Email is a “thing” everyone deals with, so I actually decided to blog about this because there is so much to say.
I run my own VPS software to manage email, cloud backup & sync, and online shopping stores—all in one place at one low price. It’s called “Verb™” and you can see the project here on GitHub if you’re interested: https://github.com/inkverb/verb.
So, you set up your blog and online store, but where do you send your email from? Many people consider sending from within Gmail. But, “Sending from” a non- gmail.com address within Gmail is a premium feature. Quirks in email setups are a normal thing no matter which rout we take. Google actually has a paid service just for managing your email for you and that has its own quirks which my sister had trouble with.
If you use Gmail to “Send from” a non- gmail.com address, when you make major updates to your private email server, you will have trouble sending via Gmail until you set it up again. Part of this is for security. What to do?
There are a few options for managing your own email:
a. You CAN pay Microsoft or Google just to do the email part for a few dollars a year. Many people do this, but it’s not necessary. GoDaddy does premium email hosting also, if you’re interested. But, GoDaddy also wants to sell web hosting, which doesn’t always play well if you’re using awesome tools like Nextcloud.
If you don’t like bumps in the road when your servers get updates, you might consider paying the small fees for premium email. IMHO, the best for premium email hosting is Microsoft. Their email apps are quite nice and work on everything from Windows to Apple machines to Android.
b. You CAN still send from your own email address, managed on your private server, via Gmail. Just set it up in Gmail every time your private email server gets an update. Here’s my video on how:
This is fully legit and many people do this, as I’ll get into below in the part about SSL certs.
c. The third option, and IMHO the best way, for sending from a different email address is to set up that email address in an email client on your phone and computer. Instructions for using an email client are also in the video above, apps on your phone should work much the same way.
This is my own choice. Using a normal email app helps me stay more organized because I know that if an email comes to my phone from my email app, not Gmail, then it relates to my business.
d. The fourth option is to buy your own SSL certs for hundreds of dollars each year. About that…
Buying SSL certs is actually for the web 1.0 world. Supposedly we are in a web 2.0 world, where we use Internet to start the coffee maker. This is often called the “Internet of things”. But, we are moving to what I call a web 2.1 world, where a lot of “dah” stuff is taken care of. That includes SSL.
The reason Gmail doesn’t play well with your own private email server emails is because of SSL certs. Letsencrypt (with Certbot) offers free SSL certificates. I use those free SSL certs on my private servers and they work great! But free Letsencrypt SSL certs are for websites, not email. Many email apps know this, which is why they have the option to “accept non-secure SSL”. It actually is secure, but without paying some company huge money for email certs, so many people do it with email. The security question is whether your web geek department (that’s me) instructs you to do it that way.
But, more and more, SSL certs are becoming a free thing. Consider Google’s .app TLD domain, which includes free SSL. So, using your own email server, your own email client, and putting up with the “insecure SSL certificate” messages is a bit annoying when you do updates and initially set up your email. But, in a few years, it might not even be an issue anymore.
In summary, paying Microsoft is a great rout for premium-lovers, so is being patient with the SSL quirks until we get to web 2.1. You can use Gmail or an email app. There are many ways to crack a nut. Do what works for you.