Blogprefect has always been lacking dedicated email services. One particular criticism I have for BlueHost is their frugal offering in this regard. I went in search of an email provider who could hand my needs in the best possible way.
This will only benefit you if;
- you have a self hosted website and need to use emails with your domain, e.g. Joe@JoeBloggs.Biz
- plan to use a paid email service rather than the numerous free options available
Why I Chose FastMail Over Google Apps
Throughout BlogPrefect’s history I have remained neutral by not introducing advertising or being in the pocket of any corporation.
This article contains an affiliate link. By clicking on this link you are under no personal obligation. I have recommended this service through a positive response from using it myself. To be transparent my view may engender bias. In order to provide balance, an alternative option is available to view on my blogging friend’s website; Ahmad Imran at ReasonToUse.com. There are other alternatives out there for you to find.
I’ve decided to offer an affiliate link on this service for two reasons:-
- Bloggers need a dedicated email service if the host provider does not provide one. Email is essential for networking and social activity. Many hosts provide a basic email system but it can be difficult to setup and work effectively.
- I wish to try and supplement some of the running costs of BlogPrefect.com. These costs have been increasing over time. By clicking the link and signing up for services you provide me with aid in providing you content. I appreciate this form of contribution.
Note: A trial version is available.
What is FastMail?
It is a mail service provider. If you are familiar with Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail, you’ll know exactly what it is and what it does.
Why is FastMail Different?
- There is no clutter from advertising.
- The look is cleaner and sharper and does exactly what it says on the tin.
- This system is silky smooth.
- Fastmail is fast.
How I Use FastMail
I specifically wanted a secure way of viewing all of my emails including those from my domains. I have started the steady process of moving the email I want to FastMail.
The major benefit of using this system is using my domain’s email!
It Isn’t All Plain Sailing
Note: there is some tech-speak in this run through. If you are not familiar with the back-end of your hosting service and are afraid of code don’t worry!
Disclaimer/Words of Caution: Before amending your DNS MX records ensure you have recorded the original settings in case you make a mistake and need to reverse changes made. When coding, it is always wise to make a backup/restore point where the system was working, prior to making changes (it will be difficult to steady the horse after it has bolted). FastMail and your Host may indicate that the changes made in these records are “highly visible” and should be conducted out of peak viewing hours. The change will take time and you may have further work to do if the changes made were unsuccessful. Whilst the information supplied by FastMail’s help section is comprehensive, it doesn’t address specific Domain Hosts and their unique settings. If in doubt, don’t carry out.
I decided to leave my “Nameservers” where they were and simply point my MX records to FastMail.
FastMail provide their own domain hosting but I didn’t want to switch.
MX Records Via the DNS (Host Side)
The MX records are a little tricky to set up if you are a novice.
I will be creating a guide for BlueHost users on how to change your settings. There are other useful guides for other hosts.
The change took a while and I had to make sure I was typing in the right code for my DNS. You get to your DNS records via the Cpanel.
MX record amendment requires one element to be edited and a new element to be added.
Domain Security: DKIM & SPF (Host Side)
In addition to setting up the “name-engine” portions of the MX records (Host Side), you have to set up a DKIM Signing Key and an SPF record.
The DKIM signing key is to prevent other email recipients from being spammed by your email. Consider it a wax seal on the envelope. The SPF record helps in a similar way for the IMAP protocol. These records are added as txt instructions. In BlueHost’s case an SPF record was already present so I modified it with FastMail’s details.
Most of this is copy and paste. Simple stuff. A few dropdowns and you get the right detail.
I left the system to switch over night. BlueHost indicated that it would promulgate the changes in 4 hours.
After aligning all the cogs, FastMail sent a confirmation message to say that my Domain was ready to rock. All I had to do next was setup my aliases.
Alias Must Haves (FastMail Side)
Two aliases that you should have at the start are abuse and postmaster. You can then go crazy on the aliases. Obvious choices are;
- First Name
Give FastMail a Spin
I’ve rattled on about this service but ultimately the proof is in the pudding. Why don’t you give it a try? You get a limited account for 1 month to try out the system and see if you like it. $40USD a year isn’t bad in my book.
This is only a very brief view of FastMail so far. I’ve only just started using it and in order to give a rounded opinion I’ll be returning in 3 months time to let you know more on my thoughts about the system.
I am looking forward to writing a more detailed guide mentioned above for BlueHost users on how to set up your records. It is super easy when you know what you are doing. At a later date I’ll also make a guide for subdomains.
In the meantime, please feel free to share this, make a comment or get in contact with me. I am now even more available through headboy [at] blogprefect [dot] com and via Twitter.
Featured Image derived from FastMail.com, used for Illustrative purposes. The FastMail logo is copyright of FastMail Pty Ltd.