Earlier this year I switched (after 11 years) away from Gmail to an email address at my own domain hosted by FastMail.

I didn't make this decision lightly. I knew changing email addresses could uproot my very online identity. But I was tired of the new direction Gmail's interface was heading, and I also worried about the horror stories you occasionally hear when Google accidentally closes or locks someone out of their account. Email is precious to me - especially the history it contains - and I didn't want to chance losing it.

I've used FastMail with my freelance email address for years and always been extremely satisfied. So choosing them to replace Gmail was a no-brainer.

With that introduction out of the way, what I'd really like to talk about are the four steps I took to ensure a smooth transition to my new email address.

First, I used FastMail's built-in IMAP importer tool to transfer over all eleven years worth of Gmail into my new account. The process took about six hours - they emailed me when it was complete.

Then, I setup a forwarding rule in Gmail to forward all mail to my new address and archive a copy in Gmail.

Next, I created a smart folder in 1Password that searched for my Gmail address as the login for any website. Over the next few weeks, I updated a few website from that list each day with my new email until they were all switched over.

Finally, I setup a rule in FastMail to file all email that was forwarded from Gmail to a specific folder. From there I can see all the remaining websites and mailing lists that have my old email address and update the ones I care about.

Changing email addresses isn't easy. But it's certainly doable with a little planning and some work after the fact.