Fasthosts pull a ‘Gordon’ with new webmail

June 24, 2008

Gordon Brown has famously ripped a few Conservative policies in his brief time as our benevolent leader, but we expect that of the politicians don’t we.  Of course we have the right to vote them out….

Taking this leadership to heart (sic), Fasthosts have pulled a classic ‘Gordon’ by launching a new webmail service today (in Beta) that bears remarkable similarity to that being presented by one of their competitors ‘Heart Internet’.

Fasthosts Webmail     Heart\'s WebMail

Compare the images above and make your own mind up.

Now it’s true that both companies have based their webmail on a widely available Open Source product – sure.  But there are significant differences.

Fasthosts Customers have been pressuring for a proper webmail client for at least 5 years.  Heart Internet launched as a company in 2004 (I think), and have provided a proper mail client from the start.

Fasthosts version is plastered with their branding and if you want to re-sell it, then you get to pay an additional £100 per year for the privilege of removing their branding from a product they haven’t paid for.  With HI, it’s just free because that’s what the software is to them – free. 

NOTE: since this post was first written, Fasthosts branding has been removed from the reseller version of the webmail system, making the statement above misleading and inaccurate.  Good. We’re glad we can be of assistance.

Fasthosts boast ‘Sent Items’ as a feature.  That’s because for years Fasthosts has not recorded your sent itmes anywhere.  You send an email to someone, and if you don’t CC yourself on the mail, any record of it is gone forever. Every decent web hosting company on the face of the planet provides Sent Items except for Fasthosts, and since this new webmail product is in Beta, well they still don’t provide Sent Items today.  Man! you are Sooooo 1997!!

Many of the features that come as standard with this product are turned off in the Fasthosts rollout, such as synchronisation with Outlook and Mobile Devices, clearly turned off so that webmail doesn’t conflict with Fasthosts huge investment in Exchange. 

NOTE: We have also removed inaccurate statements about the mail quota, which does in fact appear on the start page as long as you have something in your folders.  This is a feature of the package they have implemented, and is nothing to do with Fasthosts, who are clearly technically brilliant.

OK – Now we don’t want to blather on about Heart Internet in this post – we are not about promoting other hosting companies, it just happens that Fasthosts seem so hopelessly inept in comparison with Heart, and bent on competing with them feature for feature, but just keep getting it totally wrong.

However it is clearly excrutiatingly embarassing to be in the industry, watching Fasthosts competing with Heart, and then FH do something like this.  Why oh why didn’t you just write your own, or launch it a year ago, and launch it with a full feature set?  Oh, hold on a minute – why am I asking? This is the Fasthosts Numpty Farm we’re talking about here, not serious capable Software Engineers.

Before you choose to buy a Fasthosts account, think carefully about what it means for your business, or your personal requirements.  Would you trust a company that won’t even provide you with a Sent Items folder?  ..or slaps their ugly badge all over someone elses product and then asks their own resellers to pay to remove it when selling on to a customer?

I guess the one thing Fasthosts will claim is a world class service, best computing platform and excellent customer support.  If you believe that, you don’t deserve a Sent Items folder.

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9 Responses to “Fasthosts pull a ‘Gordon’ with new webmail”

  1. Richard Shemming Says:

    No response needed by email – but you might want to consider correcting your post which I stumbled on through Google alerts for Fasthosts (always a good read).

    Did you spend much time looking at the new Webmail Beta before writing this post? About this matter specifically, you’re giving FH a rough ride without checking your facts.

    You don’t have to pay to remove FH branding – just access it using any domain on your reseller account and you’ll get an unbranded version, or branded if you’ve chosen to go the full hog. This is made perfectly clear. If I remember rightly from when I was choosing a web host for multi-domains, Heart’s implementation lets you brand the login page only.

    Mailbox quota usage is displayed on the Start page once you’ve logged in – so your comments about FH not knowing how to make it work are also incorrect.

    Sent mail – okay so it’s been a long time coming, but it’s here now so let’s all breathe a sigh of relief and tell our clients.

    Life’s not all rosy at Heart Internet by the sounds of things. Only this week they scrambled passwords and then emailed new passwords to the wrong customers, or something like that. Check The Register for more details. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/24/heart_internet_password_gaffe/

    Heart only offer Linux with free opensource features that are packed with known security exploits. FH at least offer a full service with Windows. Where’s the Hosted Exchange from Heart? Nope, just basic mail.

