I recently migrated my wife’s email to GSuite after an unconscionable delay – delayed mostly because the documentation for GSuite left some questions that I wasn’t sure I could easily answer – and the delay was entirely unjustified. It was easy.
I had my own email server back in the day. There were a few vanity addresses, I guess, but nothing especially magical; I had a server running Linux, I set up sendmail and a POP3 server, and off I went. I was old-school; I even used pine for my mail app.
Those were simpler times. I’ve never been a mail hound, really, but back then it seemed like most of the email sent was real and intentional personal interaction; sure, there were mailing lists, there was the occasional promotional email, but spam was usually the result of someone trying to troll you out of humor rather than being what we’d consider spam today.
It got worse; I remember the first time hearing about SpamAssassin and how it worked. I was in one of the early waves of installing it – I can’t imagine I was in the first waves, but it would have been not long after its release.
Then I got the online email account bug – HotMail first (which I still use as a backup and recovery email service, oddly enough), and then GMail. GMail took over everything; I haven’t run my own email server for well over a decade now.
My Wife’s Email
But my wife’s email never quite worked the way it should with her own GMail account. Her domain names kept changing as she improved her mission statement, and as the names proliferated, her DNS records became… byzantine. This name redirected to that one, the MX records were hosted in multiple ways…
It all “worked” but not especially well. A lot of email simply never go to her, and her outgoing emails were iffy, too.
What’s more, she relies on email – this was not a tolerable situation.
The Failed Migration to Postfix
I ended up setting up – for the first time in a long time – my own email server, for the primary purpose of serving as her email server. Postfix and dovecot to the rescue, with Thunderbird as her mail client. Set up MX records for IPv4 and IPv6 pointing to my server, open ports for Thunderbird, require account validation for some measure of security, all would be well!
It was not well.
The IPv6 endpoint, in particular, apparently triggered GMail’s filters; it wouldn’t accept email from IPv6 consistently. What’s more, delivery seemed better but even there it wasn’t consistent.
The server was a “success” in the purely technical sense – could it send mail for users in specific domains? Could it receive mail for those domains? – but it failed in the real sense: giving my wife a satisfactory email service.
It was time to throw in the towel and try GSuite, which had been recommended to me by two people who use it (and whom I trust).
Migrating to GSuite
I held off on the migration initially because:
- I’m Jewish! It’s a paid service!
- The documentation covering the migration suggested that it was easy, but didn’t say why or how.
It was supposed to be trivial, but I wasn’t sure how to set up the custom domains’ MX records (the DNS stuff that tells mailservers where to send mail), nor was I confident in what the impact would be on her free (unpaid) GMail account.
The information was out there, but it wasn’t where I was expecting to find it.
But with my wife needing to be able to rely on her email, I decided to dive in; I’d bug GSuite’s support until it all worked, right? If I was going to give them money, they’d earn it.
It turns out I needn’t have bothered. The steps were pretty simple:
- Set up her GSuite admin account
- Verify that she owned her domain (probably the most “complex” part of this, in that I had to add a TXT record to her DNS, and I used the opportunity to add a proper CNAME and A record instead of a redirect at the DNS server level as well)
- Create an email account for her (which was actually part of the admin setup, so it looked like something I needed to do but wasn’t)
- Change the domain registrar’s MX record for GSuite (which GSuite actually walked me through step by step based on who the registrar was)
- Set up email forwarding from her old GMail account to the new GSuite account (which they walked through, even though I didn’t need that)
- Set up data migration on the GSuite admin page
The data migration was actually the hardest thing in the whole process. The documentation was referred to clearly in each step; like I expected, the information was there, but if you weren’t in the flow of the process, it wasn’t laid out clearly.
But if you were doing the migration, everything was very simple; even the data migration – the “most complex” part – was really simple to do.
And her email service, to the best that we can tell, works reliably now.