Email forwarding is a method which redirects emails sent to your domain, and sent it to your personal email account of your choice. Therefore, you can receive emails from your custom domain without exposing your personal email address.
It offers a few advantage over a traditional mailbox:
- Consolidate many emails into a single inbox.
- Create unlimited email addresses from your own domain.
- Have control over your own domain. If anything happens with your underlying inbox, you can route the email to somewhere else.
I built https://hanami.run which is a premium email forwarding service where we aim high for outstanding support, reliability and speed.
The space is very competitive where many other services offer this for free. I get this question all the time and hope to address it with this article.
1. Privacy first
Many free services ask you to put forwarding rules in TXT records. That means you lost your privacy because now anyone can know where this is forwarding to. To me, when I use an email forwarding service, I really want to hide my real or personal email address. A few free services won’t allow you to do it, if you want to hide it then you have to upgrade to their paid plan, which invalidates their advantage of free offering.
2. Easy to use
When setting forwarding rule in TXT records, it got messy quick with the DNS editor of our domain/DNS provider. They are usually ugly, slow and confused, especially if you have lots of DNS record.
We built a very intuitive and easy to use UI. You will easily understand how to configure.
3. Rollout change faster
Also, DNS always has a TTL. Even if we configure a low TTL, like 1–2 minutes, nothing guarantees that a DNS server somewhere won’t cache it a bit longer. Not the end of the world, of course, but imagine you are testing out something and have to wait for DNS propagation.
We built hanami.run which is super fast to have your configuration reflected on our email server. Right at the moment you click the “Save” button in your alias, we immediately trigger a notification for our mail server to refresh its config.
4. Better visibility into email delivery
Sometimes people get important emails which are marked as spam, or simply rejected by the mail server. This usually happens when a bad actor enters a system. No matter how hard you try, some spam will go through before your spam detection is kicked in to detect it. By that time, a few spammer emails already went through, and your IP might be reported as sending spam.
Sometimes email goes into spam, so you can still read it. But what if the email was simply rejected? For example https://community.cloudflare.com/t/2fa-auth-token-not-sending-to-email/168893/8
The only way to be aware of this problem, and know what happened to the rejected email is to use a logging system. We built maillog (you have to enable it and set a retention policy) in order to support that. If an email comes in, we forward it to Gmail, but if Gmail rejects it, you can still see it in our maillog.
5. SMTP Server
Once receiving emails from your forwarding provider, many would want to reply using that email alias, not our real email, since that’s the whole purpose of email forwarding, to hide your real mailbox while exposing a real personal domain to the world. In order to achieve that, we need an SMTP server such as Gmail SMTP. However when we do that, the DKIM cannot be signed because the email is sent out by Gmail, which isn’t your DKIM config, therefore people will see an ugly “via domain/provider” warning which makes the email seem untrustworthy. To fix that problem, we would need an SMTP server to sign our email. Therefore, we built an SMTP server for that and offer it for $6 per month with unlimited aliases, and you can send up to 300 emails per day with this plan. If you need more than that, we can still allow you to send during the burst period.
The SMTP server also allows you to send transaction email in your Rails/PHP/Node app anywhere it can set an SMTP config.
Similar service offer SMTP at a higher price.
6. A fair price
Our price tier starts at $1 per month for up to 5 domains. After that we would ask our users to upgrade to the next tier at $6 per month for up to 50 domains while other free services immediately ask you to upgrade with only 2 domains, and at an even higher price than $6 per month.
How do we calculate our price? How can we make it a fair thing for everyone in the world? How can we bring value to the table for what you paid us? How can we improve your experience with us and make you feel welcome and comfortable to reach out to us any time you have an issue?
If someone owns up to 5 domains, they usually have to pay $50–$60 for domain per year. Adding a mere $1 a month for an added value to make things easier to manage aliases is fair enough to us.
If someone owns more than 6 domains, and needs email forwarding to all of these domains, they are some heavy users and surely make a lot of use of their domains. While seems higher at $6/month, but when putting next to the amount a user pays for their domains, I think it’s very comparable with the value we provide. When having more domains, we like to have a nice and clean UI to manage all the aliases. If someone is willing to maintain more than 6 domains per year, we think they would have no problem paying $6 for a premium email forwarding service to access a nice and clean UI. No one has to deal with ugly software.
We also offer a first-class support experience. Regardless which plan you are on, we promise to respond to our query with-in 30mins during business hours and 6 hours if someone emails us at 2AM.
If you like hanami.run but cannot make payment due to any reasons, we’re are willing to work it out. Send us an email and we will see what we can do.
Even when we don’t offer a free plan, we’re honest here and do stick to our rule of privacy and user-first policy. In order to build, operate and maintain this service, we do have bills to pay. Instead of asking our users to put forwarding rules on DNS, we built a nice and simple UI for that. We also built a SMTP server to make it easier for our users to reply via their domain too.
At the end of the day, my vision for hanami.run is to build a really good email forwarding service that you only need to login once to add your credit card, configure you alias routing, add your SMTP credential ,and then never have to login to our dashboard again. Everything should just work, and you will even forget about our existence. Well, maybe only once per month when you see a charge of $1 on your bank statement from us.
Give https://hanami.run a try and reach out if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time.