Fastmail’s sieve language


I’ve never seen the sieve language. That’s so handy! Thanks :smile:


I am very happy with protonmail! They just need to publish their mobile apps.


Not to turn this into a discussion about Protonmail but their security claims don’t make much sense to me since they deliver their client interface within the browser, online. Which means that every time you go online to access your email you’re susceptible to a number of attack vectors which can modify the code within the ProtonMail app. Would be far more secure if it were an app that you downloaded once.

Plus the need to remember two passwords seems silly - why not run a key-derivation function from a single password and then split the resulting hash into two to get the same. User only has to remember one password in this case but you still get the same “two passwords” security architecture.


There should be no reason to lose any email when changing OS if you use IMAP (instead fo the outmoded POP3) as your protocol between email client and server. IMAP downloads a local copy of each email (or just the headers) without deleting them off of the server.

Maybe you meant the OS of your mail server if you are self-hosting. Anyway, just a quick tip :smile:


I complete agree. Yes Fastmail does not have tags, but I don’t miss them and overall I much prefer their (very responsive!) web interface to GMail. Their IMAP performance is also way better. Finally they don’t just do mail, they provide contacts, calendar, notes and chat all based on open standards. I switched from GMail to FastMail about 1.5 years ago, had it download all my email, and have never looked back.


Hi Austin, Maybe a little more information from me. I have never looked too deeply into the inner workings of email. I just use it a lot. My favorite email client was “PolarBar” which was written in Java and cross platform. I could use OS/2 at home and a different OS at work and use the same client for my personal email.

My practice was to have PolarBar scrub the mail server of any mail over 30 days old each time I logged in. I kept all my email offline. When I started to dual boot into BeOS at home a lot, it (BeOS) was lacking Java support but had awesome email skills. Eventually, I fell i love with BeOS (which booted in 17 sec on a 500 MHZ P3 (I think) dual processor board) and rarely booted into OS/2. Then BeOS to Haiku and then to OS/X.

So I look for portability when possible in applications and I really really like a great desktop and pure client that focuses 100% on the user experience.

I have a lot of my historical email still on OS/2 formatted drives but it can be tricky to install OS/2 onto modern H/W. I have paper printouts for some of it. It is not worth the effort to spend too much time on it.

If I had my druthers, I would have a mail server running on a headless server off a Raspberry Pi (or similar) and I think that is coming. I just don’t care for my data to be on a server over which I don’t have much control. Just seems like a bad idea being glossed over in the name of convenience. A service like Fastmail seems like a step in the right direction however so I am interested in how people are finding value using it.


That’s interesting. I especially like all that talk of alternative OSes. I love the idea of BeOS but I’ve never used it. I’ve booted Haiku a couple of times and I find it really fascinating. I’d love for it and Syllable to get more development attention so that they could become viable every-day solutions.

As for your needs, it sounds as if running your own mail server on a Pi is the way to go and when you do, you’ll want to use IMAP. It’s based on synching folders rather than pushing mail from one device to another so it’s much easier to keep everything in order and archive for posterity.


Yep, what fun exploring a new operating environment. OS/2 had/has a very good design for the user environment in the Workplace Shell. It spoiled me for almost anything else. It was very logical and consistent.

BeOS on a dual processor motherboard completely spoiled me in terms of responsiveness. Between the 2 experiences, it made it torture to use our systems at work. OS/X does not compare particularly well with either IMO but it is vastly closer than most. I hear rumors that some effort is being expended to bring Haiku to the Raspberry Pi 2 and that would be very interesting.

BeOS/Haiku had a structure that allowed for easy construction of a simple mail client resulting in many clients. It had mostly to do with the features of the file system and the expanded use of extended attributes. EAs being a particularly useful tool for keeping things organized/sorted like mail or music. You get familiar with these features and then it is torture having to live without them .

[quote=“AustinPrior, post:15, topic:623”]
… you’ll want to use IMAP. It’s based on synching folders rather than pushing mail from one device to another[/quote]

I think that is good advice when the server is in one’s control. I have looked a little more at IMAP. I keep an eye on the folks at citizenweb and the arkOS project.

By the way I think that Genesis 0.7 on arkOS was just released as an early “stable” version in the last couple days. Got a lot of things to check out this week.


Thank you @laura for this post. I’m looking for a new email service to replace my Gmail/Google Apps and Fastmail looks quite cool (especially with the contacts/calendar feature).

And @alchemy, I love your story about BeOS! It used to be my main OS for several years, and I miss it so bad!
I’d love to install it on one of my Pis, just to play a bit with it… :slight_smile:


On another email front, Proton mail is reported to be under sustained DDoS from what seems to be 2 parties. One may be a state-based attack.

There is a discussion on /.

And regarding BeOS, BeGeistert 29 (I think) is just wrapping up in Duesseldorf so there may be some new progress on Haiku happening.


Yes, I’m closely following the ProtonMail attack, as I have an account and I am in Switzerland… That’s really sad!


Not being a current customer of Proton mail, I have to wonder if it is able to operate while under attack?