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Old 4 Apr 2018, 11:13 AM   #27
Cornerstone of the Community
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 526
As to the OP question -- "What do I gain paying for FM as opposed to using Outlook or Yahoo like I used to?"

Here's what you get by paying for FastMail:

1) An email service that makes its money from you via a simple, honest and clear transaction -- they just make money by selling you an email service that you pay them for directly. Nothing more. Nothing less. The email service itself is the product. YOU are not the product. YOUR DATA is not the product. YOUR PROFILE is not the product. You pay with your money for a service, simple as can be.

The "free" services are actually NOT free. They are making money off of you via a different method, which varies by service provider, and/or what little they let us know of the service they are actually providing. Nothing is truly free, and they have to pay the bills too, so one way or another, they'll make money off of you.

For me, I like the simple transaction that I know what I'm paying for with my money, and FastMail's job is only to provide that service to me, nothing else.

2) You are getting a specific privacy policy and track record, which may or may not mean anything to you or have any financial value to you. The only way to really evaluate the policies IMO is to read them and learn about their track records, and decide on the value to you. With FastMail, in my experience, they have an excellent privacy policy (far better than "free" providers) and a good track record. For me, this is worth paying something for.

3) You are getting a very specific set of features which may or may not be worth something to you, such as the BASICS, which both paid and free email services provide you to some degree:

- An email address you can use to send and receive email
- Storage space for your email
- Various filtering and spam protection services
- Ostensibly, you are getting some guarantee of service performance/reliability
- You are also getting some level of customer support if needed - quality and turnaround varies dramatically

4) You are getting specific INTERMEDIATE and unique features, and this is where things start to get interesting. With any of these services -- FastMail and such services as and GMail -- you'll get a whole list of features all over the map -- just go down the line and see if any of those are interesting to you.

FastMail obviously doesn't have a whole online suite of apps to use, but with Outlook and GMail you get a bunch of great office/collaboration tools -- and those are very compelling and useful. FastMail will NEVER be able to compete on that level with those kinds of office apps. And I hope they never try to. Those are vastly complex apps and they are really useful. Big points to Google and Microsoft for spending billions of development money on them over the last many years.

But with FastMail on the other hand, you get all sorts of very *email-centric* tools that the "free" providers don't have, and likely will never provide at the "free" level... everything from incredible control over domains/aliases, more granular control over filters, spam, identities, IP masking for outgoing emails, login account masking, etc... These kinds of features may or may not be worth something to you, but I constantly find value with them since I have a number of domains, and FastMail handles them beautifully and flexibly with dozens of email addresses/aliases piped through one account, and no one would ever be able to read the headers and know they are all part of one FastMail account.

In a nutshell, if you have any domains, FastMail is a swiss army knife for email. That alone is worth money.

Therefore, there are things I can do with email addresses/aliases/domains in FastMail that I simply CANNOT do with "free" Gmail and Outlook. However, this may not have any value for you.

5) Then there are ADVANCED features that you can tap into, that few people really know about. For example, FastMail has blazing-fast file services that allow you to literally host files and static HTML pages with exceptional performance. If you are very clever with how you use it, and you understand HTML, you can host a bunch of high-performance flat-file websites. Of course this doesn't replace a full hosting environment since it doesn't allow scripting, but for flat file HTML websites, it's incredible. This is a secret weapon that FastMail has, that few people likely take advantage of. Of course, if all you need to do is share files with people, your typical Dropbox or Google Drive or OneDrive account will do the trick just fine. But if you want to host a flat file/static HTML website, you've just got a killer little hosting service in FastMail.

Additionally, another ADVANCED feature is that you also get an entire DNS management console. Again, this is useful for anyone with domains, as it's a full-fledged DNS management feature, not crippled in any way.

Another great feature is how user management works. You can combine accounts, and manage/admin several accounts together. This is GREAT for business and families. Obviously, you can't come close to that with the free services. And even if you PAY for GMail (which is G Suite Business for example), I have yet to find such an easy-to-use multi-user management approach with this much flexibility.

The list goes on for things that are special that you get with FastMail, although you may personally not have any interest in these features -- such as CalDAV, CardDAV, WebDAV, FTP, etc... all included with your FastMail account. And they are all pretty nimble... not hobbled, sluggish features at all... they are indeed "fast."

6) Lastly, IMO, and this may have NO value whatsoever to you, but for me it means something. When you pay FastMail, you are supporting a tiny little company that is a dying breed on the Internet, made up of (from what I can tell) decent guys and gals trying to provide a simple, honest, excellent service for my money, instead of trying to wrangle out of me a profile they can sell (or leak) to the highest bidder. There are so few companies left like FastMail, that it's frankly a breath of fresh air that there is a company providing services this way with a solid track record. To me, I don't want an Internet where companies like this are all gone. With Facebook and similar services hemorrhaging private information left and right (go look up Cambridge Analytica), it's nice to know there's a service that keeps things very simple, with no shady motivations behind the scenes. You may trust Google and Microsoft more than Facebook of course, but seriously, go read the privacy policies and compare them to FastMail, if that means anything to you.

For me, FastMail adds up to be a very powerful, useful service with some unique features that perform very reliably, like a swiss army knife that is great to have around -- all for a reasonable price, with a good policy and track record in my experience. And when I calculate the extra goodies that I would have to pay for elsewhere, it turns out to be a really good value too.

What do I give up by using FastMail? NOTHING. Because I can also STILL get a GMail account (which I also have) and an Outlook account (which I also have) so I can use those extra tools, which are very helpful in some other situations as needed, while spending far more time inside FastMail.

So each person just has to do an assessment of whether or not there's any real "value" in paying FastMail, but for me, it's totally worth it.
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