Business and Family accounts released

We’re proud to release our business and family accounts feature for full general use. We’ve been testing these new features for many months on our beta server, and already have several hundred families and businesses using the new features.

As a summary, there’s basically 3 new types of accounts being released today:

  1. Family accounts
  2. Business accounts
  3. Reseller/IT support accounts

Family and business accounts are similar, the main difference is just the name and size of accounts that they each can hold.

Business accounts
  • Basic – 60M email, 2M files (eg documents)
  • Standard – 600M email, 100M files (eg documents)
  • Professional – 8G email, 500M files (eg documents)
Family accounts
  • Lite – 30M email, 6M photos (eg photo galleries)
  • Everyday – 400M email, 600M photos (eg photo galleries)
  • Superior – 4G email, 6G files (eg photo galleries)
Business and Family Features

Each family or business can have any number and mix of each corresponding account type. Each family or business can also have one or more administrators. The administrator(s) of the family/business can create/edit/delete accounts easily via the web interface and all billing is centralised.

The main advantages of having your accounts under a family/business are: 

  1. Management of multiple accounts from a single screen
  2. One or multiple administrators per family/business
  3. Sharing of email and files folders between users in a family/business
  4. Individual address books per user, and a global address book that’s shared between all users in the family/business
  5. Family/business login screen. If you use your own domain, you can point http://mail.example.com to our servers and you’ll get a small login screen that lists your family/business name

Folder sharing allows you to share folders between any accounts in a family or business with the same domain. Due to technical limitations, you can’t share between users in different businesses/families, or between users in a business/family and not in a business/family, or between users in the same business/family with different domains.

Just login to the account you want to share the folder from and go to Options -> Folders -> Sharing / Access control and enable sharing for the folder and select who you want to share it with. You can do the same on the Options -> Files -> Sharing for file storage folders

Migrating existing accounts

If you want to migrate any existing FastMail accounts to a family or business, you can just create the family/business, and import the accounts into the new family/business after you’ve created it. We’ve done this for hundreds of accounts already, and there’s no interruption to service at all. You get a pro-rata refund of any remaining subscription, so no money is lost during the import process.

If you want to migrate external accounts to a FastMail business, you can just create the business, add the domain and users at FastMail, and then use our forwarding tunnel and IMAP migrate feature (Options -> Migrate IMAP) to migrate users across one by one, and finally switch the MX records for the domain to point to us

Reseller accounts

A reseller account is just a standard business account that’s been marked as a reseller, and is then able to create sub-businesses. So the way this works is that you create a business account for yourself, and then we mark your account as a reseller account, and you can create sub-businesses and manage those sub-businesses from the one screen.

This is designed for businesses that manage the IT infrastructure of a number of other businesses and want to keep each business logically separated but be able to manage them all from one place. The advantage of this over putting all the accounts in one business are:

  • Each business gets a separate billing cycle, so when a new business comes along, you don’t have to worry about being half way through a billing cycle
  • Each business has a separate name, user list, domains list, aliases list, distribution lists, global address book, etc. This allows you to keep each business nicely separated from each other
  • Because each business has a separate name, you can direct each business to their customised “business login” screen
Documentation and questions?

The current documentation is rater limited. More documentation is coming soon.

If you have any questions, please email businessandfamily@fastmail.fm

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Improved virtual/own domain handling and activation

Up until now, FastMail has always required users to “activate” their domain before it could be used to receive email at FastMail servers. This was previously controlled on the Options -> Virtual Domains screen (for individual users) or Manage -> Domains screen (for families/businesses), where the Active column would start in a “Waiting for DNS” state and only switch to “Email & Web” once the MX records for the domain had been pointed to our servers.

This transition from “Waiting for DNS” to active for “Email & Web” is no longer required.

