I’m still quite happy that I moved to using google domains and its email forwarding feature. I believe my move is simpler to maintain in the long term, as long as google continues to allow email forwarding as part of their domains service.
I think it was in 2007 that I moved my email from a private server running smtp to Google Suite. I was got in with the free version at the time and have been able to keep using it without paying anything.
Google recently announced that they would be discontinuing the free plan for G Suite, and I had to decide whether to pay for an upgraded version or migrate to something else. I only have two users configured in my account for G Suite. Each G Suite account included 15GB of storage.
Several years ago when I was close to the 15GB limit. I decided to migrate to using my gmail.com account as my primary login and add storage to it instead of adding storage to my wimsworld.com account. I used an open source program called GMailBackup http://www.gmail-backup.com/download to backup all of my email including the labels from my G Suite account and import it to my GMail.com account. I then configured my wimsworld.com account to forward all the mail directly to my gmail.com account. That mostly worked well, though for some reason the G Suite account spam filter ran before forwarding mail to GMail.com. That meant I needed to periodically login to the G Suite account to check and make sure nothing important got stuffed in its spam folder.
Google initially declared that the free G Suite would be expiring in May, and have since extended the deadline to June, but I needed to get it dealt with before it became too time sensitive.
After looking at several alternatives, I came across the recent exit from beta for Google Domains. One of the features that Google Domains offers is email forwarding for the domain, which allowed me to forward the wimsworld.com email address to my gmail.com address directly. Since my gmail.com address was already configured to be able to send mail as my wimsworld.com address via the google smtp servers, the switch was almost transparent, and now all the spam catching is done in a single account.
I’d been hosting my DNS records for wimsworld.com on GoDaddy.com along with having periodic renewals of the domain name through them. Every year I’d go through the hassle of looking for discount codes and making sure I wasn’t upsold on more services that GoDaddy sells. Moving my domain to Google I was able to find an introductory code to reduce the price slightly while extending my domain by another year. The process cost me a total of $12 plus tax.
I’d downloaded my DNS records from GoDaddy before starting anything, to make sure I didn’t lose any data. Then I went to https://domains.google.com/ and initiated the transfer of the domain to google. I had browser windows open to both sites at the same time so I could accelerate the domain transfer by confirming what I was doing on both sites. The transfer moved the DNS records to google’s DNS servers and modified the SOA records, while keeping a few of my custom DNS records, including the MX records I had to deliver email to the G Suite mail servers.
Domains let me set up email forwarding, even though it won’t be active because of the existing MX records which knew that it was configured for G Suite. There was this big orange button to disable Google Workspace and enable forwarding. I was worried that it would actually disable to G Suite, so made sure I was logged in to the G Suite console and everything was prepared for cancellation before I hit the button. When I finally hit the button, it only modified the DNS records so to use the google domains email forwarding system and didn’t touch my G Suite status.
After configuring everything in domains, and seeing that it all appeared to work correctly with my gmail.com login, I still waited one more day before I cancelled my G Suite subscription.
The google domains email forwarding allows you to configure forwarding of specific email addresses to different accounts, and allows a significant number of rules to be set up. It also allows using wildcard forwarding to forward mail. On my wimsworld.com address, I’m using wildcard forwarding for all of the possible accounts to my gmail account. I’ve got other personal domains set up that needed email forwarding to multiple people, and have been able to set specific addresses be forwarded to specific recipients, and a wildcard to forward any other mail to me. I like the wildcard as a catch all for mail that I may have forgotten I was using.
Google Domains has a few other features that are interesting that may get a separate write up if I have time. Dynamic DNS Hosts and DNSSec are available without extra costs. I’m already using two different free dynamic DNS services but may investigate this as I believe it would work directly with my domain name instead of using a CNAME forwarding scheme.