Are you trying to decide which email service provider to use? We break down the differences between Fastmail and Gmail to help you make your choice.


It’s not up for debate: we need email. We depend on it to maintain communication in both our professional and personal lives. But are we willing to give up privacy for email? And what are the differences between providers?

Gmail provides a useful service, but even though it’s free, it comes with a price. So how do they make money?

Google is one of the world’s largest data providers for advertisers. While they don’t sell your personal data directly, they allow advertisers to bid on your information. Those ads show up in your Gmail inbox. If you click through to advertisers’ sites, they can mine your personal data.

In addition, even though Google offers free email, you need to pay for business-level functionality. This is one area that illuminates the differences between Fastmail and Gmail. Google Workspace plans begin at $6 per month and allow you to use only one domain; Fastmail’s standard plan costs $5 per month and provides the option to use up to 100 different domains. And even with their paid plans, Google allows advertisers access to your data.

Fastmail is an alternative to Gmail that offers all the features that we’ve come to expect from an email provider. But these features are all built to protect your private data. Your data is yours—your data is not shared, no outside entity can access your personal data and there are no ads.

Let’s explore the similarities and differences between Fastmail and Gmail.

Privacy

Privacy is the main difference between Fastmail and Gmail. Think of all the personal information Google acquires. Browsing history, shopping preferences, and calendar data are available for Google to access. While Google doesn’t actually sell your data, it does allow advertisers to bid on it, which is a questionable distinction.

The truth is, Google is a public company that makes money through advertising, and those advertisers pay to bid on your personal data.

In addition, it’s no secret that Google reads your email content, so they can offer “features” such as unsettling predictive typing that feels like what it is: an invasion of privacy.

Unlike Gmail, Fastmail was designed to serve our customers, not advertisers. Our platform was built from the ground up to keep users free from threats like tracking, data leaks, and spam. Instead of selling your data to advertisers for profits, we get our profits from a subscription model. The result is that users like you get complete ownership and control of their data.

Custom Addresses & Aliases

To prevent corporations from getting your email address and accompanying data, Fastmail created Masked Email, a feature built with 1Password. Most people use their email addresses to log in to social media platforms and other sites that store sensitive data. However, using one email address to log in to multiple accounts is a major security issue.

If someone breaks into your Google Account, they’ll have access to not only that account’s data, but the login information for any linked websites. This includes sites that hold sensitive payment information, such as Amazon.

With Masked Email, users can create hundreds of “email aliases,” which are alternative email addresses you can use to keep your real email private. Now, instead of inputting your personal email into a suspicious website, you can keep your account information safe by using an email alias. So, even if your email alias is part of a data breach, it can’t be used to break into your actual email account because it’s not a part of your login.

Gmail offers no such protection. Your email and password are used across multiple sites, which provides a number of potential vulnerabilities for your personal data.

Ease of Use

Fastmail is easy to use. For example, Fastmail’s threaded conversations make reading and understanding multi-message emails easy. Pertinent information is easily displayed for quick responses and next actions are simplified to the most useful functions.

Fastmail also offers both labels and a folder system packed with options like color customization and subfolders. You choose whether you want traditional folders or elegant labels and you can seamlessly switch between them. With color customization and nesting, Fastmail lets you choose the organizational style that works for you.

Although Gmail has customization features, they aren’t as easy to use “out of the box.” Email chains collapse, which makes it difficult to find and open the email you’re looking for. And while the email process is easy to figure out, Google’s creepy predictive typing is offputting and often inaccurate.

Calendar

Fastmail has three primary functions—contacts, email, and an integrated calendar with all the features you’d want. Users can see events on a daily, weekly, or 30-day view, each with fully-interactive elements displayed within a robust yet simple interface.

The search feature makes it simple to find events within seconds. Email text turns into a detailed event with the click of a few buttons. Fastmail’s calendar integrates with anything using the CalDAV standard. In addition, the mobile app integrates all these features with contacts and email, making it a multi-faceted productivity tool.

Gmail uses Google Calendar which lives in a sidebar inside of the web app, but functions as a separate entity altogether. Google’s standalone calendar product also has a fair amount of features and integrates with plenty of apps including task managers and email clients.

