Monday, 14 July 2008

Reasons to wean myself off Gmail

I became addicted to Gmail soon after it was opened to the public. Web access, labels, conversation view, gigabytes of free storage and (more recently) IMAP access, yay! But I've come to the point where it's a bit too much magic and I need to look at moving elsewhere.
  1. To import my email archive with accurate dates, I had to set up a box poll. Uploading over IMAP causes broken dates.
  2. To use Thunderbird on multiple computers I have to repeatedly unlock a CAPTCHA. Google said they were working on it... at the end of March.
  3. Spam and general filtering. I'd like to have as much control over spam filtering as possible. I'd like to be able to keep spam if I really want to. I definitely want to keep the spams I flag for training. And for general filtering, I'd like to at least be able to export my filters.
  4. Google like to think they use standards so people can control their data at will. But they don't provide Sieve or any other way to manage filters. They're not leading in the IMAP standardization effort, in particular on the mobile side. And while they provide contact import and export, they didn't quite go as far as providing LDAP.
  5. They don't support my favorite browser - KDE's Konqueror. Fortunately the "basic HTML" view is very usable, but it lacks support for e.g. changing settings and easily deleting lots of junk mail. This is not really graceful degradation, let alone progressive enhancement.
Call me impatient, but my general impression is that Google aren't quite set up for application support. In any case, they don't value my use cases.

Email is very important to me. I appreciate Google for showing the world and I how powerful webmail can be, but I just can't rely on them to get it right. I have a couple of family members I'd like to convert to email-stored-on-the-server (IMAP and/or webmail), but I can't in conscience recommend Google. Both of them are used to desktop email clients, and Problem #1 above negates the advantage of being able to access email from multiple different computers.

I've been paying for what looks like a loss leader test account at for a few years now. It's time for me to review it again and see if I can make the switch. It's a smallish technical-oriented service. My only concern is it looks like a one-man company - I don't know what would happen if the guy left the business.

Phew. Links are tiring - but I don't like to moan without any citations. I need to start using Markdown.