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Old 11 Jun 2020, 03:42 PM   #1
rnkn
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 57
Praise for Purelymail

I switched to Purelymail a bit over a month ago now. I had been looking for an alternative to Fastmail for the last year or so. I allowed a month of overlap in case I needed to switch back, but it was clear pretty soon that I was in good hands.

For some people a month may not seem like enough time for an accurate appraisal, but really I can't say enough good things about Scott and Purelymail. Here are my top likes:
  • As far as I can tell, everything is built with existing open source components, with some in-house patching. The webmail is RoundCube, and the Purelymail skins are just slightly modified versions of Larry and Elastic (e.g. branding and links to support), but you can still use the vanilla Larry or Elastic skins. Often internet companies take a Not Invented Here attitude that cripples their ability to ship a solid product, then when you find bugs, not only do you need to deal with the bug, but the hubris too. Open source avoids this.
  • All the must-haves are there: custom domain, SPF, DKIM, 2FA with backup codes.
  • The issue tracker is completely public: https://issues.purelymail.com/Scott/Purelymail/issues
  • Scott is incredibly responsive with any problems. You never need to wait more than 24 hours for a response, and the response is usually that he's already solved the issue. None of that garbage with a customer service rep responding to say they're "escalating" the problem so someone competent.
  • Scott is very open to suggestions for improvement, e.g. this suggestion of mine was implemented within a day I think: https://issues.purelymail.com/Scott/...mail/issues/40
  • The choice of advanced billing. The basic billing is virtually unlimited, but I prefer paying for what I use. This may look complicated at first, but your account page gives a crystal clear view of exactly how much every individual email sent, received and stored costs you.
  • The price is so cheap! I really hope he raises prices, because I do not feel that I am paying enough for the quality service I'm getting. (This is another reason I prefer the advanced billing; if I use more than my share I want to pay for it.)
  • There's no superfluous junk. It's purely mail. With the webmail you can of course store contacts, but there's no calendar, notes, collaboration portals, smart bookmarks, social mention streams, Dropbox integration, etc. etc.
  • Being able to write an actual sieve script file then upload it is pretty cool.
  • The service is user-friendly but doesn't treat you like an idiot. You are perfectly able to write a sieve script that will delete all your incoming mail.
  • Anecdotally, since Fastmail began pouring their energies into JMAP, their mail delivery seemed to get slower on regular IMAP apps (e.g. iOS Mail). It's good to return to the regular speed of IMAP.
  • The complete absence of limits. No limits on number of users or domains or storage. No limits! You can literally open a single account and create separate email accounts for all your friends, family, employees, etc.

I've had some very minor hiccups with deliverability, i.e. some of my emails have bounced from servers that have been poorly set up. These have been when I've needed to email a place who had their IT setup by a guy named Gavin who arrives in a van. I've had no deliverability problems with the major providers.

I know some people are reluctant to use a mail provider run by a single person but I don't really understand this. Most people would only have one doctor, one lawyer, one accountant, etc. It seems weird to put your email above that.

For those curious about how the advanced billing actually breaks down, here's my billing for May:

Code:
Total: $0.84
Mail import/export job (seconds running): 3447 ($0.02)
Storage (GB/month): 1.02 ($0.05)
Shared-domain user fees (dollars/year): 0.00 ($0.00)
Emails received (GB): 0.43 ($0.02)
Emails received: 2559 ($0.09)
Yearly account fee (days): 24 ($0.26)
Metadata (GB/month): 0.00 ($0.00)
Emails sent to non-Purelymail accounts: 196 ($0.39)
Emails sent (GB): 0.00 ($0.00)
Emails sent: 207 ($0.01)
https://purelymail.com

Last edited by rnkn : 11 Jun 2020 at 08:59 PM. Reason: Added link
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Old 11 Jun 2020, 05:05 PM   #2
jeffpan
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Great review. Thank you very much!


Quote:
Originally Posted by rnkn View Post
I switched to Purelymail a bit over a month ago now. I had been looking for an alternative to Fastmail for the last year or so. I allowed a month of overlap in case I needed to switch back, but it was clear pretty soon that I was in good hands.

