This holiday weekend, I finally accomplished a task I’ve been meaning to do for a while: I got rid of my email.
More precisely, I’m no longer hosting my email domains on my own server here in the house like I have been for the past eight years. I’ve finally made the switch to hosted email. With all of the free email domains out there, this may have been an easy choice, but Steph and I are not your run-of-the-mill email consumers. We’ve gotten used to having the calendar and scheduling features of Exchange and Outlook here at the house, so it was pretty clear I needed a hosted Exchange solution.
Last night, I flipped the switch — I double-checked that all of our domains and email addresses were configured and then changed our MX records to point at the new service. (An MX record (Mail eXchanger) is an entry in DNS that tells the rest of the Internet who to send your email to. Almost all email systems use at least one of these records.). As a result, some time early this morning all mail to us started going to our mailboxes on the new provider. Over the next couple of days, we’ll be transferring our existing messages up to the new mailboxes and shutting down my trusty Exchange 2007 server here at the house.
Actually, I’ll be recycling the hardware — it’s one of my beefier servers, and I can use it to do some other tasks around here and upgrade some of my low-end machines. This helps me consolidate servers, shut down more boxes, get rid of more clutter, and lower my bills. It also means that we no longer need to have our current DSL line and static IP address; we can explore newer, faster options that will better fit a household with multiple Xbox consoles. It also helps de-clutter my time; running a healthy email server takes time that I wasn’t putting into it here. (I shamefully confess that I went to run backups on my email a couple of weeks ago and discovered, rather to my horror, that it had been over a year since I’d last done so!) Now I don’t have to worry about those tasks. I also don’t have to worry about spam; the hosted service includes a really decent anti-spam service (the same one we use at work).
Still, after a decade of being responsible for managing my own email services (eight years running thecabal.org here at home, plus another couple of years being a sysadmin at an ISP), it feels rather strange to no longer be able to put my hands on the physical box hosting my email.