Moving Off Google

Not long ago, a well-known games developer posted the following horror story:

Twitter screenshot from Andrew Spinks:

"@Google my account has now been disabled for over 3 weeks. I still have no idea why, and after using every resource I have to get this resolved you have done nothing but given me the runaround.

My phone has lost access to thousands of dollars of apps on @GooglePlay. I had just bought LOTR 4K and can't finish it. My @googledrive data is completely gone. I can't access my @YouTube channel. The worst of all is losing access to my @gmail address of over 15 years.

I absolutely have not done anything to violate your terms of service, so I can take this no other way than you deciding to burn this bridge. Consider it burned. #Terraria for @GoogleStadia is canceled. My company will no longer support any of your platforms moving forward.

I will not be involved with a corporation that values their customers and partners so little. Doing business with you is a liability."

I have used and been burned by a number of Google services over the years but certainly didn't think that attitude would extend to GMail. Yet it apparently has, and even to high profile users, which I am not.

I'm also a bit concerned with the security and privacy implications of their business model, and I decided that it would be the right time to move my email hosting for this domain from Google to my own server, or at least one I control. It turned out to be much easier than I expected. So much so that I recommend it to nearly anyone with a bit of command line experience. I had heard good things about MailInABox and was going to use it, but discovered it didn't support Ubuntu 20 which I had upgraded my VM to and didn't allow configuration tweaks afterwards, which maybe I'll want to do. So instead I used iRedMail, and it was very simple to set up all the configs, which is very impressive given that it does not then prevent modifications like the alternative.

Step 0: Get a domain if you don't already have one. Ensure you know how to add DNS records.

Step 1: Get a VPS. You can find an endless number of providers. Just be sure to select one that gives you root access to a common-ish Linux VM.

Step 3: Run the following as root on your VM. Substitute out your own domain name (which for me was, mail server hostname (mx) and IP address of your mail server (

#configure your hostname ( on the box) and set its A record in DNS too!
hostnamectl set-hostname
echo mx > /etc/hostname
sed -i 's/' /etc/hosts
curl | tar -xvz # download iRedMail
cd iRedMail-1.3.2/
bash # follow the prompts
reboot # ensure all the servers running

# Now make SSL work by getting lets encrypt domains and configuring monthly auto-renewal
apt install certbot -y
certbot certonly --webroot -w /var/www/html -d
cd /etc/ssl/certs/
mv iRedMail.crt iRedMail.crt.bak
ln -s /etc/letsencrypt/live/ iRedMail.crt
cd ../private/
mv iRedMail.key iRedMail.key.bak
ln -s /etc/letsencrypt/keys/0000_key-certbot.pem iRedMail.key
echo "4 8 17 * * root certbot renew -n > /root/certbotrun.txt 2>&1" >> /etc/crontab

And just to be clear, here were the DNS records added:

Name:   mx
Type:   A
Name:   @
Type:   MX
Name:   @
Type:   TXT
Address:v=spf1 mx ip4: ~all
Name:   dkim._domainkey
Type:   TXT
Address:v=DKIM1; p=MIIBIjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAAOCAQ8AMIIBCgKCAQEAm5MxaFFjo75ZV93SR8pCrgFhJfEvhY+q3WXrKlhtSFF/eirx1fen327ZlnSlK5mDfRr9QVCFdoqW7jr63Cqc+PdjqIjCm566FKEl2GT4U5uKnvCWZRE9z4Ed7JXlwpIwU8hugN6jnZ4n+mYL7HElNls2OlnEVtPkFHyr6DMoQ9HhfwAkQ4H4DFRdtXAOLIrOVWj2mWREAeGerMCaUZZSNk+yZWPsEh1vMj9CWKaQazSdhYufq+WBsD66GBwzEwoY+ReQMI2+AFEZ2vlxo/dm3O7oqsOHhvkArVDbcfZltt+MiKY83ACC3/gTmjdotoKm6mDT7dfK2U97Ec7w+rMZBwIDAQAB

And that's it. Putting this blog post together took longer.

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