Exciting news: FastMail staff purchase the business from Opera

In 2010, FastMail was bought by Opera Software. The developers and staff of FastMail have now bought back the company. This means that FastMail is once again an independent company, dedicated to building the best possible email experience for our users. We have big plans for the future, and we will continue to roll out new features and enhancements over the coming months.

There are no configuration changes or any other changes you need to make. All existing accounts will continue to run as they do now with the same billing cycle, pricing, features, reliability, security, etc.

In case you have any questions, we’ve tried to address the main issues below.

  • Why has Opera sold you? Are you in trouble?

    Not at all. Opera has undergone an internal change of strategic direction and an email service no longer fits within their long term vision. With Opera’s investment in development and infrastructure over the last 3 years, FastMail has continued to increase its rate of growth and profitability. We came to the mutual conclusion that FastMail’s future would be better served as a separate company.

  • How will this affect future development work?

    FastMail is keeping all existing FastMail related staff. We believe we have all the resources and talent needed to keep developing and growing FastMail now and going forward into the future.

  • What sort of things do you have planned?

    A hugely improved mobile interface, CardDAV support to allow synchronisation of contacts between devices, a calendaring service including CalDAV support for synchronisation of events between devices, improved backend and searching performance. All these things are currently in active development and slated for release within the next year.

  • This all sounds great. Is there any way I can help?

    The best way to help us is continue to use FastMail. It’s the support we get from our users that allows us to keep running and developing the service.

    Tell your friends that there’s a real alternative to the big corporations. One that doesn’t show ads, respects your privacy, and is fully committed to keeping the service going forward.

    Tweet about us. Post about us on your blog. Make you and your boss happy by switching your work email to FastMail :)

  • How does this affect the privacy of my email and other data?

    We have always taken our users’ privacy very seriously and this will not change. We’re working on publishing an updated privacy policy next week that will explain in clear wording exactly how your data is treated. We’ll post to the blog with more information soon.

Thanks for using FastMail. We’ve put a lot of thought and effort into building the fastest, easiest and most powerful way to access your email. We look forward to providing you with the best service we can.
 
The FastMail Team

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iOS 7 Mail App uses multi-folder body searches by default

This is a technical post. Regular FastMail users subscribed to receive email updates from the FastMail blog can just ignore this post.

We’ve recently been testing out the Mail application in iOS 7 and found that there’s been a couple of significant changes, especially when you search your email. If you run an IMAP server with users that connect using the iOS Mail application, you might be interested in what we found. The two main ones are:

  1. Rather than searching the current folder, by default, it searches all folders. To do that, it opens many IMAP connections at once for searching each folder concurrently. We’re not sure on the upper bound on the number of connections it will make, but saw at least 10 in one case.
  2. Rather than searching the Subject/To/Cc/From fields, by default, it searches all those fields as well as the message body.

Both of these changes are actually great for the user experience, but they create potentially large headaches for IMAP server maintainers.

Clients making multiple IMAP connections at once isn’t new, but the number of potential IMAP connections an iOS client might now make is large. Some administrators limit the total number of IMAP connections a user can make at once. They might have to raise this or iOS might start returning unexpected results.

The bigger concern is the body searching. The search string iOS now sends is:

tag UID SEARCH RETURN (ALL) (OR FROM "Foo" (OR SUBJECT "Foo" (OR TO "Foo" (OR CC "Foo" BODY "Foo")))) NOT DELETED

IMAP search semantics suggest that a body search is supposed to be a pure sub-string search (BODY <string>: Messages that contain the specified string in the body of the message). Depending on your IMAP server, your message bodies may or may not be indexed in a way that allows sub-string searching. If they’re not, then a BODY search is potentially very expensive, requiring every message to be opened and searched individually. Doing that simultaneously across many folders might generate a sudden and significant IO load on a server.

Our plan at FastMail is to detect iOS clients, and convert all searches into FUZZY searches. This causes matches to be done on “terms” rather than pure sub-strings, but allows us to use our xapian powered index which should make matching and fetching results much, much quicker.

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