    And of course the million dollar question… Why oh why oh do you still have an account with FH if you’re so uptight about their service? It’s not that difficult to move, and arguably would have been quicker than putting this blog together.

  2. no2fasthosts Says:

    Hi Mr Shemming,

    Interestingly, the screenshot shown in this post was taken after logging into the service last night. For some strange reason (can’t think why), when I logged into the same account this evening, the Fasthosts logo had been removed and replaced with the generic logo seen today. Funny that!

    Also, you mention the Mailbox quota appearing on the webmail front page? I hold my hands up to this – the quota only appears when there is something in the folders. This is a feature of the software itself, and nothing to do with Fasthosts.

    Sent Items. You’re taking an interesting standpoint here if you really do have clients hosted on FH. Between myself and my colleagues, we have had more than 1000 email accounts hosted on FH, and of that 1000, more than half have complained bitterly that this feature was missing. Of those who complained, most eventually moved away to other hosts who considered their sent email to be more important than the spam they recieve.

    Sure Heart Internet has problems too, but we are not here to criticise Heart or any other host. This forum is a rage against the FH machine. As it happens, we have a reseller account with Heart (among others), and the Linux/Open Source platform is what makes infinitely better than Fasthosts. If you think that makes it ‘packed with security exploits’, you should realise that each and every one of those packages is also hosted on Fasthosts by the customers themselves.

    I’m not sure what you mean by a ‘Full service with Windows’…? Windows is infinitely less suited as an internet server than any flavour of *nix, and considerably less secure. The only reason FH boast Windows as their flagship platform is that they can rack a Windows server cheaper than they can Linux.

    Does Heart do Exchange – no, and I hope they never do. But if you want Exchange, why would you go to Fasthosts? For £1.50 less than Fasthosts price you can host a fully-featured Exchange account, with full access to the GAL, integrated Sharepoint and 1GB of space, which is more than enough for Exchange.

    And the cost model breaks down even quicker when you realise that if you need more than 10 Fasthost echange mailboxes (£1200pa), you may as well buy an entry level SBBS server from Dell and host it on a Home Broadband connection. This will pay for itself within 2 years and give you far more features/flexibity. Sure, you have to look after it, but you’re a skilled reseller right?

    Why do we still have Fasthosts accounts? Who says we do, numpty. We have *access* to Fasthosts standard and reseller accounts, because we have to maintain these on behalf of our customers. We haven’t owned a FH account on our own book for quite some time..

  3. Interested Party Says:

    A new webmail client has been a long time coming for FH. The old one was a mess and certainly wasn’t ‘business class’ as they claim. Free webmail was in some cases better than that FH was offering. Could you provide a link to the beta?

    Interested party.

  4. dante Says:

    Only God can forgive the wickedness, cruelty and extortion I have experienced from fasthosts! I hosted a site with them, only to find out that the email was crappy. I then decided to purchase their exchange email. Unfortunately i missed one of my monthly payments. Hardly could I believe it when I found out that fasthosts had not only disabled my email, they also took my website down till I settled the 9pounds email bill! The most annoying part of it all is that I had to pay 20pounds as a punishment for not paying the 9pounds early. Anyone doing business with fasthosts is looking for real trouble.

  5. Norman Says:

    Can you shed a light on which open-source package the FH webmail is based on?

    Also, what is the situation with incoming spam emails at FH? Do customers see a lot of spam in their mailboxes or is spam filtered?

  6. no2fasthosts Says:

    Reply to Norman:

    Open Source WebMail: http://atmail.org

    Incoming spam filters are rudimentary. We advise our users to run their own spam filters locally. You have some basic control over the filtering, but it is pretty much a default out of the box installation of a basic product that is rarely maintained.

    That’s not to say that the product FH use is not a good one, but it’s the *way* it’s used that is exasperating. It’s a basic nod to spam filtering.

  7. Steve Says:

    Any webmail is better than none at all, so far i gather FH are having a few problems with Webmail at the current time [10:12am GMT 26th Aug 2009] as it has the error “link not found”. Bad stuff for the people out there that use it for work?

  8. M Says:

    FH sell extra storage space but don’t tell you that there is a limit of 500 messages per standard mailbox. I have just purchased extra storage space and guess what my customers mailbox is still behaving as if it is full!

  9. Tom Stickland Says:

    The webmail interface is full of bugs. For example, it regularly fails to delete posts.


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