Ditching Gmail for Zoho and Mailbird

Setting up GitHub For Hosting

After moving Bradonomics to GitHub Pages, I realalized—later than I’d like to admit—I’d need a new solution for email. My old web host had SMTP servers, but GitHub doesn’t, so I looked around at a few providers till I noticed that Zoho had everything I needed for free.

Zoho Mail will host 10 users of 1 domain for free. If you need multiple domains, their first paid plan is cheaper than most other options I researched.

It might be worth mentioning that before all this switch-over, my setup was to forward all my mail to my Gmail account and used either Google’s SMTP servers or my web host’s servers for outbound mail. I’ve been wanting to de-couple from the Google Mothership for a while so this seemed a perfect time to try a different approach.

Setting up Zoho Mail

The first thing I did was create an account at zoho.com/mail and then head over to the mail app to add my domain. Once bradonomics.com was added in the account Zoho required me to verify that I owned the domain.

MX Records for Mail Delivery

After my domain was verified I updated my MX records in CloudFlare with my new Zoho information.

CloudFlare MX Records for Zoho

Forwarding to Gmail

In the case that you’re not ready to leave Gmail you can setup a forward in your Zoho settings. Click on Control Panel, User Details and then Mail Accounts and you’ll see Mail Forwarding.

Forwarding Zoho Mail

Sending From Gmail using Zoho SMTP Servers

The above will cover your inbound, but to send email you’ll need to setup the “send mail as” option in Gmail. You can find the Zoho SMTP settings here.

Ditching Google and Using Mailbird

Even though there might not be much reason to do so, I decided to leave Gmail since 90% of my mail was coming in via other domains anyway.

So far I’m digging Mailbird, but if you need something more powerful you might check out eM Client.

Update: 30 Oct 2014: Well, that didn’t even last a week. I’ve been using Gmail since 2004. All my mail since then is stored there. Their calender and contacts and general interface are superior to anything I’ve found yet. I’d still like to move away from Google, but at least for now, Mailbird isn’t it. If you know of any mail clients that have a great design, come with an import option and have a calendar and contacts feature, please get in touch.

Update: September 2015: Since writing this article almost a year ago, I’ve moved to Linux as my primary OS. When I made the move I looked for email clients that would work with Linux and found Geary. It’s very similar to Mailbird. You’ll need to allow “less secure apps” in your Google account if you wish to connect it. There’s also a program called RainLoop, which is a little more robust even if the setup is a little more involved.

SPF Configuration

Lastly, let’s make sure you’re emails aren’t going to SPAM by setting up Sender Policy Framework. You can find the Zoho portion of the instructions here and the CloudFlare part of the instructions here.

Here’s what mine looks like:

SPF Records with CloudFlare