EmailDiscussions.com  

Go Back   EmailDiscussions.com > Email Service Provider-specific Forums > FastMail Forum
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Stay in touch wirelessly

FastMail Forum All posts relating to FastMail.FM should go here: suggestions, comments, requests for help, complaints, technical issues etc.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 24 Oct 2018, 06:18 AM   #1
redge
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 15
Why We Chose FastMail Over G Suite and Office 365

There are a number of threads that touch on choosing between these applications. I thought that I'd set out the reasons my organisation recently chose FastMail, because our reasons don't seem to be reflected elsewhere on the forum.

Historically, I've used Microsoft for work (365 Enterprise, fully loaded), and Apple for personal projects (Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Pages, Numbers & iCloud). For personal e-mail, I've used, in addition to Apple (john.doe@icloud.com), both Google (john.doe@gmail.com) and Microsoft (john.doe@outlook.com). On the cloud storage side, I'm pretty familiar with DropBox in addition to iCloud.

I'm currently involved in a start-up that needs a business web site (ultimatewidget.com) and business e-mail (john.doe@ultimatewidget.com).

We have decided to go with Apple hardware (computers, phones, tablets) and productivity software (Pages, Numbers, Keynote & iCloud). We would also go with Apple Mail, but it does not support private e-mail addresses such as john.doe@ultimatewidget.com. Nor do Gmail and Outlook.

We narrowed our options to FastMail, G Suite and Office 365, and we gave each a trial run. These all cost pretty much the same per user. The decision came down to features, but with an outcome that is perhaps not obvious.

Having chosen to go with Apple productivity tools and cloud storage, the problem with G Suite and Office 365 is that they include tools and storage that are not only redundant to our needs, but being built-in are quite liable to create confusion. Sometimes choice gets in the way of simplicity, clarity and focus. In the case of G Suite's Gmail, we also decided that we preferred e-mail folders to Gmail's labelling system.

In the end, we decided to go with FastMail. It does one thing and appears to do it well. Most of us also intend to use the FastMail app on mobile devices in order to help separate our business e-mail from personal e-mail. It might be worth noting that this desire for a dedicated app was one of the reasons that currently trendy ProtonMail did not make our shortlist.

The outstanding question is whether to use Apple's or FastMail's Contact and Calendar functions. I haven't quite figured out the implications either way. Given that we'll be using iCloud for storage and sharing, I also haven't decided whether there is a role for FastMail's Files storage function. My gut sense, perhaps wrong, is that it is a bit anachronistic in an age of ubiquitous cloud storage. It's unclear to me what the practical use case is for it.

It's also important to point out that we intend to use e-mail mainly for communication with people outside our organisation and perhaps for particularly formal discussion within. Inside, we'll mostly use instant messaging, possibly Slack but more likely Workplace by Facebook. This reflects the diminishing role of e-mail, and the increasing role of messaging, within organisations. As part of identifying a messaging app, we also looked at TopicBox, a product related to FastMail, but in my view it is too close to traditional e-mail - maybe good for a group e-mail list, but not for fast, informal, brief communication. The great advantage of Facebook's Workplace over Slack - and I say this as someone who does not have a Facebook account - is that just about everyone knows how Facebook works, which means that it requires no training. For non-tech people, which includes an important part of our staff, Slack is just too tech nerd oriented.

Basically, we selected an e-mail provider by looking at our written communication needs as a whole rather than at e-mail in isolation. Perhaps paradoxically, that resulted in choosing a specialised e-mail provider. In any event, two weeks in, I'm very happy with FastMail. Compared to dealing with G Suite's Administration Consol and Gmail Settings, it is a pleasure to work with FastMail's back end, even if there's a bit of a learning curve.

Last edited by redge : 25 Oct 2018 at 01:36 AM.
redge is offline   Reply With Quote

Old 24 Oct 2018, 08:39 AM   #2
Berenburger
The "e" in e-mail
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 2,396
Quote:
Originally Posted by redge View Post
The outstanding question is whether to use Apple's or FastMail's Contact and Calendar functions. I haven't quite figured out the implications either way. Given that we'll be using iCloud for storage and sharing, I also haven't decided whether there is a role for FastMail's Files storage function. My gut sense, perhaps wrong, is that it is a bit anachronistic in an age of ubiquitous cloud storage.
Useful contribution, thank you.

