Fastmail.fm: A Backpacker’s Best Friend

You’ve been there. Don’t tell me you haven’t. Sitting in the email cafe, waiting five minutes and more for Hotmail to load, you’re thinking, why is this thing so goddamn SLOW?

And Yahoo and Gmail aren’t much better. If you’re travelling anywhere interesting, odds are your link is gonna be at a crawl.

Enter stage right: fastmail.fm.

Fastmail.fm is fast. Really fast. (With a name like “fastmail,” they better be!) They have optimized every aspect of their service to be as absolutely fast as possible – and it makes a noticeable difference.

Unlike Hotmail, Yahoo, or Gmail, there are no ads – the graphics are a killer on your bandwidth when you’re on a slow link. Fastmail.fm never shows you ads. Instead, they make their money from users (like me!) who like the free service so much, they’re willing to pay for extra bandwidth and storage.

Think about it. The other “free” email providers want to show you as many ads as possible. But fastmail.fm wants to give you the best email
service possible. Who do you think has the incentive to provide the best service?

And Fastmail.fm provides the most comprehensive set of features available from any web mail company, things that google wouldn’t dare do – like hosting your MX record, or custom Sieve scripts for advanced email filtering, or providing you with IMAP email, for instance.

Yes, Fastmail.fm is an IMAP server, too! This means that you aren’t limited to viewing your email in a web browser – you can use your favorite email program (like Thunderbird or Outlook) to view your email on the fastmail.fm server. You’ll never have to look at your email in a web browser again – unless, of course, you want to, or when you’re travelling.

But fastmail.fm‘s web interface is pretty groovy, too, with some great features for travellers. Ever emailed your resume to yourself for safekeeping, or a five-line to-do list (and thought that was a rather silly way of doing it)? Fastmail.fm beats Gmail on this score hands-down – they have a File Storage section where you can save your resume, or your photos, or other important documents for later use. They also have a Notepad section where you can write yourself quick text notes and save them as reminders for later. (A great place to keep your passport number, travellers check serial numbers, etc.)

In fact, you can even publish your documents or photos online with fastmail.fm – just select the files or folders you want to be made public, and say what url you want (e.g. http://joeuser.fastmail.fm/thailand_pics/) and send your friends and family a link.

One of the funkier aspects of fastmail.fm is that you don’t have to have a ‘fastmail.fm’ address. They also own several dozen other domain
names, so if you prfer ‘janedoe@fastemail.us’ or ‘geekyboy@warpmail.com’ or ‘whatever@eml.cc’, you can do that too.

Finally, if you decide to check out fastmail.fm, you won’t have to keep checking all those other accounts – fastmail.fm can retrieve your hotmail or other POP mail for you. So if you’re stuck in Hotmail or Gmail land, it’s very, very easy to switch to something better.

Fastmail.fm is the fastest free email on the planet, and a traveller’s essential tool. And if you’re looking for a top email provider for business or personal use, you should definitely check out fastmail.fm – it is a very good value for money.


Jens Porup is a computer programmer, freelance writer, playwright, and ex-pat Yank currently living in Melbourne, Australia.