GMail's logo.
I had previously made a private oath to myself, that I would only move to GMail once they had implemented mbox importing, which would allow me to move all of my old messages to GMail. As the title makes clear, I have broken that oath.

I actually wish I had switched earlier. While I had previously noted the positively wonderful user interface, my appreciation of it has increased with daily usage. And while I do not often check my email on other computers (because of security\privacy considerations), it is good to know that I could.

If this was a proper review of GMail, I would be required to have at least one screenshot of my inbox or something. However, this is not a proper review, and inbox screenshots are not interesting. Also, when switching, the layout did not bother me as much as the fact I could not import my old messages.

A screenshot of the GMail Help Center.
I like the fact that importing messages is now one of the features on the GMail suggestion page because I hope that means that the development team might be working on it. I have a couple hundred megabytes of messages stretching back to some of the first emails I sent back in 2002 (archived from my old Hotmail account from back when I used Outlook Express). It would be nice to have them all together in one place, without having to worry about whether it is backed up, with near-instantaneous searching, and the ability to access them from any computer.[1]

Of course, there are several things wrong with GMail. Here are some of them, as compiled by a close friend:[2]

One good thing about GMail is the ability to jump ship. If I ever decide that I do not like having my mail stored in GMail and want to switch to another provider or a homebrew solution, I can just download all of my messages and never look back.

[1] Theoretically, I would enjoy most of these benefits if I kept all of my mail on Dreamhost would automatically back it up, Thunderbird's searching is slower than GMail but still reasonably fast, and I could either SSH in and use mutt or install some type of webmail package.

I was about to try this, but two things happened.

  1. I realized that GMail's user interface was nicer. Especially labels, which bring the joys of taxonomy to email.

  2. I realized that it was going to be impossible to keep all of my email on without categorizing it into dozens of folders. A Dreamhost tech support representative suggested that I keep individual email folder under 1000 messages, in order to avoid performance hits. This was after I had moved more than 7000 messages into one folder.

[2] Yes, that's right. You too can affect what I post about by spending large amounts of time talking to me online.

[3] One would assume that the "delete" key would work. It does not.