Update 17 May 2022 : Google has activated the free-no-cost option for personal usage. Screenshots at the end of this post.
Hello 👋 dear people!
For those who are unaware, the G Legacy Suite, previously known as Google Apps, allowed you to run a range of Google products for a small group of people, totally free of cost 💰. This includes Gmail, Drive, Photos, YouTube etc… The big advantage of this service is the ability to host all these under a custom domain, meaning, you could have your whole family using email addresses ending with @yourfamilyname.com.
I even wrote a post describing how to do it : https://yashvinblogs.com/2011/11/19/family-email/
That was awesome since you did not have to pay for a custom email provider. On top of that, using gmail to manage your custom email domain was the coolest thing ever. I cannot remember the number of times people looked awkwardly at me when I gave them my email address with my family name 😆
All good (and free) things come to an end…
Few weeks ago, Google announced its decision to end one of its free products, the G Legacy Suite, causing an outrage 🤺🥷 on specialized forums on the web.
Google said that you either move to the paid Google Workspace packages ( for a discounted price and then later at $6 per user per month) or you stop using the services by July 2022 🗓.
For those who used the G Legacy Suite to run their business and making profits, at least at some point of time, it was normal to pay for the service. But many people have been using the free service to host the family email, just like I have been doing since 2010.
Linked accounts and services
This also means that these people use their custom email address to create accounts all over the web and also in real life. So for many persons, it became a priority to find an alternative custom email provider before the deadline or just pay for the service.
For those whose the custom email address is not critical, they can always move the content to a free Gmail account, although Google did mention that they will provide a free migration tool at a later stage, without giving any dates.
There are hundreds of pages which have been written on the topic… I will not go all over them again but rather on my specific requirements and what matches my needs the most:
- A reliable email provider with custom domain support 📩
- Availability of desktop, web versions and mobile apps 📱
- Readily available without need for constant technical intervention / maintenance 🧑🔧
- Not excessively priced 🤑
Microsoft 365 Family Plan
Since I needed only 6 email users, I found that the most logical move will be Microsoft 365 Family Plan, with hopefully Microsoft adding possibilities to increase / pay for additional users in the future :
For an annual fee of $99.99, you get 50GB mailbox per user via Outlook, 1TB of space per user for backups via OneDrive, access to all office apps (Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Teams, etc), 60 minutes of free calls to mobile phones per month via Skype.
For the need of the post and testing before the big switch, I created an account on Microsoft 365 Family. For some reasons, the one month trial did not work but Microsoft Support reassured me : I will get a 100% refund if I cancel the plan within the first 30 days.
As I mentioned, if you have the maximum number of users, that will cost barely $1.4 per user per month. The only limitation for now is the max of 6 users per plan.
Apple’s ecosystem is worth mentioning too as it seems that they have everything you need : photo backup, iCloud files backup and support for custom email domain, although I did not test it.
The only downside of the iCloud is that you need to add all your family members under your main iCloud account. This means that all purchases will need to go through the main account. I believe that Apple’s Family Sharing is made for family under one roof (a couple with kids), not for an extended family with cousins, uncles etc, whereby everyone wants to be independent.
Google Products I will still need via another free account
Google Photos 📸: For those who follow me, you have surely come across my daily ageing project which consists of daily selfies I have been taking since 2013… On top of those thousands of pictures, I also back up my smartphone pictures on Google Photos. Personally, I find Google Photos very intuitive. I simply love the way photos are organized, easily accessible.
I tried uploading my photos to Microsoft’s OneDrive but I believe that the product is not made for Photos backup. It looks more like a file backup and sharing app, comparable to Google Drive. Apple’s iCloud is a good photo back up service with decent prices, albums sharing, face grouping and search capability which might be worth considering too.
YouTube 📽: I do have a channel but most of the videos are set as private as they are rather video backups of events etc which we regularly watch. Fortunately, my YouTube is linked to another Gmail account, not my custom email one.
Google Passwords 🔐: If your browsers automatically fill in your passwords, you must be aware that this is probably being pulled from passwords.google.com or perhaps some service or other third party software. In case your passwords are being saved in your G Legacy’s account, you can easily export and import them in another free Google account and probably to other similar services.
