Free Email Forwarding Options with DigitalOcean?

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It’s great moving away from shared hosting and migrating all your sites to a cloud hosting solution like DigitalOcean, but what to do about email hosting? Configuring Postfix/Dovecot can be a daunting task and also a complete nightmare to maintain.

Recently I’ve started pointing my domains’ MX records to Mailgun and setting up routes and forwards to Gmail from there. This means I can use any Gmail account with my custom domains and never have to worry about maintaining a mail server. This also saves having to fork out for G-Suite or similar mail service.

Update Feb 2020: I’m sorry to announce that Mailgun have recently removed free access to Routes. I will update this article once I find a free and stable alternative.

Mailgun is free with an allowance of 10,000 emails per month, which is more than enough for the average emailing I do. It also means I can finally get rid of my Namecheap and GoDaddy web hosting and cut some monthly costs there.

I’ve written a guide which details the entire process of setting up routes in Mailgun. Hope this is of use.

How do you manage your email? If you’ve any other suggestions, let us know in the Feedback!

Let me know if this helped. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or 🍊 buy me a smoothie.

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      1. I tried the open-source but they seemed to be on a DNSBL that meant both my personal and work emails refused to deliver to the MXes.

        1. Thanks- This is my concern now that Mailgun have started charging for mail routing. It’s hard to find a free service now that doesn’t have spam and reliability issues. You’d be better off paying a small fee for something reliable. I’ll be publishing an article on this soon.

          1. I set up improvmx and it seems to be working fine. It’s a service from CloudFlare, which means that it’s either trustworthy or not depending on what you feel about that company. And there’s a Privacy option where you can choose how much they log… basic headers just about the transmission of the message (saved for 7 days), or you can add on subject/message-id/sender/recipient headers to that 7-day retention (which is the default). The highest level of data storage is that you can have them save the full message in the event that it’s undeliverable after 7 days.

  1. I will check the guide. I have used elasticemail in exactly the same way you describe, but a lot of the messages I’ve sent were marked as spam and had to stop using it. I have settled for a combination of Dreamhost for domain registration and e-mail plus Digital Ocean for hosting. So far is good, but indeed I have to pay 2 services instead of one.