Shock! G Suite legacy free is disappearing! What should I do?

Hmm… I may be stuck on Gmail. I can’t seem to find any reliable way to grab all my mail (including labels/folders) and import it to standard IMAP. Even my hosting service doesn’t have any suggestions other than trying to use an Outlook pst file to get everything for upload.

Anybody have any tricks that can be used for a complete mailbox migration away from Gmail?

I’m afraid I wasted my 30 day free trial with them and didn’t test enough. I got stuck with which apps you could use during the trial.

Anyway, if I stick with Gmail even for just one more year it would apparently be half the cost of Fastmail. So that’s something to consider for next year for me.

I’m having trouble getting decent support anywhere. Apple Support usually doesn’t know these days. I thought I had good support with Google yesterday (they even shared my screen with a Google Meeting and guided me through something) but they turned out to be completely wrong and now my mother’s old emails are mixed up somewhere with mine and, well, it’s just a mess.

Question about transitioning to iCloud email hosting. I have a family domain with 7 active users. 3 are myself and my household. The other four are my siblings.

If I move the domain hosting to iCloud and setup a server side filter to forward my sibling’s mail to their external addresses, will that work?

I don’t need much more than the ability to forward emails sent to what is essentially a vanity domain.

If this would work, it’s the easiest solution for me. The alternative is to transfer the domain to Google Domains and use their forwarding service.

Nick, I think you’ll need to look elsewhere than iCloud. Custom domains work with Family Sharing, and this support article says family sharing is 6 max. Also, the mail is delivered to iCloud Mail accounts, so everybody needs to have one as members of your Family Sharing. Then each person could set up a rule in iCloud to forward their own mail. So that may be sub-optimal in your case even if the 6 user limit isn’t an issue. If the intent isn’t to read and send mail from the iCloud mailboxes directly, I’d avoid that.


This is also a possibility for complete IMAP transfer, according to my hosting service.

I was about to suggest imapsync in response to your request further up the thread. If you’re comfortable with mild command line use, I would highly recommend it. Robust and fast, and enough options to deal with pretty much any situation. I’ve used it to migrate all users of a small organisation I support from one email host to another. You need to spend a bit of time reading the instructions, but it’s relatively straightforward. And there is a flag to have it do a test run where it doesn’t actually make any changes, so you can get comfortable with it.

It seems it’s not free though, for larger sets of email, is it?


Using their hosted version costs money for larger amounts of email. But I wanted to run it locally anyway. You can just download the command line tool for free and do it all from your Mac.

I’ll check it out. Thanks.

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At this point, in my case as a single user with a custom domain, I can’t think of a good reason to leave Google.

The value proposition for converting G Suite Legacy free edition to Google Workspace Business Starter Edition, as I understand, is:

  1. Continued free until August 2022
  2. Then the cost increases from nothing to $3/user/month until August 2023 when it goes up to $6/user/month
  3. No reductions in service, i.e., you get to keep Google Voice, Google Photos and all the rest of the G Suite Legacy apps, e.g., Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, etc.
  4. Storage doubles (from 15GB to 30GB per user)
  5. Support improves from none to 24/7 with 4-hour service-level objective for P1 cases plus 99.9% uptime SLA
  6. No need to export data from Google and import it somewhere else

And what is the cost of an alternative for email with a custom domain? I hear a lot of people recommending FastMail which offers:

  1. First custom-domain account (with 30GB of storage) for $5/user/month
  2. Additional users on the same domain (with only 2GB of storage each) for $3/user/month
  3. Fewer services, e.g., no VOIP, etc.

It is both cheaper and less hassle to stay with Google until August 2023, right?

I hear people being unhappy with Google’s targeted advertising and tracking. For whatever reason, I haven’t had any ads on the web interface of G Suite Legacy for at least a decade. (I think that they are thwarted by some CSS installed a long time ago.) In any case, there are no Google ads when used through client software such as Apple Mail. As for tracking, isn’t this really a function of using the web interface? Isn’t it the browser and your ISP that’s doing the tracking; aren’t your browser and ISP going to track you just the same if you use the web interface to another provider, including FastMail?

Some people complain about Google scanning your content. But don’t (almost) all email providers store your mail as plain text and scan your mail store? How else can they index your mail so that you can do server-side searches? Do you really prefer to search your mail with Apple Mail, for example, rather than Google’s search engine? Moreover, I really like Google’s server-side filters to label my mail, i.e., automatically put it into folders, because they give me the same view on all my devices. What’s more, server-side rules that forward mail to others fire without waiting for me to download mail to my client.

But really, how much is targeting advertising, tracking, and scanning really bothering you? It apparently wasn’t a problem as long as G Suite didn’t charge a fee. It’s only a concern now because Google raised the price from free to $3/user/month for the coming year, right? The issue isn’t privacy per se; it’s just the price of your privacy.

