The other day I almost decided to stick with Google after all. Then I came to my senses.
Doubts? I had a few
When I stepped away from Google six months ago, I was in the middle of the annual contracts on both of my G Suite accounts (personal and work). As I explained in an earlier post ("How do I replace thee?"), I had no trouble finding very good replacements for the services I was paying Google for. Posthaven has turned out to be a great blogging platform, especially for the kind of thing I do. And ProtonMail for email has been a delight. Nevertheless, last week I started to wonder if abandoning Google isn't a mistake. It's not that I began to think I was wrong about the malign aspects of Google's influence. But the G Suite accounts provide a lot of services, some of them are good (especially Documents) and they are pretty inexpensive. I already quit Google once, two years ago, and then ended up coming back after I'd deleted my old accounts. Not the way to do it. And my accounts are set to renew (and charge my credit cards) in the next month, so it's decision time.
Sunday (two days ago) I reconnected my Google work account to my email, by editing the pertinent DNS records at Hover. Hover is fabulous and makes domain management as easy as possible (unlike, say, GoDaddy). And creating MX records is easy. The problem is that there are a couple other little tasks that need to be done, including verifying domain ownership. Should be easy, but wasn't. In fact, dealing with Google's help-system hell was a bit like trying to do my income taxes. You can get a glimpse of what I'm talking about here.
Hardly a sentence without a conditional clause and/or a link to another web page. At one point I had about a dozen pages open, some of them duplicates.
I did switch email for work back to Google, and used it all day yesterday. But last night when I started to switch my personal email out of ProtonMail and back over to Google, in the middle of the process, I realized that this was nuts. The Google accounts might be cheap, but I'd lost several billable hours fooling around with Google's absurdly complex instructions. This has always been Google's weakness. Getting help is a nightmare.
Back to the future
So I undid everything and went back to ProtonMail. This meant setting up ProtonMail again, more or less from scratch. Took me about fifteen minutes to do both accounts, and there was never a moment in the process when I wasn't confident about what I was supposed to do. One of the things that was a problem at Google is the fact that, in both of my Google accounts, I needed to use multiple email addresses. Setting this up in ProtonMail was simplicity itself.
So I balked for a day, but I'm once again resolved and will be deleting my Google accounts permanently in the next week or two. I have already downloaded everything and archived it. I'm not sure what I'm doing to miss. Not much.
And the gold medal goes to ProtonMail
Of all the services provided in the G Suite, the most important to me by far is email. Email is a lot harder than you might think. Managing the servers is hard, but it's also very hard to build a great app. It's even harder when you're trying to tie email in with a full menu of other services. Dropbox tried and gave up on it. Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft keep trying but they don't do it well. Among the Giants, only Google does a decent job. That might explain why more people use Google for mail than any other service (20-25% of the users in the world!).
But of all the dedicated email services I've tried and used, ProtonMail is hands down the best. For starters, I'm pretty sure the Swiss gnomes who run ProtonMail are not reading my email. The web app too is very good, more modern than Gmail and less busy than Inbox, and the iOS app is good too. Finally, ProtonMail provides platinum standard security. Great security has benefits even for people who have nothing to hide (like me): it prevents your email from being hijacked or spoofed. ProtonMail isn't used as a gateway to other apps which also makes it a less tempting target.
You can get a free account from ProtonMail, and if you do sign up, tell 'em I sent you!