Sunday, May 15, 2022

How to leave Google Apps / G Suite / Google Workspace

UPDATE: As of early May 2022 Google has relented and will allow continued personal use of legacy G Suite domains. You need to login to your domain and then use this URL. (The option is described, a bit obscurely, in a support page).

It's hard to remember now, but there was a time that geeks had some affection for both Google and Apple (but, TBH, never Microsoft). Those were the glory days my friend.

This year's bitter resentment is brought to you by Google ending free Google Apps services. Back in the glory days Dreamhost bundled these with domains, I picked up 7-9 of them. Two of these Google App domains have been heavily used by my family. They are the core of a wide range of daily things we do, including email addresses association with numerous logins, credentials, passwords, and so on. (But not with Google OAUTH identity services, that is not supported for Google Apps email addresses.)

A few months ago, in early 2022, Google told us that these services, once as permanent as gmail (*cough*, they're coming for you), would become quite expensive. For us the costs to maintain our current setup would be hundreds to thousands of dollars a year. Shortly after this announcement we were told that there *might* be a reprieve, that non-business services would continue. This false-hope was never officially withdrawn, but in May 2022 it has been replaced by a bizarre offer to maybe continue but, like, without email or domain?

Google's very limited online guidance does not review how to exit Google Suite. In email communications they mention a 'suspended state' but do not describe what that means.

So now I have to spend several lovely days in May sitting at my computer trying to salvage our digital identities. We will clearly have to pay for at least one of our domains - principles be damned. Charges begin Aug 1, 2022. </background>

The following is a rough guide to what I will do. Much of this requires knowledge from decades ago that I'm having to refresh.

Considerations and discoveries

  1. It's difficult to move IMAP emails between services. IMAP emails can be copied to a local store. In mail. app I've had success dragging and dropping emails from one IMAP inbox to another, but I believe this is fragile and unreliable. You can also copy, see this iCloud example.
  2. Local store email is barely supported any more., for example, 
  3. My domains are managed by Dreamhost which does provide some classic web services though fewer than it once did.
  4. Domain based email forwarding is fragile -- many services including google will reject it. See DKIM notes below.
  5. Modern email is both essential and a river of spam and Google has good spam filtering (though it was better once)
  6. The knowledge of how to manage DNS settings is more esoteric now than it once was, and Google Search no longer works.
  7. My Dreamhost DNS and mail forwarding has lots of old detritus. That's on me!

References related to closing Google Workspace accounts

  1. Microsoft on switching to Office 365 - cancel subscription
  2. Fastmail also has switching options, but price not much less that Google Workspace
  3. Google has not provided any migration guidance.
  4. You close your account by canceling the subscription: then deleting the account (see below).

References for migrating to Dreamhost email services

  1. Dreamhost email client configuration
  2. The Dreamhost custom MX config panel has 'uses Gmail' management links that take you to Google admin (so not terribly useful but at least can tell what to change.
  3. Dreamhost used to support both a mailbox and a forwarding action but you can't do that any more (still works for old settings). Dreamhost uses Roundcube Webmail but has not enabled forwarding in that app. You can use forwarding directly from a domain but I think Google treats emails forwarded this way as spam. (At one time we were supposed to have had quite large storage caps with Dreamhost, but I think email overwhelmed them. Similar to the days our Gmail storage was to be unlimited.)
  4. A comment on this post mentioned imap sync for moving email: "For transferring IMAP email, imapsync works well. There's a free version you can download and run on your computer (or on your hosting provider if you have ssh access). It's well documented and relatively easy to get your head around, and is fast and reliable. I’ve not got any affiliation, but someone pointed me to it a couple of years ago, and I’ve since used imapsync to migrate email hosts for a small organisation. Highly recommended."

References for migrating to Apple iCloud+ email

Apple supports custom domains with iCloud+ email including family sharing.
  1. You can assign up to 5 domains to a family group and for each domain each member can have up to 3 email addresses.
  2. Apple will instruct on how to do DNS settings (there's a bug in the quotes apparently) - there's also a tech note on DNS settings.
  3. Useful twitter stream on migration to iCloud
  4. Detailed twitter thread on migration - Google takeout mbox, import into Mail, then drag from local to iCloud.

My steps to closing an essentially unused account where I didn't worry about forwarding

  1. Go to Google admin console for account.
  2. Review how many users exist. (typically one)
  3. For that user review email to see if there's anything important, sites, docs, etc. Don't forget google  voice!
  4. From Google Admin account cancel your subscription. Now pay close attention so you don't miss the next step - delete your account (
When you choose to delete account you see:
Now return to Dreamhost
  1. Go to DNS for domain and delete the Google CNAME records
  2. Go Custom MX controls and Choose "make me regular email". It may take hours for this to work.
  3. At this point Dreamhost enables webmail. But I wonder if this actually blocks email forwarding even if you set that up! (The lack of warning doesn't give me a happy feeling about Dreamhost TBH.) So disable webmail. Dreamhost also has a control panel for email forwarding that I think is a disabled feature.) - NEED TO TEST MORE HERE
  4. Go to Manage Email and set up a forwarding account as needed. This can take a while. Apple picked up the DNS changes within about 15-30 minutes, but Google took 1-2h. (I wonder if DNS propagation in general works as well as it once did.)
  5. Enable DKIM if not already enabled.

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