Prior to December 6, 2012, Google allowed users around the world to sign up for the G Suite Legacy Free Edition, which was a freemium version of Google’s G Suite offering. I am one of those users who signed up. Sixteen years later in January 2022, Google announced that support for the G Suite legacy free edition would be discontinued effect from May 1st, 2022, and users will be required to upgrade to Google Workspace if they wish to use Google services with their domain name. In the light of that announcement, this blog post is about three mistakes I will never make if I sign up for freemium solutions like the G Suite Legacy Free Edition ever again.
G Suite Legacy Free Edition: A Brief History
A brief history of the product before continuing further. G Suite was officially launched on August 28th, 2006. The Legacy Free Edition initially accommodated 100 users. After Google rebranded the product as Google Workspace on October 6th, 2020, this number was reduced to 50 users. Then Google stopped new signups altogether on December 6th, 2012, but grandfathered the existing users for another decade before announcing on January 2022 customers will have to subscribe to a paid plan to continue using Google services with their domain name.
I shall not depend on Freemium ever Again
Freemium doesn’t mean free forever. Two reasons why I say that. First Internet companies occasionally offer freemium products as a part of ongoing marketing campaigns. Usually, to entice users to eventually upgrade to premium products. In the long run, however, supporting thousands of freemium users not planning to upgrade is not financially sustainable. Second, even if a company advertises a certain product as free for life, it’s not referring to the end user’s lifetime. It’s rather referring to the lifetime of the company.
For example, sometime before the year 2014, Backupify ran a promotion that offered a free for life subscription to any user signing up before the end of the campaign. I happily signed up for a subscription and all was well for a few years. Then in the year 2014, Datto acquired Backupify, and the new owners decided to kiss all the free users goodbye by converting the freemium subscriptions to premium subscriptions. So, the first lesson is, never, ever, make the mistake of depending on freemium services, because they aren’t free forever.
I shall not rely upon Freemium ever Again
With its ability to accommodate 100 users The G Suite Legacy Free Edition looked like a very attractive opportunity at that time. I discontinued my regular Gmail account and upgraded Google’s hosted email service. If you don’t know what hosted email is, it’s Gmail with a domain name that you own where Google hosts and manages your email for you. Now I’ve to return to my regular Gmail account because I can’t afford an upgrade to Google Workspace but that isn’t the inconvenience.
In the past 15 years, I used the email accounts I created with G Suite to configure many community-driven web apps and smartphone apps that require SMTP Authentication. Now I must reconfigure the SMTP servers I used in those projects and update the MX Records, SPF Records, DKIM Authentication as well. Had I used regular Gmail from the beginning, it could have saved me a load of effort and time today. So, the second lesson is never, ever, make the mistake of relying on freemium services when building mission-critical projects.
I shall not trust in Freemium ever Again
My next point has nothing to do with the G Suite Legacy Free Edition. At least not directly. However, the example I am sharing below shows trusting your data to a freemium service can cost you dearly. Eleven years ago, Law Enforcement Agencies in New Zealand seized more than 1,000 servers used by Megaupload for hosting “criminally copyright infringed” content. Consequently, even users with gigabytes of perfectly legal content, users like Kyle Goodwin lost access to his data. Goodwin was on a premium plan. [Full Story]
Megaupload returned to the Cloud Storage business rebranded as Mega with apps for PCs and Smartphones offering a free plan with a capacity of 20 GB space (used to be 50GB) in addition to several premium plans. Sounds awesome but here’s the problem. After the seizure, even the premium users with perfectly legal content like Goodwin couldn’t access their data for years. Then, what’s the assurance, freemium users, will be safe if Mega happens to get in trouble with the law once again? So, the second lesson is never, ever, make the mistake of putting your trust in freemium services when storing your data on the cloud.
After Google announced its decision to discontinue the G Suite Legacy Free Edition I researched for alternatives and came across Zoho’s freemium plan called “Forever Free Plan”. However, I decided to not sign up because I do not wish to repeat my mistakes. If you are a G Suite Legacy Free Edition Admin looking for a freemium alternative, my advice to you is to stop searching and upgrade instead. If you can’t upgrade downgrade to a regular Gmail account. Don’t waste your time and effort for temporary gain.
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