If you decided to test out Google apps Google email service: as a web design company we not only host client websites but also their email.
From time to time we have found the email to be problematic, it takes up space and uses lots of bandwidth so we decided to test out Google email on a few of our domains to see if it was something we might roll out to clients.
How to Switch Your Email to Google Email
With the Gmail service, you can still use your email addresses – i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org but use Google’s servers to store and transmit the emails, etc.
As a business decision, you may or may not want to hand your email service over to Google, but that’s a different question.
The switchover to Google email is not particularly difficult. I’ve included some slides below showing how I configured email from example domain mydomain.com to go via Google’s web servers: the whole process took some 10 minutes from start to finish.
In this example, I’m using WHM to change the domain’s MX and DNS records and configuring MS Outlook to pull emails from the server and send emails out via it.
Of course, you might not want to use a pc based mail client – in which case you can just log in to Google email and view using their standard web front-end.
First, make sure that you are signing up for the free Google apps webmail service, it still offers lots of features, and you can add up to 50 mailboxes go to http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html.
The signup process is very straightforward.
Just enter your domain name and click ‘Get Started.’
Next, you’ll have to give the big G some personal info.
When you’ve filled in your vital statistics, just click continue, and you’ll be taken to the next step where you create your first administrator account.
You, of course, need to read the small print to make sure that is is only your vital business correspondence you are entrusting to Google and you aren’t signing away your house, your soul or your first-born.
Next page shows you various information and links to other tabs. Just click on ‘continue with setup guide.’
We’re now in the setup for your domain email, so things are a little more complex here but not overly so.
On the following screen check the box stating that you signed up for ‘My primary domain where my users receive email and click next.
Next, you need to verify that you own the domain – there is a splash screen outlining the methods you can use to do this. Click Next.
You then get a choice of 4 options as shown below. If you have access to the DNS records for the domain you can add a DBS record.
You can lin to your analytics account. Upload a file to your website, or you can add a meta tag to your website’s homepage.
On the following screengrab, it shows Add a meta tag is checked, I change my mind and decided to upload a file.
When you check the upload an HTML file option, some extra options open up on the screen where you can handily download the expected file to your pc.
At this point, I downloaded the file from the webpage, fired up FileZilla, uploaded the file to the root of my website (in this case the public HTML directory) and clicked verify – if you then click on the resulting link you are shown the page on your website.
That’s the first step sorted. At this point we have a Google email account linked to our domain, we have our first mailbox setup, and we’ve verified that we own the domain so Google email can use it.
In the next post, we’ll look at the next step which is to tell your domain how to use Google email as your mail server.
So – the next part of our task in moving email traffic away from our server and leveraging Google’s vast infrastructure to concentrate on delivering better web hosting to our website design clients is to point our domain to Google’s mail servers.
The instructions and screenshots below are for the WHM control panel, but any domain control panel should allow you to add and edit DNS and MX records (you might need to look in your hosts or registrars FAQ for the relevant details).
It is important to add here that you can completely mess up your hosting and make your website unavailable if you alter the wrong records here – so if unsure it is probably a good idea to have someone do it who knows what they are doing.
So we’ve logged into WHM and clicked on the DNS functions icon on the WHM homepage.
First, we’re going to click on ‘Edit MX Entry’ – after selecting the domain to edit you will see the following screen.
On this screen make sure that you select ‘Automatically detect configuration’ and add the MX entries one at a time as below (if using WHM of course).
After keying in the above entries click on save.
The last thing that we should do here is to add an SPF record for the domain.
Back on the DNS Functions page click on ‘Edit DNS Entry’ and select the appropriate domain from the resulting drop-down menu.
On the mix edit page we want to add a new TXT record – you should be able to see the new MX entries all in the record, all we need to do is add a new TXT record for mydomain.com with the text ‘v=spf1 include:_spf.google.com ~all’ as shown below – DO NOT alter any other entries as you can mess up your hosting.
If we save the record, then we have completed stage 2.
Emails sent to the mailbox that we earlier set up in google email will now be received in our Google email account. Thus we can use Google emails web interface to access our emails and send emails from our domain wherever we are.
Now we’re going to configure MS Outlook to send and receive emails to we aren’t just limited to the web interface (and adverts) that Google email provides us with.
Open up Outlook – click on Tools – Account Settings and then click on the little ‘new’ icon to add a new account. We select the first option and click ‘next.’
Here we add our name, email address, type in and confirm the password. Make sure that you check the box ‘Manually configure server settings or additional server types’ or Outlook will go off and try and fail to auto-configure your account. Click ‘next.’
Select ‘Internet E-mail’ and click ‘next.’
On this screen, we need to ensure that the settings are set to POP3 for Account Type.
The incoming mail server should be set to pop.googlemail.com
Outgoing mail server SMTP set to smtp.googlemail.com
Make sure that your username and password are correct and that remember password is checked.
We’re almost there we just have to tell Outlook which ports to use – click on ‘More Settings.’
Select the ‘Outgoing Server’ tab. ‘My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication’ must be checked. Select ‘Use same settings as my incoming mail server.’ Then click on the ‘Advanced’ tab.
Make sure the incoming server is set to port 995, the outgoing to 465, check the box ‘This server requires an encrypted connection (SSL) and select SSL from the drop-down next to ‘Use the following type of encrypted connection:.’
Then click ok – all we need to do now is a test, and we’re done.
If we now click on the ‘Test Account Settings’ we should see the following. You can now send and receive emails on your pc, via your website/domain name using google email’s service.
We moved some sample domains over one month ago to test, and it has worked out very well.
On one domain twice we had what appeared to be a transient connectivity issue where Outlook said that the server could not be found, but it lasted only a few seconds each time.
So far we haven’t moved any clients over. We’re still undecided, and undoubtedly some will have issues with handing over the service to Google.
As far as our email goes, we’re able to forget about that and concentrate on building websites.
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