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The Google G Suite Legacy free edition is being discontinued this May. I signed up for G-Suite way back pre-2010 and have been using it to maintain email for my family. This helps my elderly parents who are easily confused with email accounts.
So Long and Thanks for all the Phish
G-Suite is a tool that is intended for businesses and includes a ton of Google tools (e.g. Gmail, Drive, Calendar, ...). The free edition closed back in 2012 (yes, 2012) and was not allowing new users. I guess they've have finally tired of the free users and have given everyone a choice, switch or get out. Can't blame them for that.
Google would like for all G-Suite users to upgrade to a paid business account and are offering
$3 per user per month for the 1st year. The normal price thereafter is
$6 per user / month. So,
7 users x $6 / month would be $42 per month for Google apps which are available for free. So, I will be one of the users that wont upgrade to a Google Workspace subscription.
Google "might" offer a tool to help migrate folks like us to regular Gmail accounts, but that is not available at this time. So, I'm busy planning the migration away from G-Suite.
What are the problems?
There are four problem areas.
- Migrate my immediate family away from G-Suite email.
- Help my extended family migrate.
- Manage all of those accounts and services that we signed up or logged in with our Gmail account.
- What to do about other Google services that may be lost in the migration.
So, what's the plan?
Backup your data
There is a helpful article on how to archive your Google data. It details how to use the Google Takeout tool to download a copy of all your data! If you didn't know about this, then this just became a valuable article for you. Do it. Grab a backup copy of all your Google data. You need a backup copy.
For us, it is a safeguard in case the migration goes bad. The tool breaks your data up into 2GB zip files. It took 8 files for all my data. I downloaded it and unzipped it to a USB drive I use for backup data.
It's amazing what is in there. All your Google docs, photos, email, and much more.
My web hosting service includes email accounts. This is what I used before switching to G-Suite. To use G-Suite, I had to reconfigure the email server to point to Google instead of the included email service. This means that for email, I can switch back and no one will lose their familiar email address.
My web host provides a web mail interface that can be used to read email. Also, if you use the gmail android app, it can be configured for additional non-google email accounts. (There's the second valuable tip).
I use Thunderbird as my desktop email client. It is great for aggregating multiple email accounts (I have two active accounts and three others that I don't use).
So moving back to my web host email will solve problems 1 and 3.
Saved email messages
I have email going back to 2010 that I have saved in Gmail. These are mostly conversation threads with family members and a few emails that have attachments. Don't want to lose those.
It turns out the Google Takeout backup include an archive of all my email. This archive is stored in a file with an ".mbox" extension. I found that by using two extension in Thunderbird I could open the ".mbox" file and read all the old emails. It even includes all of the attachments! Very cool.
This article: How to Open an MBOX File (Using Mozilla Thunderbird) gave me the information I needed to set up the "TbSync" and "Provider for CalDAV & CardDAV" extensions and open up the email archive file. This actually works great - PLUS, I can remove all of those old emails from my Gmail account.
If some of my family members do not want to continue with a canofworms email account, I can set up automatic forwarding to an account of their choice. This should solve problem 2. I may need to assist them with the change.
Other Google services (problem 4)
A real concern is what other Google services will be impacted by the migration. So, the first step is to review what tools I'm actually using. Others services may not be a big deal. Just create a new gmail account and start using that one.
Drive, Docs, and Sheets
The archive included my files from Google Drive. If I had been using a desktop sync tool for drive, it would not be a problem. In my case, all the files were included in the back up. The Docs and Sheets files are stored in Excel xlsx and Word docx format, so no problem there. I can then just reorganize them onto my hard drive or another cloud storage tool like Dropbox.
I have already been using Joplin for notes, so this was no big deal. Had a couple of sample notes, that I just deleted.
This one was a bit of a problem. My solution was to use the calendar tool within Nextcloud. Under the Settings and Import section in the calendar, I was able to get the primary calDAV URL that allowed me to configure the Calendar in Thunderbird to sync with Nextcloud.
I then imported the .ics calendar file I got from the Google backup and pulled all my calendar events from Google into Nextcloud.
Synchronized the calendar in Thunderbird and unsubscribed from the Google calendar in Thunderbird. This means that Nextcloud is now my primary calendar tool.
Bonus: While I was at it, I searched for .ics files of US Holidays and Phases of the Moon. I downloaded those and imported them into Nextcloud. Finally, I subscribed to each of those calendars in Thunderbird.
Contacts are a mess! They are everywhere. Google collects them, my phone collects them. Thunderbird collects them. Nextcloud has them. In this case, not really worried about losing them since they are everywhere, plus I have a backup from Google takeout.
What I would really like is to have a database with a web frontend for managing contact lists. It would need to synch between all the different contact lists.
There's always a trade off. I'm losing nicely integrated tools with G-Suite. I'm gaining more of my data being in-house. I'll need to work with family members to help them.
My "Home Suite" now looks like this:
- Primary email migrates back to my web host.
- Thunderbird, my desktop email client, becomes more valuable.
- I'm leveraging Nextcloud in new ways and making it my primary calendar.
- Joplin is my note taking and todo list application.
- I use three other cloud storage apps for file sharing and collaboration/
- Trying out a new tool called Focalboard to see if it can take some of the "todo" load, especially for larger projects.