For some people a month may not seem like enough time for an accurate appraisal, but really I can't say enough good things about Scott and Purelymail. Here are my top likes:
  • As far as I can tell, everything is built with existing open source components, with some in-house patching. The webmail is RoundCube, and the Purelymail skins are just slightly modified versions of Larry and Elastic (e.g. branding and links to support), but you can still use the vanilla Larry or Elastic skins. Often internet companies take a Not Invented Here attitude that cripples their ability to ship a solid product, then when you find bugs, not only do you need to deal with the bug, but the hubris too. Open source avoids this.
  • All the must-haves are there: custom domain, SPF, DKIM, 2FA with backup codes.
  • The issue tracker is completely public: https://issues.purelymail.com/Scott/Purelymail/issues
  • Scott is incredibly responsive with any problems. You never need to wait more than 24 hours for a response, and the response is usually that he's already solved the issue. None of that garbage with a customer service rep responding to say they're "escalating" the problem so someone competent.
  • Scott is very open to suggestions for improvement, e.g. this suggestion of mine was implemented within a day I think: https://issues.purelymail.com/Scott/...mail/issues/40
  • The choice of advanced billing. The basic billing is virtually unlimited, but I prefer paying for what I use. This may look complicated at first, but your account page gives a crystal clear view of exactly how much every individual email sent, received and stored costs you.
  • The price is so cheap! I really hope he raises prices, because I do not feel that I am paying enough for the quality service I'm getting. (This is another reason I prefer the advanced billing; if I use more than my share I want to pay for it.)
  • There's no superfluous junk. It's purely mail. With the webmail you can of course store contacts, but there's no calendar, notes, collaboration portals, smart bookmarks, social mention streams, Dropbox integration, etc. etc.
  • Being able to write an actual sieve script file then upload it is pretty cool.
  • The service is user-friendly but doesn't treat you like an idiot. You are perfectly able to write a sieve script that will delete all your incoming mail.
  • Anecdotally, since Fastmail began pouring their energies into JMAP, their mail delivery seemed to get slower on regular IMAP apps (e.g. iOS Mail). It's good to return to the regular speed of IMAP.
  • The complete absence of limits. No limits on number of users or domains or storage. No limits! You can literally open a single account and create separate email accounts for all your friends, family, employees, etc.

I've had some very minor hiccups with deliverability, i.e. some of my emails have bounced from servers that have been poorly set up. These have been when I've needed to email a place who had their IT setup by a guy named Gavin who arrives in a van. I've had no deliverability problems with the major providers.

I know some people are reluctant to use a mail provider run by a single person but I don't really understand this. Most people would only have one doctor, one lawyer, one accountant, etc. It seems weird to put your email above that.

For those curious about how the advanced billing actually breaks down, here's my billing for May:

Code:
Total: $0.84
Mail import/export job (seconds running): 3447 ($0.02)
Storage (GB/month): 1.02 ($0.05)
Shared-domain user fees (dollars/year): 0.00 ($0.00)
Emails received (GB): 0.43 ($0.02)
Emails received: 2559 ($0.09)
Yearly account fee (days): 24 ($0.26)
Metadata (GB/month): 0.00 ($0.00)
Emails sent to non-Purelymail accounts: 196 ($0.39)
Emails sent (GB): 0.00 ($0.00)
Emails sent: 207 ($0.01)
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Old 11 Jun 2020, 05:57 PM   #3
JeremyNicoll
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Having only one doctor/dentist etc is usually not a problem (around these parts) if the dr/dentist is ill or on holiday, because they usually either have other professionals working at the same place, or some sort of contingency arrangement with a nearby practice.

Having a mail provider run by one person isn't a problem if they are ill for a day or two, if the system runs by itself unattended. But if that person eg goes into hospital for a month, or dies, what then?


Also, while I realise that all the services these people offer seem to be in the cloud (on AWS servers), and so in theory they could be based anywhere, where they are (or he is) matters. Only in their Terms of Service under "Applicable Law" did I find any clue - apparently United States federal law and the laws of the state of Delaware are significant.