A few small remarks. Pay attention, iCloud is basically a syncing service, not really a cloud storage service. FM's file storage is a 'nice to have', but unsuitable for modern sharing files. The same applies to the website feature. Syncing calendars between FM and iCloud is very easy to do (just login with your iCloud account) and works flawless. Contacts are not as easy as Calendar. You need to deal with CardDAV settings.

Keep reviewing.
Berenburger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24 Oct 2018, 08:48 AM   #3
redge
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Berenburger View Post
Useful contribution, thank you.

A few small remarks. Pay attention, iCloud is basically a syncing service, not really a cloud storage service. FM's file storage is a 'nice to have', but unsuitable for modern sharing files. The same applies to the website feature. Syncing calendars between FM and iCloud is very easy to do (just login with your iCloud account) and works flawless. Contacts are not as easy as Calendar. You need to deal with CardDAV settings.

Keep reviewing.
Thanks, much appreciate your comments on FastMail file storage, contacts and calendar.

We've looked into iCloud carefully and I think that the current iteration will work for us, including for file sharing. That said, I won't hesitate to move elsewhere on storage/sharing if we need to. I just want it in one, clear place, not carved up.
redge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 01:02 AM   #4
jhollington
Essential Contributor
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 362
Quote:
Originally Posted by redge View Post
The outstanding question is whether to use Apple's or FastMail's Contact and Calendar functions. I haven't quite figured out the implications either way.
For most it's generally a flip of the coin, as iCloud is basically the came CalDAV and CardDAV technology under the hood that FastMail uses, although there are some pros and cons to each....

The upside of using iCloud Calendar and Contacts is that it's easier to set up, since most users will already have an iCloud account anyway. FastMail requires some manual configuration, or at least the pushing out of profiles onto user's Macs and iOS devices.

iCloud also makes it easier to share calendars with other iCloud users; this can be done with FastMail as well, but it's not natively built into the Calendars app on iOS.

If you want to use the "VIP" contacts feature in Apple Mail, you'll need to at least keep iCloud Contacts sync enabled to sync these VIP lists between your devices. Oddly, however, you don't appear to actually need to have any contacts stored in iCloud you can empty out your iCloud contacts entirely, and use FastMail exclusively, but you need to keep the iCloud Contacts sync option enabled to sync the VIP list between your devices.

On the FastMail side, the main advantage of using FastMail for your contacts is that you will be able to take advantage of server-side rules based on your contacts or contact lists. At the most basic level, this includes things like not marking a message as spam if the sender is in your address book, but you can also create rules based on what address book group a contact is in. Of course, you can do this in Apple Mail on the Mac as well, but that requires the Mac to be up and running in order to process the rules.

FastMail also allows for the ability to have shared address books, which iCloud does not presently offer, although these don't really translate as well well into the iOS and Mac Contacts apps, so I don't really consider that much of an advantage unless you live in the web interface.

Quote:
Given that we'll be using iCloud for storage and sharing, I also haven't decided whether there is a role for FastMail's Files storage function. My gut sense, perhaps wrong, is that it is a bit anachronistic in an age of ubiquitous cloud storage. It's unclear to me what the practical use case is for it.
FastMail's files storage function is definitely not something I'd consider suitable for workgroup file sharing.
It's mostly a place to make files available online, create simple photo galleries, and publish static websites. It could be useful for you for that last feature if your company has a simple static site (no PHP or other server-side scripting), but most companies already have other hosting providers anyway.

iCloud isn't particularly ideal for this either, however, as its sharing features are still quite rudimentary compared to Dropbox or Google Drive. For instance, there's no way to share an entire folder with other members of your team. That said, if you're primarily collaborating on individual files in Apple's own iWork apps (Pages/Numbers/Keynote), it actually works very well.
jhollington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 03:57 AM   #5
redge
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 15
Thanks jhollington,

Your comments on FastMail file storage, contacts and calendar are going to save me some time