Now, as soon as you add a domain and appropriate aliases on the above screens, our MX servers will immediately start accepting email for the domain and aliases you entered. This means you can add your domain and aliases, and immediately change the MX records to point to our servers (see our FAQ for the appropriate settings), there is no need to wait for the domain to become active, because it’s active by default at our MX servers.

You will see that the Virtual Domains/Domains screens now have two new columns:

  • Routing
  • DNS

The DNS column can be one of two values:

  1. Ext – the MX records for the domain point to external servers. While in this state, the DNS records for the domain are checked every hour to see if they have changed
  2. Us – the MX records for the domain point to our servers. While in this state, the DNS records for the domain are only checked every day

On it’s own, this column only shows what we think the state of the DNS records for the domain are.

The Routing column can be one of two values:

  1. Auto (Int or Ext) – this is the default option. If the MX records for the domain point to our servers (eg DNS = Us), then email sent via our SMTP or Web servers is routed internally directly to the users mailbox, and the column is listed as “Auto (Int)”. If the MX records for the domain point to external servers (eg DNS = Ext), then email sent via our SMTP or Web servers is routed externally to the MX records for the domain, and the column is listed as “Auto (Ext)”
  2. Force Ext – email sent via our SMTP or Web servers is always routed externally to the MX records for the domain

So now if you want:

  • Email and web hosted at FastMail – Add the domain with default values, and any aliases you want. Change the NS servers for your domain to point to us (see FAQ)
  • Email only at FastMail – Add the domain with default values, and any aliases you want. Change the MX or NS servers for your domain to point to us (see FAQ)
  • Web only at FastMail – Add the domain with default values, setup any websites you want. Change the A or NS servers for your domain to point to us (see FAQ)
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Change in alias/distribution list target handling

Up until now, if you had an alias, virtual alias or distribution list with multiple targets, and one of those targets was a FastMail address that didn’t exist as an alias/username, then that address would be silently ignored.

For instance, say you have a domain example.com with an alias “sales@example.com” that targets “sam@example.com , joe@example.com”. And say you have an alias for “sam@example.com”, but no alias for “joe@example.com”. Previously this would have worked without any error, with email sent to sales@example.com going to only sam@example.com, and the joe@example.com target being ignored because it wasn’t a valid address.

Now however, sending an email to sales@example.com will deliver the email to sam@example.com, but will also generate a bounce message back to the sender, explaining that the email couldn’t be delivered to joe@example.com, one of the targets of the alias.

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Change in over quota handling

We’ve just rolled out a technical change in the way email to over quota accounts is handled.

Previously, if an account was over quota, we could only detect this after accepting the email at SMTP stage. This meant that we would accept the email, try and deliver it, discover the account was over quota, and then have to bounce the email by generating a non-delivery notification.

Unfortunately in almost all cases spam messages forge the MAIL FROM address on emails. This meant that if a spam message was delivered to an over quota account, the non-delivery notification (bounce) email would then be sent to an incorrect third party. This problem is known as backscatter and is annoying for other email users on the Internet when they receive bounce notifications to emails they never sent. At least this only occurs for over quota accounts. Some systems accept ALL email, and then bounce any email for non-existent recipients. With the large amount of forge spam, these systems can generate millions of backscatter emails. FastMail correctly detects if a recipient is valid at SMTP time, and rejects the email for invalid recipients at the SMTP recipients which does not generate backscatter.

To try and reduce the small amount of “over quota” backscatter that we do generate, we now try and detect if the account is over quota at the SMTP stage before receiving the email. If the account is over quota, then we defer the email with a “451 User is over quota, try again later” response, which will cause the other side to keep the email for some time and retry sending later. This should further reduce the small amount of backscatter we generate.

There is unfortunately still one case where we can’t respond at the SMTP stage. If the SMTP recipient is an alias with multiple targets, then it might be that one target is over quota, and the other is not. In those cases, we have to accept the email, deliver to the under quota target, and generate a non-delivery notification for the over quota target. This case should be very rare however.

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