GMail is the first service of Google’s that I used outside of Google Search. I’ve had an account on there since 2004 when it first opened up as an invitation-only service. GMail offers a lot of great features that just can’t be had on any other free service (and one that can’t be beat by pay-for services – spam filtering) but those features come at a price. I’ve never felt comfortable with the way Google scans emails to serve up “relevant” ads and I haven’t been too happy with the stories I’ve read about people losing access to their email with no questions asked. It hasn’t happened often but once is too many times. Again the cost of using that service is too high so I’ve moved on.
Because I’ve been using the service for so long, and because it’s tied to two other Google services I use (one of which is paid for and therefore not ad-supported – Google App Engine, and the other Google Talk which I use for work for instant messaging) and one non-Google service I use (Flickr…which allows someone to use a Google account to log in) I am not getting rid of my main Google account which I opened with GMail. That being said I no longer rely on GMail for mail…I’m using Apple’s iCloud mail offering.
Given the fact that I’m not getting rid of my Google account altogether the only things I needed to do to move off of GMail were set up an email forwarding rule to my iCloud mail account and after making sure my mail client on my Mac had a copy of everything via IMAP to delete the email off of GMail. Before doing that delete I turned off IMAP access.
The iCloud mail web interface isn’t as full-featured as GMail nor is the spam filtering as good but its good enough. I also gain fantastic mail sync between my Mac and iOS devices which I didn’t have with GMail. I’m glad the switch was easy and I don’t really miss GMail at all. I definitely don’t miss the ads 🙂