Earlier this year, Google surprised everyone by announcing that their ‘G Suite Legacy Free Edition’ would be soon no longer. What has been a free service for many years is now finishing up. To stay with Google you will need to pay for one of their commercial offerings, and to do so by 1st June 2022. This impacts me because my ‘gardiner.net.au’ domain currently hosts email through G Suite Legacy Free.

I don’t object to being asked to pay, but the price rise is not insignificant.

So I need to plan what to do.

  • I currently have 9 accounts configured.
  • I make extensive use of shared calendars between some of those accounts
  • For most users, calendars and contacts must also be considered

Stay with Google

If it was just my immediate family, I might consider this, but I have extended family also using the domain so asking them to start paying over $AU100/year is not tenable. But to be honest, even for the 5 in my family I’m not super excited to have to pay around $AU550/year.

I should point out that Google do offer a 50% discount for the first year, so that might cushion the blow a little.

Leave Google

What ever you choose, you probably want to make use of Google’s “no-cost option” to maintain the Google accounts associated with your domain (except for email).

Customers who choose this option will retain access to the no-cost version of Google Workspace services such as Google Drive and Google Meet, and additional Google services such as Google Search, Google Maps, and YouTube. You will also retain access to paid content such as movies purchased in the Google Play Store

Sounds useful, though as at the time of writing the waiting list to participate in this is not yet available!

Leaving Google will also involve migrating the data out of Google and into whichever provider(s) are chosen.

But if you leave Google, where do you go?

Other email providers

There’s lots of other email providers besides Google and Microsoft. Trouble is most of them are just email - very few offer calendars and contacts, and those that do may not integrate nicely with mobile devices. So while I did look into a few of these (Fastmail and Protomail were two I saw recommended on Twitter), I don’t think they’re for me.

Microsoft 365 Family

I do actually have a current Microsoft 365 subscription. It turns out as part of that you can get custom domain email hosting BUT it’s limited to 6 people and requires that your domain be managed by GoDaddy.

I would love to make use of something I already have, but I’m over the 6 person limit, plus I’d prefer not to be locked in to using GoDaddy.

Use an email redirection service

I did discover there’s some cheap or free email forwarding services out there. Conceivably you could use that to forward email originally sent to [email protected], onto [email protected] or [email protected]

Cloudflare actually offer something like this, but be aware it’s in beta, and I’m not aware if they plan to charge for this in the future.

Depending on the service, you may not be able to send email as [email protected] as they either don’t offer an SMTP service, or you might have to pay extra for that.

This means that your mails will be sent as as [email protected] or [email protected]. If possible, you will want to set your emails to add a Reply-To header to suggest that replies should go back through your custom domain eg. [email protected].

Microsoft 365 Business Basics

AUD108/year (inc GST) https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/microsoft-365/business/compare-all-microsoft-365-business-products, is the entry-level plan for Microsoft 365 that includes email, Office apps and services. This happens to be the plan I’ve chosen for the Adelaide .NET User Group for email, but especially as it includes Microsoft Teams for running online meetings.

If one is considering one of the Microsoft 365 business products, you should check out the Microsoft 60% discount promotion.

This link takes you to an online chat where you provide contact details for yourself and your domain. Microsoft will then verify that you are currently using G Suite. In my case they then called the next business day (from US phone number) and then asked me to add a TXT record to the domain to confirm that I had administration rights over it. Once that was confirmed, then they can provide a discount code for you to purchase one of the Business Basic, Business Standard and/or Business Premium plans. The discount code is only valid for 24 hours, so if you’re not ready to purchase right away, you can resume the process any time up to 2nd August (when the discount promotion ends).

Microsoft Exchange Online (Plan 1)

AUD72.60/year (inc GST) https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/microsoft-365/exchange/exchange-online is essentially a business plan that only provides email, calendar, contacts and tasks. No Office applications are included.

Where to next

My goals are to minimise the initial and ongoing costs, minimise the the effort involved in migrating, and maintain similar services to what we’re used to now.

I don’t mind admitting I’m a bit nervous about this. I want to get it right and not break my users’ email, but I know there’s likely to be things I’ve overlooked that could catch me out.

Do I need the full services of Microsoft managing all the email flowing through my domain, or could I get by with a forwarding/routing option? I need to evaluate the pros and cons of both.

Actually even if I did go with one of Microsoft’s commercial options, not every user may necessarily need the full email service. I could still use Microsoft’s email forwarding there to forward to an external account!

Either way, I need to make a decision in the next few weeks!