Kill Your Email Server

Are you running an email server? Postfix? Exim? qmail? Kill it.

Cyrus IMAP? UW IMAP? POP3d? Kill, kill, kill. RoundCube, SquirrelMail, Horde? Kill.

Ask yourself one simple question:

Do I want to be an expert in email hosting, or do I want to get back to coding my app?”

Unless your business is email hosting — it’s time to kiss your email server goodbye.

Make it Someone Else’s Problem™

Use Google Apps. For $5/user/month, you get the great Gmail interface, simple management tools, and no spam, EVER. You cannot beat Google at email hosting. Why?

  1. Email sucks.
  2. Hosting email eats your time — blacklists, spam control, and security patches are just the start of your woes.
  3. As an entrepreneur, you have no time to spend screwing around with email.

The best devops automation in the world isn’t going to make email suck any less.

When crap breaks, I want to focus on my applications. I don’t want to troubleshoot mail. I happily pay $5/month to NEVER have to think about it.

Do I take email for granted? Absolutely. I want to open my browser and get my mail and never have to think about how it gets there.

There are only two questions to answer:

  1. How does mail get to me? and
  2. How do I send mail?

Inbound Mail

Google Apps. Google Apps. Google Apps.

But I don’t trust Google!” — someone

Last I checked, Google buys companies they’re interested in, like Blogger. I doubt their competitive advantage is from reading private email.

BUT what about encryption and privacy!?” You do know that the courts will simply order you to decrypt your email, right? If your business requires secrecy from the US government, then go ahead and close this tab, this isn’t the article for you.

Stripe uses Google Apps. They make lots of money. Google Apps even lets them do some amazing things with internal communications.

Could Stripe hire a top-notch sysadmin to do their email? Yep. Would the new hire, plus servers cost more than $50/user/year? Yep. Is “great email hosting” a core of Stripe’s business model? Hell no.

Outbound Mail

Use SendGrid, Mandrill, or anything else. You can start with Google Apps, but they cap outbound messages at around 500/day, easy to hit with a growing SaaS.

Kill your mailer daemon and use nullmailer. Postfix, Exim, etc., are fine as well, but complete overkill. You don’t want to run a public email server, remember?

TL;DR: Life is too short to run an email server.

You have a product to build, customers to win over, family and friends to enjoy time with, and your own health and well being to look after. Pay someone else to worry about email. Focus on what’s important.

To mistreat an aphorism: “No person, on his deathbed, says, ‘I wish I spent more time troubleshooting email.’”

Tagged as: email priorities basics

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Hey — thanks for reading!

My name is Fred, and I'm a web developer by trade, Linux sysadmin by necessity. I want you to win at hosting your own web applications.

Server administration doesn't have to come with a side of stomach ulcer.

As a developer you've got most of the skills you need, all you need are some practical ways to up your server game.

Questions? Email me.