What am I missing? Isn’t it a no-brainer to stay with Google for at least a year?

For one year, for a single user, perhaps. And there are rumors that Google will relent on the custom domain for 1 user. We’ll see what news there is over the next few weeks.

Since I’m also paying for a private hosting service (standard cPanel for WordPress, etc.) which includes as many domains and email accounts I want, it might be worth it to use a multi-mailbox migration tool and move the IMAP accounts over there. That’s where I already have my blog.

@doug2 Sorry, I didn’t mean to address this to you in particular. I was trying to ask a question of the group in general, sincerely asking if I’m overlooking something.

I apologize if I you feel called out and put on the spot.

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As for me, I only activated email on the domain when it was free. It turns out that I have 8 accounts in the domain, with one of them being an Apple ID used by my son (which is making switching to iCloud a little more complicated.) I don’t use any of these accounts as my primary email account (nor does my son), and I can fold the other 7 down into 1 if I really want to.

None of us are using calendars, photos, voice, even contacts, etc., with these accounts - the only thing that’s being used with the accounts are email. That’s all we need from them.

So I am going to move to something else. iCloud would be ideal if I can get it working, because I am already paying an iCloud+ subscription anyway, so there is no added cost. But I may switch to Fastmail anyway because all I need is mail, that’s what their business is.

For me it’s not really about cost. That’s not what is driving this decision for me, so what it will cost in the long run is secondary to me. I do keep asking myself - if Google made this change after so many years, what will stop Apple from deciding that domain mail services are an extra plus in iCloud+ and there will be an extra yearly fee from them, too? So maybe iCloud+ is equally not a great idea?

If there is one thing that I will miss from Gmail services it is the spam filter. But I have an always-running Mac Mini and a license to Spam Sieve that I am already using for the email account that we have from our ISP (again, not a primary mail account for me), and I can easily add new accounts to that machine.

Yes, offering a free product or service is NOT a sustainable proposition in the long run.

I presume that Google decided that they weren’t getting enough revenue from targeted advertising to the G Suite Legacy free edition users to be worthwhile anymore. I also understand that Google valued have such a large store of colloquial text to process as a test bed for their artificial intelligence work on natural language processing; I think they no longer need so much text to continue enhancing what they’ve already developed.

In my opinion, it is certainly possible that custom domains for iCloud+ customers might become uneconomic for Apple as well, though Apple’s value proposition is nowhere near as attractive as Google’s so perhaps there is no real danger of it becoming oversubscribed.

For me, it’s a pretty easy decision to convert to Google Workspace and stay at least another year based on the economics alone. I’m currently paying Google $20/year for additional storage on my G Suite account and I won’t have this charge after converting to Workspace because my base storage will increase from 15GB to 30GB. So, essentially I’ll pay net (3 - 20/12 ≈ ) $1.33/month for the first year and I think that getting online support on Workspace for $1.33/month is worthwhile and fair.

I currently rely on Google for all my cloud services, e.g., email, contacts, and calendar. I love Gmail’s features, including: attaching multiple labels to an email, server-side filters, SPAM filtering, and search. Having so much processing done on the server makes me largely agnostic regarding devices and I value this highly (despite the fact that all my devices are from Apple), perhaps because I keenly remember Apple teetering on the precipice before being acquired by NeXT in the ‘90s.

I have another domain hosted at an major ISP and converting to Workspace now gives me a year to consider consolidating the two domains, either at my current ISP or another.

Not at all! I assumed you were asking the group in general. :slight_smile:

I also have that because my current email totals 25 GB. But… if I drop that extra subscription I wonder how that will affect my overage in Google Photos (the main bulk of which is also grandfathered in to when they were giving unlimited photo and video storage).

Nothing at all. And Apple (like Google) has dropped on-line services in the past.

If you want something you can be (reasonably) confident of being long-term reliable, I don’t think you’re going to get it from any free service. It might be worth looking for inexpensive paid hosting from a reputable service provider (and in the process, maybe get web hosting and other possibly useful services).

When you have a paid-up contract, then the service provider is legally obligated to abide by the terms of that contract (which you must read and review before signing). The terms may change when you renew, but that’s a risk no matter what you do. But when you’re using a free service, that contract (that everybody clicks through without reading) goes one-way - it only protects the service provider and gives you no rights whatsoever.

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That’s why I’m thinking of maybe switching to the paid hosting service I already use for blogs, other domains, etc.

They have a charge though for doing the migration for me. I suppose I could try to use imapsync myself, if possible.

Anyway, still waiting on a possible announcement from Google. They might still offer free legacy domains for one user. According to that Google Workspace support person I chatted with. The one who gave me completely incorrect information on merging two accounts. :slight_smile:

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Just to clear, iCloud+ is not free - I’m just already paying for it without having manage an email domain, so it’s no extra cost to me.