Going forward, Google will no longer be offering a free G Suite version (now known as ‘Google Workspace’). Just as I am, you may have been using this free service of Google for many years and now see the need to find alternatives – being it totally free or rather paid. In this blogpost, I explore some of your options to switch to another e-mail provider, including pros and cons, pricing and attention points.

Continue to use Google Workspace

One of the most frictionless options is to simply continue to use Google. But, you will have to pay of course. In fact, if you don’t take action before 1st of May 2022, you will be automatically be upgraded to the paid plan that fits your needs (as estimated by Google based on your usage).

Pros for Google WorkspaceCons of Google Workspace
Easiest option
If you upgrade, your first year will be 50% off
Any (digital) purchases linked to your account will be kept
Relatively cheap if you have a low number of users
Storage upgrade: 15GB will become 30GB (or more, if you pay for a higher tier)
Flexible pricing: chose between Business Starter, Standard or Plus to extend storage options (up to 5TB cloud storage per user)
Great integration of Google services/functionalities on Android, and very good apps on iOS
Relatively expensive if you have a lot of accounts
Google services are known to track user’s behavior

Microsoft 365

Also known as ‘Office 365’ is the offering by Microsoft when it comes to having a custom domain. The Microsoft 365 suite is focused on collaboration, because it offers a number of collaboration and productivity tools as part of its bundle: including Microsoft Teams, OneDrive as well as valid licenses for Microsoft Office.

As a paid user of Microsoft 365, there are no advertisements: this is different when you would choose a free @outlook.com e-mail address for example.

Personally, when I think about Microsoft, I think about the corporate world in the first place. But Microsoft has certainly not forgotten about personal users and families. In many people’s cases – and maybe including your use case – you are now using G Suite for your own family. Microsoft has a ‘Microsoft 365 Family’ subscription which is targeted as families for up to 6 people and it is competitively priced when you calculate the price compared to an individual subscription for just one person.

Positive points for Microsoft 365Attention points for Microsoft 365
Microsoft is a known technology company with a good reputation when concerning quality of service (uptime)
As long as you pay for their services, you get a complimentary Office license on your devices
Relatively cheap
High storage space offered compared to competitors
Interesting offer for families
Excellent integration with Windows, and mature apps on both iOS and Android
No catch-all functionality for e-mails
Relatively expensive for single users

Zoho Workplace

Zoho Workplace, or Zoho Office Suite, or simply ‘Zoho’ is a little bit less known. Maybe because of its odd name, or maybe because it is not an American but rather an Indian company.

Zoho is a bit more focused on small or medium-sized companies rather than families I would say. They offer as part of their web-based office suite some tools like project management tools, a customer relationship management application and Zoho Sites to create websites.

So even though Zoho’s offering is not primarily focused on families or individuals, it still could be a viable option when you migrate from G Suite / Workspace. Zoho offers a totally free plan, although you have to accept the (artificial) limitations such as maximum 10 users and no IMAP/POP support for your e-mail accoung(s).

The goodThe bad
Possibility to use Zoho for free
Additional (web) apps are offered, such as for CRM and project management
Relatively cheap when you opt for a paid subscription
Choose between US or EU server
Administrator dashboard is outdated
No IMAP/POP for free users

Apple iCloud+

When you subscribe to iCloud+, an Apple subscription, you can use up to five custom domains to send and receive email with iCloud Mail. This could be a very good option for users of Apple devices, because having an iCloud+ subscription will increase your storage space to store your Apple Photos, iCloud iPhone or iPad backup, iCloud Drive, … If you own one or more Apple devices already today, changes are you are already hitting the free 5GB limit that Apple offers.

Some limitations exist though: “You can use iCloud Mail to send and receive email with up to five personal domains, with up to three email addresses per domain.” Yet, in many cases I expect this is not a real issue, because every user in your family will be able to create up to 3 e-mail addresses per domain.

YayNay
Apple has a good track record when it concerns user’s privacy
Great integration into the Apple ecosystem
Multiple domains can be added
Intuitive user experience overall
Share the domain with up to 5 family members
The limitation of max 5 users may be a deal breaker

(Shared) hosting server

As a last option, you may look at renting a server – this could be a shared server environment or dedicated server. This option is very hard to compare to the other options listed above, because it is different kind of set-up. The hosting server can be any hosting provider of your choice, and you are flexible to create e-mail addresses, as long as you properly configure the MX records.

The different hosting providers have different prices, so I can’t comment on this. If you have only 1 accounts in scope of your G Suite migration, and that mailbox is very small (let’s say: less than 1GB), you may find a very cheap hosting partner.

When looking for a hosting server, ensure the hosting provider has a decent control panel so that you can effortlessly manage the e-mail addresses – this is especially important when you manage a high number of e-mail accounts, or want to frequently create new e-mail aliases.

Other factors to take into account when you want to opt for this Workspace alternative: does the hosting provider has a firewall? Are the IP addresses blacklisted (because if they are, you mail may end up in the spam folder of your recipient)? Doe the hosting provider have a good reputation when it comes to customer support? What is the uptime and overall quality (e.g. speediness) of the services?

WinFail
A wide variety of hosting providers to choose fromTypically it is very easy to manage accounts, users, aliases, …Typically, there is no limit on the number of e-mail accounts (or, the limit is very high it doesn’t pose a limitation, e.g. 500)Cost-effective choice is possibleSome hosting providers may have blacklisted server/IP’s, impacting the delivery of your e-mailSometimes there are limitations on number of sent (outgoing) e-mail per day

Overview of G Suite Alternatives

 Google WorkspaceMicrosoft 365Zoho WorkspaceApple iCloud+Hosting provider
Linkhttps://workspace.google.com/https://www.office.com/International: https://www.zoho.com/workplace/ EU: https://workplace.zoho.eu/https://www.apple.com/icloud/N/A
Price124,80 EUR/year/user99 EUR/year37 EUR/month/user120 EUR/yearDepends
Max number of usersUnlimited6105Depends
Max storage2TB/user6TB total5TB2TB totalDepends
2-step verificationYesYesYesYesDepends

What about you? Are you also facing the transition from a free legacy G Suite account and you are looking for alternatives? Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments!

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