Do you know you can use Google Apps to create and manage your business email account, for free, and on top of that you also get to use the friendly Gmail interface. Yes, you no longer have to get stuck to a crappy web mail interface. When you use Google Apps to manage your business email and use the familiar Gmail interface you can
- Access your email from anywhere provided you have the net access.
- Use Gmail’s advanced search features with your business email too.
- Use the threaded conversations feature to track email interaction.
- Stop worrying about taking backups each time you need to change your computer or format your hard disk.
- Create 50 email accounts under your own domain for free.
In case you are wondering using the Gmail interface means you’ll have an email that looks like “email@example.com” that’s not the case. You’ll have a professional email like “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and no, you don’t even have to host your website with Google in order to use their email service.
All you need to have is a Google Apps account. You can create an account by heading to http://www.google.com/a/cpanel/domain/new. You’ll need to be the admin in order to create a successful account for your domain name, and you’ll need FTP and control panel access to your web hosting account.
Please note before proceeding: your emails may stop coming during the transition period because it takes some time to propagate the changes throughout the Internet. Also, if you end up messing up with your email account (it shouldn’t happen though) the author of this article is not responsible.
After entering your domain name you get a form where you can enter all the related information. Carefully fill in the details in the form, and to begin, you can just fill in the boxes that are required. When you submit this form you get a form where you create your admin username and password. Create them and note them down somewhere.
The proceeding page is important. This is where you actually verify (actually this should ideally by the first screen, but anyway) that you actually own the domain. The less geeky way is to choose the first option. It asks you to create an HTML file of a specific name, copy/paste a string in it, save it, and upload it into your web hosting root folder.
Once done, you click “I’ve completed the steps above” and you’re done with setting up your Google Apps account. But it’s not over yet. Email in normal circumstances is handled by your web host.
In order to use Google Apps for your business email you’ll need to log into your web hosting control panel. Then you go to the Mail section. There are some web hosts that automatically create the needed MX records so that you just have to select Gmail as your mailing interface. But there are very few of them.
Wondering from where did the phrase MX records pop up? MX records, in simple words, handle email associated with your domain. There can be multiple MX records associated with a particular domain name with different priorities (something like, use MX record A as top priority, if A is not available, then use B, and so on). So in your Mail section, you’ll need to create MX records that specify to your web host that you’re going to use Google Apps for your email instead of its own email servers.
In the mail management section of your web hosting control panel you’ll see an icon to the tune of “MX Entries” or something like that. Go there. If you are hosting multiple domains then you’ll need to select the domain that you are using with your Google Apps account. If there are already some MX records you can either delete them or lower their priority. The highest priority is 1, then after that, 2, and so on.
For email routing, you can select Automatically detect configuration.
There is a section that says “Add new record” where you can add the priority and the destination. One of our domains have the following MX Records setup configuration:
(priority 1, 5 and 10) and it works like a charm.
Here is what Google suggests:
Once you have saved these records, you can check whether they’re working or not buy heading to http://google.com/a/yourdomain.com and logging in using your login information. If it doesn’t work, don’t worry, it will once your new information has properly propagated.