Pricing, Storage, & Features

Fastmail’s plans are priced per user and according to the number of features needed. The Basic plan is $3 per month, the Standard plan is $5 per month, and the Professional plan is $9 per month. If you pay by the year, you get two months free. In addition, you can mix and match plan types if you have multiple users.

Each tier also comes with storage, starting at 2GB per user on the basic plan, 30 GB per user on the Standard plan, and 100 GB per user on the Professional plan. The Standard and Professional plans also offer premium features, like the ability to use your own domain for your email address and schedule messages to send at the time most convenient to you.

Fastmail’s Standard plan allows you to use up to 20 different domains.

Gmail’s free plan comes with 15 GB of storage. There are four options, though, for upgrading to a business package.

Their Business Starter plan is $6 per user per month and includes 30 GB of cloud storage with standard support and security controls. Business Standard is $12 per user per month and includes 2 TB of cloud storage. Business Plus is $18 per user per month with 5 TB of cloud storage. The Enterprise plan has enhanced support, and as much storage as you want, but you’ll need to contact Google for customized Enterprise pricing. There is no option to create a plan with users on different tiers.

The Gmail Business Starter plan limits users to 1 domain.

Security

Two-step verification is available on all Fastmail accounts. Any email client, program, or app integration needs to use an app-specific password to access your account, as opposed to Gmail in which multiple apps use the same login information. Fastmail allows users to monitor and manage all access to their account including logging out of any suspicious session. Additionally, Fastmail has systems in place to combat spam and phishing attacks.

Gmail’s security features include phishing protection, and they claim to block more than 99.9% of spam. Safe Browsing helps users avoid dangerous websites by placing warnings before potentially dangerous links. Proactive download alerts warn you before downloading corrupted files.

Ads

This is one of the major differences that sets Fastmail apart.

Google is one of the most voracious data collectors in the world. They already have so much of your information from Google maps, search, or websites using Google Analytics or Google fonts, that when they tie it together with your email they have a detailed picture about you and how to manipulate you.

Via Gmail Google allows ad buyers to bid on your personal data, serving embedded ads designed to get you to click off their email server onto their advertisers’ platforms, which can then collect your data. This is how Gmail makes money from its free service.

Fastmail’s subscription model allows us to cover our costs without ads. We don’t need advertisers, so we don’t need to put distracting, annoying, and manipulative ads on our service. When you purchase an account with Fastmail, you reserve the right to protect your sensitive personal data.

Customer Support

When you’re having a problem with your email, you need a quick, clear, and helpful response that gets you up and running quickly.

Fastmail uses an online ticket form to provide customer support, affording us the opportunity and time to take care of each of our customer’s concerns. A member of our support team will respond to your issue, providing an answer specific to your situation. We take tremendous pride in our customer support staff and strive to resolve every one of our support requests as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Google, on the other hand, leaves you to find the answer to your problem yourself by searching through their help library and finding the most popular answer, which may or may not answer your question. This is one glaring example of getting what you paid for. Sometimes the best way of getting help with a Google product like Gmail is to search and get the information from a third party. Since the sites aren’t managed by Gmail they may or may not have the right information, and the information they provide may be out of date.

Conclusion: Fastmail vs. Gmail

Fastmail provides a robust email service that offers many useful features but, most importantly, protects your personal data. Additionally, Fastmail doesn’t serve you ads, so you won’t end up on a third-party site that collects and monetizes your information. Fastmail has built privacy and expert customer support into our service from the ground up.

Gmail also provides many features, but some of them are available in separate Google apps which provides a larger footprint and more ways for your data to be compromised. In addition, Google makes money from advertisers, so you’ll never have a Gmail inbox free of ads. This can easily compromise your data and make you the target of invasive personalized advertising.

One major difference between Fastmail and Gmail is the number of features you get for the price. For example, Fastmail’s Standard plan, which costs $5/month, allows you to use up to 20 different domains. The Gmail Business Starter plan costs $6/month and only allows for 1 domain. There are a number of other additional features Fastmail’s plan provides, detailed here.

We make it easy to migrate from Gmail to Fastmail. When you’re ready to make the switch, the Fastmail migration tool makes the process quick and seamless. You can refer to our handy migration guide or follow the steps in this short video:

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Want more information? Visit our side-by-side comparison chart to learn more about why Fastmail is a great alternative to Gmail.