After several hours of scouring the internet for much needed help, I walked away frustrated at the very small amount of information available.
If you have been thinking of setting up Google Apps on your own webhosting plan (e.g. GoDaddy, DreamHost, etc.) but were held back because you were confused as to how the process exactly worked, you’re not alone.
In a nutshell, Google Apps allows you to use the same features Google offers (gmail, docs, calendar, start, sites) for free using your own webhost account.
The benefits of this are several:
- Your email address won’t spell out the ubiquitous “firstname.lastname@example.org” but instead use your own (using my site as an example: “@itstartswithken.com“) for a more personalized feel.
- Managing all those email addresses you have across different email providers becomes more streamlined, organized and efficient.
- You eliminate the issue (From email@example.com on behalf of firstname.lastname@example.org) that comes up when you’re consolidating all your email addresses with a standard Gmail account.
- All your communications (gmail, docs, etc.) are SSL encrypted by default.
The process on Google’s end is fairly straightforward. There are two steps for this migration to be painless: 1.) You need to be able to change your MX table settings and 2.) you need to be able to change your CNAME values. Please note however, that only STEP 1 is needed for Google Apps to work. STEP 2 is only needed so you can have a customized URL link to each of Google Apps services.
Having setup the CNAME records to my site, typing in http://mail.itstartswithken.com links you to your Gmail login window (as of this writing, there are five services offered in which you may customize the links: calendar, docs, gmail, startpage, and a site page). You are free to switch it up a bit, so you’re not required to use “mail.domainname.com” or “calendar.domainname.com“.
I do want to clarify one thing, as this confused me in the beginning, as it has a lot of people before me.
Google Apps IS NOT hosted on your website. What Google Apps does(Gmail in particular) is change the MX records so that any mail sent to your @domainname.com address gets delivered to Google’s servers. Notice I did not say forwarded. None of your email will ever touch your website’s email servers.
This bears mentioning that any email addresses you have already set up on your webhost will cease functioning after you change your MX records. You will need to set up a similar email address system on Google Apps once up and running…
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