Google Contacts👫 holds your saved contacts at contacts.google.com and these are the same contacts which appear in your phone when you sync your google account with an Android or iOS mobile. Similar to passwords, you can export and import your contacts again without any problem
Google Maps 🗺: I can nearly cry in this section. I have dedicated so much of my time and effort in contributing actively in Google Maps in terms of adding places, writing reviews, reviewing facts etc.
Activating the custom email domain on Microsoft Family 365
If your domain is hosted on GoDaddy, no technical knowledge is required as you won’t need to modify DNS settings. Everything is just a matter of clicks. However, if for some reason, you use another domain manager, things might get dirty but I read that it is nevertheless possible.
My advice : just switch to GoDaddy!
Step 1 : Open your Microsoft 365 Outlook Settings and click on “Get Started!”
Step 2 : Select “I already own a domain” or “Get a domain”
Step 3 : Validate your domain
Step 4 : Sign in to your GoDaddy account
Step 5 : Click “Connect“
Step 6 : Create your custom email address
Step 7 : tadaaaaaa!
Step 8 : Manage your email
You now have a new settings area for your custom email domain.
And you can now send / receive email using your custom email domain
Sharing the Microsoft 365 Family Plan
Once you have purchased the plan and set up the customs email, you can start sending invites or links to the 5 other family members.
After signing in with an existing Microsoft account or a newly created one to accept the family sharing, family members can at their turn create their custom email address :
The custom email address created by the family members is visible on the administrator’s account too :
However, I find this extremely critical configuration and the custom email settings should be made available to the family administrator only.
Migrating your stuff away from G Legacy Suite
Over the past days, I have been reading about the various ways to transfer my emails.
The methods worth trying and which actually work :
Gmail Import :
If you have another Gmail account, you can use “Import Mail” feature on that secondary account to pull all emails from your G Legacy Suite email account. Remember that if you do not have 2 step authentication enabled on your G Suite account, you need to generate an app password there. Also, you will need to enable “Less secure apps” in Google settings.
Outlook import and export
When testing the Microsoft Family 365 plan, I connected my email address from G Legacy Suite to Microsoft Outlook. Outlook automatically downloads all your mails (be sure to select No limit in the account settings). Then, you do a File -> Export of the email account to create a copy of all emails in a specific file.
Once this is done, you sign in your Microsoft account in the same Microsoft Outlook and you do an import of that previously saved file. All emails from that file will be uploaded to your Microsoft mailbox, and hence accessible on your custom domain account from any device.
For anyone who need to migrate their Google Photos from the G Legacy Suite (or any gmail account) to another Gmail account, the easiest way is to share the pictures from the source account to the destination account. You can share only 1500 pictures at a go but it will take at most a few minutes or a couple of hours depending on the amount of pictures you have.
I did try to do a Google Takeout of Google Photos, download all the files and re-upload them on the secondary Gmail account. Believe me, the sharing method is less tedious and although it seems time consuming, it goes very fast.
As stated earlier, all the above is based on proof of concept I did with a Microsoft 365 Family Plan and a domain I have on GoDaddy. Migration of email towards the Microsoft plan worked perfectly as well as photos were correctly copied to a secondary Gmail account. You might also need to move your data from the Google Drive to Microsoft’s OneDrive.
I will continue playing around for a few days before I will either cancel the trial of Microsoft 365 Family subscription (and subscribe again when the deadline is nearer) or migrate the data for other family members straightaway, unless there is some other serious solution coming up. Hopefully Google will reconsider G Legacy Suite being used solely for family and offer some free solutions or a new Google Workspace Family package. Also, looking forward to get a proper migration tool from Google before the deadline.
Anyone in the same dilemma🧨 ? What are your future plans?
Update 17 May 2022 :
Google has activated the free-no-cost option for personal usage.
YAY! Finally Google acknowledges that real people actually used this product for real family needs, hence offering a cost-free option to stay on the Google Ecosystem. Since this post, I really stopped contributing to Google Maps and Reviews, but now, I can go back and catch up!