Notes from the family IT department

Creating family email accounts avoiding Big Tech

I read a column about registering your baby’s email and social media handles to ensure their names are not taken by the time they grow up (especially if you have a common last name). Although many people will find this idea ridiculous, I have empathy for parents thinking about their family’s online identity – see my last post – but I am also a big advocate for being in control of your digital footprint and not relying on free services. Like most of the internet users, I have used Gmail, Hotmail (now Outlook) or Yahoo for personal accounts as long as I can remember; however, becoming more privacy concerned I finally set-out to find alternatives for my family’s email.

After registering a domain, the easiest solution is to set up email forwarding. In this solution you set-up aliases that can be linked to your free Big Tech account. For example, if you register the domain you can set it up so that any emails send to are automatically forwarded to your account. The advantage of this solution is that you can start using a custom email address for both receiving & sending mails, but the downside is that you continue to use the free service, paying with your personal data.

The most complicated solution I looked at is to self-host my own email server. This is the ultimate solution for being self-reliant, but entails a lot of complexity, especially around spam filtering, for which my tech skills are (currently) too limited. One day I might revisit the self-hosting idea, but for now I focused on paid email solutions.

There are many paid email solutions both by Big Tech (i.e. Google Workspace, Microsoft 365) and smaller privacy focused providers (i.e. Fastmail, The main problem I ran into is that the solutions are either geared towards businesses or individual users. Most paid plans are pay per user, which can add-up quickly for families and include many additional services we would not use. I want a simple, no-thrills, email service that is not too expensive.

After some research, I chose Migadu, which offers a flat price of $19 / year for their Micro plan and unlimited email addresses. The caveat is that there are limits on storage (5GB) + sending (20 emails / day) & receiving (200 emails / day) mails. For my family this is not a problem as these limits are well within our (daily) usage. Setting up the initial configuration using the Migadu Admin Panel and Domain Provider settings can be daunting, but I found their portal & instructions to be very easy to follow. After setting up a mailbox for each family member, I followed their guides to set-up the email accounts on my relatives’ devices (using open source clients as much as possible). We are now fully transitioned and happily using our awesome [at] mail addresses at a good price without relying on Big Tech!

If you are interested in step-by-step instructions to (family) domain name registration & Migadu mailbox set-up, send a email to ITdepartment [at] and if there is enough demand I will create a guide.

#email #domain