Homelab 2021 - Email Migration

Part 1 of the homelab 2021 posts can be found here.

With the homelab server up and running it was time to migrate away from arguably the most invasive service I use - Gmail. For years I have relied on Gmail as my primary email provider and for many years I ignored the tracking, scanning, and who else knows what. It was time to make a change but I did not want to give up a few things.

  • Ability to utilize my own domain
  • Support for multiple hardware security keys
  • Support for the '+' alias for tracking who may have leaked or shared my email
  • Standard IMAP and DAV protocol support for email, contacts, and calendar
  • Long track record of decent privacy practices


After looking at a few different services I settled on Fastmail referral link. They tick all of the boxes above and are priced such that I can be confident they will be around for a long time. They also have decent (but not great) mobile apps for iOS and iPad. I have been experimenting with their applications instead of the built-in Mail, Calendar, Contacts in the Apple ecosystem and so far they are working quite well.

So with Fastmail being the provider of choice I needed to go through a few steps to get setup and migrate my old email. I also needed to ensure my gmail account continues to receive and forward email as transitioning will take some time.

Custom Domain Setup

I started by setting up my fastmail account with my custom domain. This was simple and straightforward using the instructions from the Fastmail website. I went into my DNS provider (currently Google Domains but switching soon) and added the appropriate MX records and domain verification TXT records. A few minutes later my domain was ready and I was receiving email!

Email, Contacts, Calendar Migration

Next up was the migration of existing data from Gmail. Fastmail has a built-in import tool that connects and transfers your email. My roughly 8GB mailbox was transferred in less than a few minutes. For my contacts I went into the gmail address book and exported all of the contacts. I then imported them into Fastmail and verified everything was ok. Next up was my calendars. I took the time to slectively migrate a few of my calendars as I had some old cruft. I was also able to easily grab the URL for the public calendars I use for holidays and sports schedules and connect those as well - remember live sports???

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is critical in todays world. It was time to setup my hardware security keys and soft token to keep my account secure. I was able to add all of my security keys (Yubikey 5ci is my primary key and multiple USB backup keys) and 1Password as a software key. Fastmail supported all of them and allows me to label them so I can keep track. Some other software companies should take note - this is how it should be done!

Mail Forwarding

Finally I setup forwarding within Gmail so I dont miss any emails to my old address. I also setup Fastmail to reply from my new address. This should help speed up the migration to the new email.

Automated Backups

Last but not least I needed to setup the backup job on the storage server. As mentioned in the previous article I am using mbsync. I am utilizing Jake Wharton's customized container as it has some health check integration that I appreciate for ensuring my backups are running smoothly. The configuration file I setup for Fastmail is here.

Closing Thoughts

With the move to Fastmail referral link I feel that one of the most invasive services I rely on is now in the past - so goodbye gmail, thank you for serving me well all those years.