I think that iCloud will work fine for us internally. We're also going to set up Dropbox as most, if not all, of the people that we'll be working with externally use it.
redge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 08:42 AM   #6
TenFour
Essential Contributor
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 367
Personally, I have found that sticking to one or another ecosystem proves to be more functional in the long run. For me that has become Google, without the G Suite, which I tried and found to be too cumbersome for my tiny (just me) business. However, I can send my domain email via regular Gmail for free, and I have found it to be extremely reliable. I even moved my main domain to Google Domains since I have experienced some reliability issues occasionally with other providers. For a small business or even just a sole proprietor like me the sharing via Google Docs is a huge productivity enhancer. I have worked simultaneously with someone else on the same document when in a hurry and we both could watch what the other was doing, communicate via the chat about it, and have a finished product in a fraction of the time. Plus, Gmail's spam, phishing, and malware filters are the best in the business, meaning I have very little worries in that regard without having to mind filters or monitor anything--it just works nearly perfectly. I find labels extremely useful and easy. It is also great to have instant syncing between my phone and any PC I need to log into, including all my contacts, Keep notes, photos, and of course everything in Drive. It would be hard to give up all that. In the recent past I worked a lot on the road and I could carry in a shoulder bag everything I needed and have no worries about files, photos, contacts, syncing, etc., etc. In the worst case scenario of losing my phone or laptop to theft or destruction I could pop into any store, purchase a new one, and have full business functionality up and running within no time.

In any case, to each his own, but my main point is that having all the different components mesh perfectly makes a huge difference every day.
TenFour is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 09:55 AM   #7
redge
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
Personally, I have found that sticking to one or another ecosystem proves to be more functional in the long run.

...

I can send my domain email via regular Gmail for free.

...

having all the different components mesh perfectly makes a huge difference every day.
Hi TenFour,

We're on the same page. You chose Google, we chose Apple.

Having chosen Apple, we have to address the fact that it does not support private domain e-mail. That is, it supports john.doe@icloud.com, but not john.doe@ultimatewidget.com.

We have two options. The first is to use our domain host provider's e-mail application and the second is to pay for an outside service such as Google G Suite, Microsoft Office 365 or FastMail. We have decided to go with the second option and have chosen FastMail.

As domain host, we are interested in Netlify and are determining whether we can make it work for us. Our alternate is MediaTemple, mostly because I'm familiar with it and like its back end. I don't know much about your domain host - Google Domains - but I gather that you are using a variation on option #1, perhaps with the use of an alias, for your e-mail.

Cheers

Last edited by redge : 25 Oct 2018 at 10:11 AM.
redge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 10:25 AM   #8
TenFour
Essential Contributor
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 367
I understand--the domain email thing is why I think there are only two really good ecosystems for small businesses--Microsoft and Google. Where I work right now we are torn between the two offerings. They both have their pluses and minuses. Most small businesses run on Office and email, so those two are critical. Without Office, you would eliminate about 90% of what we work on every day, so my main job we are looking at Office 365. My personal business is just me, and I find that Google's stuff is just about perfect. For me email is critical since it is the way almost every new job comes in. One missed email could cost me a lot, and I feel Google is the real email specialist.

It is not really practical for a multi-person business, but you can set up free domain email using your regular Gmail account as described at Google Domains.
TenFour is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 11:04 AM   #9
redge
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
I understand--the domain email thing is why I think there are only two really good ecosystems for small businesses--Microsoft and Google.
Hi TenFour,

It's clear from your post that you have used Microsoft and Google for business, but is your opinion based on also actually having used Apple for business?

I ask because, where I live, and in our sector, there are an awful lot of small businesses using the Apple ecosystem.

I've yet to see a reason why Apple + FastMail (plus Dropbox, which has become ubiquitous regardless of ecosystem) is inferior to Microsoft or Google for e-mail communication.

As for productivity tools, if one is used to the Apple ecosystem and its tools (Pages, Numbers, Notes, Keynote, Calendar, Contacts), bringing in Microsoft or Google tools introduces a new learning curve, and probable fragmentation, for no apparent reason.

I also think that there is a deeper issue, which is whether a technical issue like e-mail should be driving ecosystem decisions. I think not, especially given that for many businesses the role of e-mail is changing. In our case, we'll use e-mail for external written communication, but for internal written communication we're going to use Workplace by Facebook messaging. If you aren't familiar with it, it's like Slack except with a very familiar interface. If you aren't familiar with Slack, we're running into a generational issue.