Last edited by JeremyNicoll : 11 Jun 2020 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 11 Jun 2020, 06:57 PM   #4
TenFour
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I tried Purelymail briefly and basically liked it, and I agree the owner/manager is very responsive. Being a one-man band he does everything and therefore knows everything, but I wonder how that will scale as the business grows? Just be sure to have things set up so you could move away quickly if you ever needed to (owner hit by a bus problem). In other words, either local or online backups of all your email in other systems, along with the ability to change your DNS quickly. To me, living in the USA, being located here is an advantage. I'm on the East Coast and PM is on the West Coast, so that means his working hours extend well into my evening. Makes him easy to reach.
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Old 11 Jun 2020, 09:32 PM   #5
rnkn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyNicoll View Post
Having only one doctor/dentist etc is usually not a problem (around these parts) if the dr/dentist is ill or on holiday, because they usually either have other professionals working at the same place, or some sort of contingency arrangement with a nearby practice.

Having a mail provider run by one person isn't a problem if they are ill for a day or two, if the system runs by itself unattended. But if that person eg goes into hospital for a month, or dies, what then?

Also, while I realise that all the services these people offer seem to be in the cloud (on AWS servers), and so in theory they could be based anywhere, where they are (or he is) matters. Only in their Terms of Service under "Applicable Law" did I find any clue - apparently United States federal law and the laws of the state of Delaware are significant.
I doubt anyone would place the importance of their emails above another human life, but for sake of argument, I think Purelymail would also have a contingency plan in place, and even if this weren't the case, I think it's much more of a problem if you have a toothache and your dentist has gone AWOL than if the guy who maintains your email service disappears, because the email service will (theoretically) remain functional for a while without human care, but without your dentist you've still got the toothache!

Obviously mail servers require upkeep, so in the worst case scenario where Scott disappears and no one knows about it, I'd say you'd have a month or two to move your mail.

I think the Dr. Strangelove scenario is far more likely: where someone at AWS goes rogue and begins maliciously taking out servers.

As for jurisdictions, I treat all email as insecure, so it's not so important. I don't think it's incumbent upon mail providers to offer protection from state-sponsored surveillance.
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Old 11 Jun 2020, 09:36 PM   #6
rnkn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
Being a one-man band he does everything and therefore knows everything, but I wonder how that will scale as the business grows?
If it got too much I assume he'd hire someone? Most likely I think this would be to field support requests.
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Old 11 Jun 2020, 09:43 PM   #7
TenFour
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Quote:
As for jurisdictions, I treat all email as insecure, so it's not so important. I don't think it's incumbent upon mail providers to offer protection from state-sponsored surveillance.
If you're worried about surveillance you will probably want to use an encrypted service like ProtonMail, but I still believe that if state-level intelligence wants your emails they will get them one way or another. For most of us, the most important security issues are protections against phishing and malware in our Inbox and attacks on the email infrastructure. That's where the big players like Gmail really shine. They have thousands of people and tons of infrastructure fighting this stuff. For example, I can't remember the last phishing email that arrived in my Gmail inbox. As always, we tend to worry about the wrong things, and I think that is the case with state-sponsored surveillance, at least for most of us.
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Old 12 Jun 2020, 01:52 AM   #8
JeremyNicoll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnkn View Post
I doubt anyone would place the importance of their emails above another human life, but for sake of argument, I think Purelymail would also have a contingency plan in place...
Well I wouldn't consider using the service unless I knew that someone else did know all the passwords, system architecture and so on. I saw nothing on their website saying they do have technical backup.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rnkn View Post
, and even if this weren't the case, I think it's much more of a problem if you have a toothache and your dentist has gone AWOL...
Dentistry has been inaccessible - except for dire emergency - around these parts, since lockdown started. People are just having to live with it. Even if there is an emergency dental service somewhere near(ish) how does one get there and back safely?


Quote:
Originally Posted by rnkn View Post
... than if the guy who maintains your email service disappears, because the email service will (theoretically) remain functional for a while without human care...

