Switching Providers

Why switching providers?

Many users start by creating a Matrix account on Matrix.org, operated by the Matrix.org Foundation. It is a reliable and free provider, but as they grow communities may want to host their own instance to have more control over their data and image.


One of the most noticeable changes when a community moves to its own homeserver is the domain-based branding. Indeed, instead of having user identifiers following the format @username:matrix.org and room addresses following the format #roomname:matrix.org, communities can start creating user accounts and room names with their domain name (e.g. @username:example.com and #roomname:example.com).

Using matrix.orgUsing example.com
User Matrix ID@alice:matrix.org@alice:example.com
Room Address#goodfriends:matrix.org#goodfriends:example.com

Rooms and accounts sovereignty

When someone creates a room, they automatically have the highest Power Level for that room. This Power Level is usually 100, but custom setup can allow that number to be higher. The highest Power Level of a room is de-facto its owner and can appoint co-owners, moderators, redact messages, exclude people from the conversation, and much more.

This is a significant power, but fortunately homeserver administrators can impersonate their homeserver users to get back in control of a room if the user was in fact malicious. Note that this doesn't mean homeserver administrators can read messages of the user they impersonate: the messages are End-to-End Encrypted and the homeserver administrator doesn't have access to the decryption keys, since they live on the user's devices.

Homeserver administrators can use Synapse's non-standard Admin API and more particularly the Make Room Admin API to promote other users as administrators of the room. This API will only work if one of their users is in the room. It will grant the highest power level available among their users to their target.

A community managed by people who have @xxx:matrix.org accounts depends on the support team of matrix.org to escalate issues and try to get back in control of a room. The Matrix.org Foundation has limited means, and its support team works in best effort mode. Proving the room belonged to you and you shared it by accident can be a tedious process since the Matrix.org Foundation takes particular care about social engineering issues.

For a more advanced explanation of how room ownership works, please head to the rooms section of the technical documentation.

Bridging to your systems

The Matrix.org Foundation and t2bot.io are hosting some public bridges for the convenience of users. They are of course bridging public services with the Matrix.org homeserver.

If you want to bridge a private service such as your company's Slack Workspace, you will need to deploy a bridge by yourself since the Matrix.org homeserver doesn't accept bridges to new private systems.

Finally, relying on bridges hosted by the Matrix.org Foundation creates unnecessary centralisation around it: if either the Matrix.org homeserver or the bridge hosted by the Matrix.org Foundation are down, you temporarily lose access to this system. To understand why, please read the app services and room sections of the Matrix Concepts documentation.

You can find a list of the systems that can be bridged to Matrix on the bridges section of this website.

Picking a new provider

The Matrix.org Foundation happily provides the matrix.org homeserver as a convenience, but strongly encourages organisations to get their own homeserver.

The simplest route to get your own homeserver is to pay a provider to host a Matrix instance for you. You can find such a provider among the list of hosting providers the Matrix.org Foundation is aware of.

Rolling your own

People who either want or need to have on-premises can either pick a server implementation they are comfortable with and install it themselves, or get an on-premises support plan from one of the providers the Foundation knows.

Transferring ownership

Transferring ownership is one of the great strengths of Matrix. You can start your community with an account you have created on the matrix.org homeserver and then decide to move to another server.

Matrix doesn't have (yet?) a concept of ownership: it only relies on Power Levels to define whether someone is authorised to do something or not. This means that the person who has the highest Power Level in a room or a Space is a (co-)owner of that room and Space.

Whenever you give the Power Level 100 (sometimes seen as the role "Administrator") to someone else, you're effectively sharing the ownership of your room or Space with them. As co-owners you can't unilaterally take back what was given to the other.

Imagine Alice had created a few rooms in a Space on matrix.org for her Warm Drinks community. She then decides that Warm Drinks is serious business and she wants to have a Matrix instance dedicated to it. She relies on a hosting provider to create a warm-drinks.com homeserver. Then she creates the user @alice:warm-drinks.com.

She can promote @alice:warm-drinks.com to the Power Level 100 in all the rooms and Spaces about warm drinks she had created on matrix.org, and demote her matrix.org user. Now her new user is the only owner of the community.