In Breaking Free of Outlook, Bernard Lunn explained how he recently switched from Outlook / Exchange to Google GMail… His article inspired me and I decided to switch to GMail for my personal mail.
Why switching? I only have POP access to my current mail server and a personal computer running Outlook. However, on daily basis, I use several devices for online access ; and the webmail from my hoster is quite old-fashioned. Furthermore, I rarely backup my Outlook file (very bad habit, I know)…
Why GMail and not Yahoo! Mail? Well, I have a Yahoo! Mail account (that’s the mail I use to register on new services and receive all those fascinating newsletters :) )… but GMail has some appealing features that Yahoo! Mail unfortunately lacks:
The migration went quite smooth thanks to the Simplified Guide to Importing All Your Archive Email Into Gmail by Zoli Erdos. And after a few hours of migration, all my personal mails (10 years of emails ; the oldest one was written in 1998) were injected into GMail.
Sure, the various advanced features from GMail are really amazing, but there are some hiccups. The main one is the various issues with Google’s account management – it’s very hard to link an existing Google account with a brand new Google Apps account; again, Zoli Erdos has written a really helpul post entitled Google Apps and Account Chaos Fixed (More or Less), but the situation is still far from ideal.
Also the user interface of GMail is slighty different from Google Reader, the Google tool I’m using the most (top bar / no “river of mails” in GMail…); looks a bit cluttered at a first glance (I want a mail client so I don’t care about the news feed at the top or about the proeminent Google Talk integration on the left).
I will see in the next weeks if I’m happy with the switch; but that’s really a change in the way I’m using online services. So far, I wanted to have all my data on my own computers (mail stored on my computer, photos stored on my web server…). But the fear regarding security and data protection are going away with the increased reliability and practicity of online services. Even if I know that GMail or Google Reader can sometimes be unavailable, I’m ready for that as long as it’s not frequent / it’s not too long.