I'm just not prepared to let e-mail, a single tool, drive fundamental decisions about how work gets done.

Last edited by redge : 25 Oct 2018 at 11:50 AM.
redge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 11:47 AM   #10
jhollington
Essential Contributor
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 362
Quote:
Originally Posted by redge View Post
I've yet to see a reason why Apple + FastMail (plus Dropbox, which has become ubiquitous regardless of ecosystem) is inferior to Microsoft or Google for e-mail communication.
I'd agree with that sentiment, and in fact take it even a step further.... FastMail is probably one of the very best providers for the Apple ecosystem, and I'd say it handily beats out iCloud e-mail for all but the most casual users.

I'm firmly entrenched in the Apple world as well, both for business and personal use, and that's the exact reason why I use FastMail it not only provides support for custom domains, but it actually does iOS push notifications better than Apple's own iCloud does (and even Apple's macOS Server platform).

Quote:
As for productivity tools, if one is used to the Apple ecosystem and its tools (Pages, Numbers, Notes, Keynote, Calendar, Contacts), bringing in Microsoft or Google tools introduces a new learning curve, and probable fragmentation, for no apparent reason.
Honestly, I don't think that's a zero-sum game where Microsoft's Office suite is concerned. Word and Excel are the 800-lb gorillas in the office productivity space, but they play so nicely with macOS and iOS that the advantage to using Pages or Numbers is relatively minor in fact I'd say the only significant advantage is that you can get real-time collaboration with iCloud, whereas with Microsoft Office you'll have to use either OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive.

Quote:
I also think that there is a deeper issue, which is whether a technical issue like e-mail should be driving ecosystem decisions.
I would agree with your conclusion that it should not drive those kinds of business decisions, but I can see how it does for many people and businesses who are moving primarily to a cloud-based world. TenFour's comments about G Suite being a nice, harmonious ecosystem are valid if you want to live primarily on the web, but honestly G Suite falls down pretty badly in environments where traditional client-side apps are still preferred.

I've lived in all of these worlds at one time or another, and I'll honestly say that there are things to like about G Suite, but the fact is that it's optimally designed for somebody whose entire existence is within the browser (and that browser preferably being Chrome), and whose mobile devices are primarily Android-based. Start mixing and matching desktop clients and iOS devices, and you're really no longer "in the G Suite ecosystem" and it will start to feel disjointed pretty quickly.

On the flip side, if you live within the macOS and iOS world, the choice of e-mail provider becomes primarily a back-end service that feeds data into Apple's Mail apps. At that point, it doesn't particularly matter what IMAP-based e-mail provider you're using as your back-end, although some offer advantages that others don't, and this is where FastMail nudges out many of the rest for features like iOS push notification and solid "standard" IMAP support, and Gmail comes in last due to its slightly off-kilter IMAP implementations and its awkward mapping of labels to folders.
jhollington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 02:46 PM   #11
redge
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 15
JHollington, in the post above, makes some interesting points about how FastMail and MacOS/iOS work together. As someone who is new to using MacOS/iOS with FastMail, I'm not in a position to agree or disagree. However, in the course of my research on e-mail options, I came across these same points several times, and they did influence our decision to go with FastMail.

Coming from Microsoft 365 Enterprise, I agree with his statement that the Apple App versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel work very well. We've made a decision to go with Pages, both because all of the members of our team are comfortable with Pages (which is not the case with Word) and because it works really well with iCloud. Numbers/Excel is a special case. Internally, we will be using Numbers for purposes unrelated to bookkeeping/accounting. The latter functions will be handled by an external bookkeeper and accountant who I know use Excel.