Obviously mail servers require upkeep, so in the worst case scenario where Scott disappears and no one knows about it, I'd say you'd have a month or two to move your mail.
No, the worst case scenario is the system stops working immediately because there's something or other that he does manually every day that he's meaning to automate but hasn't yet. Or something that's done manually once a month... but tomorrow is the day it has to be done. Or a server crashes somewhere and no-one has the authority to restart it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rnkn View Post
I think the Dr. Strangelove scenario is far more likely: where someone at AWS goes rogue and begins maliciously taking out servers.
But even if that happens, AWS is surely sufficiently professionally well run that there's many engineers around who can restore services. Use of their datacentres is one of the few positives I see in this service.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rnkn View Post
As for jurisdictions, I treat all email as insecure, so it's not so important. I don't think it's incumbent upon mail providers to offer protection from state-sponsored surveillance.
I'm not sure I have a view on where they are; I was just observing that finding out whose laws apply etc required some digging around on their website and I wondered why it wasn't more immediately apparent.
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Old 12 Jun 2020, 04:11 AM   #9
TenFour
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I'm pretty sure he's based in California.
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Old 12 Jun 2020, 05:34 PM   #10
JeremyNicoll
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
I'm pretty sure he's based in California.
So why Delaware law?
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Old 12 Jun 2020, 06:39 PM   #11
TenFour
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Probably incorporated in Delaware, which is a favorite state for creating easy, cheap companies. Regulations are much easier to comply with.
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Old 12 Jun 2020, 07:35 PM   #12
chrisretusn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
For most of us, the most important security issues are protections against phishing and malware in our Inbox and attacks on the email infrastructure. That's where the big players like Gmail really shine. They have thousands of people and tons of infrastructure fighting this stuff. For example, I can't remember the last phishing email that arrived in my Gmail inbox.
Agree with this for the most part. Like you I haven't received an phishing or 409 type email in my inbox in ages. Those big players like Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook to a good job with this. With the exception of Gmail, I have multiple accounts with the other two.

That said, I seem to have an issue with legitimate emails showing up in Spam/Junk way to often. It is extremely annoying. I using an an email client using the POP3 protocol for all but one account which I use IMAP. The IMAP account isn't an issue, since I have access to the Junk folder in the client. With the other accounts, this means I must log in to the web access at least weekly just to check for legit emails in Junk. It a pain in the neck. Unfortunately these services do not allow your to disable spam filtering. My client is perfectly able to handle spam. It has been trained well.

Yes I could go IMAP for all these accounts, but I rather enjoy getting all emails in one Inbox (excluding the IMAP account).

A side note. I remeber back in the old days one could set a POP3 account to access specific email boxes. Those were the days.

A stay on topic note. I like this Purelymail, I might consider it. I have a similar type account with BlueHome.
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Old 12 Jun 2020, 07:50 PM   #13
TenFour
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Quote:
That said, I seem to have an issue with legitimate emails showing up in Spam/Junk way to often.
I have accounts with Outlook.com, business Outlook, and Gmail. Outlook, both versions, is terrible at putting stuff into Junk that shouldn't be there. Doesn't matter what you do--whitelist, add to contacts, whatever. You basically have to look at Junk as another Inbox and check it every day. With Gmail I don't have this problem. I check Spam a couple of times a week and once in awhile there is something there I actually want to see--usually a marketing email. But, if I add someone to my address book Gmail delivers it to the Inbox. Yahoo is just impossibly horrible, in my experience. I may still have an account there, but it was such a Spam magnet I never look.
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Old 12 Jun 2020, 07:57 PM   #14
chrisretusn
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Yes, Gmail is much better that those other two, plus it keeps spam a bit longer that those other two. Outlook is 10 days. Yahoo.... well I have four account with them. One an main account. One of these days, I will drop all Yahoo accounts. They are the worst.
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Old 14 Jun 2020, 12:57 AM   #15
SideshowBob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnkn View Post
The price is so cheap! I really hope he raises prices, because I do not feel that I am paying enough for the quality service I'm getting. (This is another reason I prefer the advanced billing; if I use more than my share I want to pay for it.)
What puts me off is that I don't know where it's heading. He's charging $4 - 10 pa at the moment in beta, but in a couple of years time it could be $40, like mxroute.

There does seem to be a niche opening up around $10 pa, I hope he sticks to that.
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