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Old 18 Jan 2017, 01:30 AM   #19
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 362
Originally Posted by Quilleron View Post
There's plenty of excellent software that I have bought that offers a lifetime licence and unlimited upgrades. I sing the praises of such software whenever I can.
Well, to be fair there's a difference between standalone software and an online service. Most importantly, if the company were to go out of business, or simply stop providing upgrades for whatever reason, it wouldn't necessarily break what you already had — you could keep running the software you'd paid for as long as your operating system continued to support it.

The costs of running an online service are considerably higher than the costs of providing a single software package. Companies can provide upgrades according to what their budget allows for, and if they've promised "unlimited upgrades" that's probably going to factor into how often you see new free upgrades. FastMail has to keep the servers running and provide ongoing support for a live system every single day — they don't have the flexibility of budgeting and scheduling when and how to spend their money in the same way a software developer does.

That said, just to be fair I can think of at least one other online service that I paid for a "lifetime" subscription to 10-15 years ago that I'm still grandfathered in on ( — I still have hosting for seven domains there and I haven't paid them a nickel in about 15 years), despite their switch to a regular subscription model for everybody else not long after that. So I'm not necessarily defending FastMail here – just saying that I can kind of see both sides — but at the same time I really don't feel that comparing an online service to a standalone software package is a fair comparison.

PS What sort of complex forwarding issues exist? [email protected] => [email protected] is all that would be needed isn't it?
The complexity comes due to the tendency of modern Internet anti-spam measures to sometimes cause forwarding to "break" depending on what provider you're forwarding to.

In a nutshell, many email domains now publicly list which servers are "allowed" to send mail on their behalf (technically, these are known as SPF records and are published in DNS). If you forward mail through FastMail, all forwarded messages received at your new mail provider will be coming from FastMail's servers, rather than the original servers "authorized" by the original sender. This will cause them to fail anti-spam checks on many services. A search through these forums will reveal many users who have had these problems in both directions — forwarding mail from FastMail to other services, and forwarding mail from other services into FastMail.

Best case scenario is that your messages forwarded from FastMail have a higher spam score and are more likely to end up in your junk mail folder. Worst case scenario is that you lose forwarded messages entirely. Which scenario you end up with will depend entirely on how you're new mail provider (e.g. "") chooses to handle these types of validation failures (and how much control they give you over the rules for that).

Of course, when things break, who does the end user go to, and whose responsibility is it to fix the problem, or at least explain the problem to the user? Chances are that FastMail support would still end up getting a lot of messages from folks who have no idea what's going on, merely that their FastMail address is "broken" in some way, and expecting FastMail to do something about it.

Further, this only covers the underlying mechanics of forwarding — it says nothing about issues around FastMail creating and maintaining a user interface to set things up and manage forwarding in the future. If FastMail did what BritTim suggests — offer to set up a one-time forward for legacy "Member" accounts, that still potentially opens the door to more work for them, as there are still folks who will expect that because they've basically been paying around $1/year for an email account that FastMail still owes them something, which would include not only support requests but requests in the future to change the forwarding address when things inevitably change for them down the road (e.g. they switch mail providers again for whatever reason).

Honestly, my recommendation right now to all of those folks who thought that they had a "lifetime" email address with FastMail is to go out and buy your own domain name, find somewhere to host it, and then go through the process of moving everything over to it. As much of a hassle as that may be, you'll at least know for sure it will be the last time you'll ever have to do that. This is the only way you can guarantee that your address will never change. Even major providers like Gmail and Hotmail/Outlook reserve the right to pull the rug out from under you. Granted, you'll pay more for having your own domain name — not to mention a provider who will host it for you — but you get what you pay for and this is honestly the only way to guarantee an email address for life.
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