Last edited by redge : 25 Oct 2018 at 03:08 PM.
redge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 08:14 PM   #12
TenFour
Essential Contributor
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 367
It all depends on what works best for you. Email is a critical component for many of us and FM is a great solution. But, I have found staying in one of the big ecosystems works best in the long run. Your questions around contacts and calendars are a case in point.
TenFour is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25 Oct 2018, 11:34 PM   #13
jhollington
Essential Contributor
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 362
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
But, I have found staying in one of the big ecosystems works best in the long run. Your questions around contacts and calendars are a case in point.
The problem is for G Suite you're really tied into that ecosystem on just about every level if you want the best overall experience. This means using Chrome as your primary browser and using Android as your mobile operating system. Otherwise, you'll have the same sort of issues around things like contacts and calendars (and even e-mail if you choose to use something outside of the Gmail web interface).

While Google makes some decent iOS apps, there's no question that they're third-party apps that don't tie into the core iOS experience nearly as well as they should, and Google doesn't even (yet) have a Contacts app for iOS, so you're left with the same sort of questions about how Google's CardDAV implementation works with Apple's contacts app. On the mobile side, it's pretty much necessary to live within apps. On the desktop, Google just expects you to live within the browser (hence the existence of things like the Chromebook *which I actually used for a while back when I was "all-in" on G Suite).

To be honest, I think most people miss that Apple really is its own "big ecosystem" because it hasn't really stretched out into the corporate market as boldly as Microsoft and Google have, but really the only missing piece for most users is FastMail, which works so well with Apple's platform that it's easy to forget it's an outside component. Besides, if you're using traditional mail clients rather than webmail, the e-mail provider is mostly just "the plumbing" that you never really interact with directly.

Similarly, those who are entrenched in the Windows world will often find the Microsoft ecosystem to be a much better fit it ties in more closely with the core Windows operating system tools, and of course everything in Microsoft Office, from Word to Outlook, is designed to just "fit" with the WIndows user experience.

In short, G Suite is a fantastic solution for those who prefer the ubiquity of the web, but to get the best experience, you have to be willing to live in that ecosystem and essentially discard traditional desktop and mobile clients or in the very least live with the quirks of trying to sync with them.

As much as I like Gmail on many different levels (every few months I find myself re-evaluating if I should switch back over to it, and I still maintain a paid G Suite account and keep my e-mail archive over there too), like redge said, the choice of e-mail provider isn't a driver of ecosystem choices for everybody... e-mail is important to me as well, but I'm not about to switch to Android just because I like Gmail on the desktop, and on the iOS side, it just doesn't provide nearly the smooth user experience that Apple's first-party apps do (I've also been waiting to see if Google will update its Gmail for iOS app with the new design elements that came to Android earlier this year ... right now the app is way more clunky and cumbersome than it should be).
jhollington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26 Oct 2018, 10:55 AM   #14
redge
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
It all depends on what works best for you. Email is a critical component for many of us and FM is a great solution. But, I have found staying in one of the big ecosystems works best in the long run. Your questions around contacts and calendars are a case in point.
So basically, choose whatever works best for you, but you have made the wrong choice unless you choose Microsoft or Google.

Meanwhile, I have asked you expressly whether you have actually used Apple as a business platform, and thus far you have declined to answer the question. If you have indeed worked with Apple as a business platform, I again ask you to say so and comment concretely on any deficiencies when it comes to e-mail, or indeed otherwise. If you don't have any personal experience with Apple as a business platform, why not just say so and leave it at that?

Luckily, there have thus far been a number of contributions to this discussion, based on actual experience with all three platforms, that have been very helpful.

Last edited by redge : 26 Oct 2018 at 12:05 PM.
redge is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26 Oct 2018, 01:48 PM   #15
TenFour
Essential Contributor
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 367
Calm down. I have used Apple products professionally since they existed, and most of my household is all Apple. I currently use Linux myself for most things, but I work fulltime with Microsoft at work, and I use Gmail and Google stuff with all of them. With what I do 90% of the time I am working with Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Gmail, and Drive. However, I find lots of problems with Apple in business unless you go full Office, and then it is much cheaper, easier and more compatible to go all Microsoft. With Office 365 you get at least 1TB of storage per seat, 50GB inboxes, all the latest office programs, and very reliable email that works with your domain and perfectly with Outlook. OneDrive and Sharepoint syncing work well. The apps work very well on Android phones, though not sure about on iOS.
TenFour is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT +9. The time now is 08:28 AM.

 

Copyright EmailDiscussions.com 1998-2013. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy