Google Apps :: Outsourcing your e-mail hosting for FREE!

This article is no longer valid. Google now charges for all Google App setups.

 

 

 

Need help getting your domain on Google Apps?

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Google Apps :: Outsourcing your e-mail hosting for FREE!

 

 

For the impatient click here to start the process...

Since 2002 I have hosted my own e-mail using a home grown FreeBSD server running Qmail and Courier-IMAP.  Until now I have never even considered using a third party service for hosting my e-mail services.  I have always been the do it yourself type and try to save money by using open source software to host my services.  Then I ran across Google Apps and found out that I can create a couple MX records and Google will host my e-mail for free! With a few clicks of the mouse and a half cup of coffee I had my domain up and running on Google Apps.  You will be amazed by the easy setup and feature set that you can receive absolutely free of charge.

 

Google Apps - Standard Edition - A Quick Overview

The Google Apps Standard Edition comes with plenty of features for your average bear.  You get 7.3GB of e-mail storage per account.  I have never used this much space just for e-mail, and I get my fair amount of e-mail as a business owner.  As of now (01/05/2008) I have been hosting my e-mail on Google for two months and have used a whopping 17MB of space without deleting a single e-mail message.  That's a whole 0% of my total quota of 7.3GB in two months.  This is the same amount of space that Gmail users get, which makes sense because if they are going to give away Gmail accounts for free then why not allow folks to create e-mails using their own domain names and give them the same features right?  It doesn't cost Google anything extra for you to use your own domain name compared to giving you one @gmail.com. The only real limit they set on the Standard Edition is that you can only create up to 200 e-mails per domain name.  Now if I'm not mistaken this is plenty of e-mail accounts for most small and medium businesses.  The only reason for the 200 e-mail account limit is because they do have a Premier Edition and they would, of course, like to make a profit from larger businesses.

Will Google Apps work for your business?

In this techies humble opinion the Standard Edition is plenty for what most businesses need. To break it down you get:

  • To send and receive e-mails using your businesses domain name.
  • To create and share calendar appointments.
  • To create and share Documents. (Docs, Spreadsheets, and Presentation Slideshows)
  • To communicate using Google chat.
  • The ability to send e-mail to groups or departments created via the domain management panel.
  • The Stability of Google!

There are many other features besides these but I think you get the gist of things.  Unless you have some special need to have your e-mail hosting on-site, Google Apps will work wonders for your business and probably offer features that you don't currently have.  Most importantly the price is right... FREE!

Spam Protection

If you have administered an e-mail server and used SpamAssassin or the likes then you know how difficult it is to fight spam.  Although I'm not sure what Google uses to eliminate spam, it does a very good job of collecting trash in the Spam folder.  In the two months that I have used Google Apps to host my e-mail I have yet to receive one single spam message in my inbox.  I can't tell you how valuable this feature is just by itself.  I don't know how many hours I have spent trying to fight spam on my own e-mail server but I'm sure it's ridiculous.  You will save yourself a huge headache just on this feature alone.

Support

For the Standard Edition of Google Apps you get no support from Google themselves.  What you do get is an entire user community of people that have ran into every Google Apps issue known to man and posted solutions in a special Google Apps forum which you can access via the help link from any of your Google Apps pages.  The folks in the Google Apps community are very eager to help.  I have posted a few issues there and received appropriate solutions within 24 hours.  I believe Google offers incentives for experienced techs who receive credit for solutions they have posted to the community.  So if you run into an issue or have problems with a feature you'll be happy to know that there are techs available to help you out or at least point you in the right direction.

How to setup Google Apps for your domain

The Google Apps site is somewhat geared towards selling their Premier Edition of Google Apps so they have designed the site to push users towards the Premier Edition rather than showcasing the Standard Edition. 

Lets not waste tons of time (like I did) trying to find the sign-up page for the Standard Edition and I'll link you directly to it :)

https://www.google.com/a/cpanel/standard/new3?hl=en&source=gafb-pricing-tablebottom-en

Google does an excellent job of walking you through the process of getting your domain setup on Google Apps but, for the sake of this blog post I will walk you through it.  I am going to assume you already own your domain name.

  1. Enter your domain in the input field and click Submit (assuming you already own the domain name you want to use)
  2. Fill out the required information in the sign-up form including a Username and password for your new Google Apps account as well as the organizational information. Be sure that in the Alternate e-mail address field you provide an e-mail address which is not at the domain you are signing up with. The reason for this is so that if for some reason your main domain goes down they have an alternate method of contacting you. Think of it as an alternate phone number or emergency contact.

Click the "I Accept. Create my account" button.

  1. The next screen will popup a window asking you which type of setup you'd like to do. You can always customize your Google Apps setup later so for this tutorial let's click "Go Express".
  2. This should bring us to the welcome screen. Click Next to move to the domain verification step. This step allows you to prove that you own the domain and have authority to set it up on Google Apps.

    There are a few methods of verifying that you own the domain but the easiest is to simply upload the verification file to your website (if you have one) and clicking the verify button. If you're not sure how to upload files to your website then have your web developer or site designer help you with this step. If that doesn't work then you can always feel free to contact us to help with the setup.

    Once you have successfully verified ownership of your domain click the Continue link to continue the Google Apps setup.
     
  3. For the Google Apps side your setup is done.  If you were successful you should now be at your Google Apps Control Panel.  You just have one more thing to do to activate your domain on Google apps and that is to setup your DNS records.  
  4. Click on the "Direct email to Google Apps mail" link to start this process. This will take you to another welcome screen under the Setup tab.
  5. Instead of stepping through the complete setup here, for the purposes of this tutorial, click "Setup your apps" on the left, then click Gmail, then click "Set up Gmail". 
  6. Keep the radio button on Google Servers and click Next. This will provide you with a drop-down where you can select your hosting provider and get a link to where you can add the MX records to your DNS settings for your domain. You'll want to add the following MX records to forward all e-mail to Google:

    ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM.
    ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM.
    ALT2.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM.
    ASPMX2.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 
    ASPMX3.GOOGLEMAIL.COM.

    Once that is complete you're all done. You can login to your e-mail at https://www.google.com/a/yourdomain.com and send and receive e-mail.

Once your DNS is setup properly you should be good to go!  One other thing that I did for my domain was created a CNAME record for mail.mydomain.com and pointed it to ghs.google.com so that rather than typing in that daunting temporary link they give you to access your e-mail all your users can go to mail.yourdomain.com to login and access their e-mail accounts.

 

Comments  

 
# cralls 2013-04-09 23:42
It's unfortunate this service is no longer free. The good news is the price is extremely cheap for the services provided. Only $5 per month to get your e-mail hosted by Google plus an entire suite of other top notch web based applications.

Take a look at the new pricing and plans below:

www.google.com/intl/en/enterprise/apps/business/pricing.html
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