Separation Anxiety

I'm about to get out of the friendly business of running my own email and DNS servers, while retaining my own Web servers. This marks the end of 10 years of running my own stuff, starting back in 1994 when I co-founded Point of Presence Company (POPCO). I sold the company, but my friend Scotty let me continue to run email and DNS and other stuff from his servers. I eventually set up my own servers when I moved to an office with other freelancers in 1999.

Over the years, I've wrestled with the pain of servers dying: hard drive failure, hacker attack, power supply failure, DSL modem crashes, misconfigurations, and many others.

In the same period, I've finally found outside companies that I trust: digital forest hosts my three computers (soon to be two: anyone in the market for a Xserve dual G4 1.33 GHz server?); easyDNS handles my registrar and DNS services for most of my domains; and Fastmail.fm has been my on-the-road mail service for checking accounts securely.

I've helped all of my various friends and colleagues migrate their domains, email accounts, Web sites, and blogs to other services--only a couple of sites remain, and my wife and dad's email accounts. And my own. I'll be shortly handling a final migration--gulp!--so that my email will be totally received by Fastmail.fm (which has POP, IMAP, and SMTP over SSL, an awesome option for security), and my DNS will be entirely hosted by easyDNS.

It's scary. I trust these companies for a few reasons. One, I've had accounts with them now for some time with no problems. Two, when they've had unexpected performance issues--such as a denial of service attack on easyDNS--they've been honest and communicated immediately, while detailing steps they have taken to prevent recurrence.

I've also spoken or emailed with the co-founders of both companies. easyDNS's founder read some feedback email I sent about an ongoing typo in a DNS file that I couldn't seem to get support to fix on a Friday late afternoon, and he had it fixed immediately. I interviewed Fastmail.fm's co-founder, too, for an two-part series in the Seattle Times (running last Monday and this Monday), and I was even more impressed with the service after getting more details about their policies and operations from the horse's mouth.

I'll still be running my own Web servers because I rely too much on their performance and abilities to outsource that for the moment. (If I could buy access to a high-performance MySQL server at the right price, I might do that, too.)

Scary stuff, putting yourself in the hands of others.

Later: I did the deed, pointing my MX records to fastmail.fm. A few configuration errors later on my remaining mail server and its accounts, and I'm off. Next, transfering the rest of my DNS to easyDNS...