Whether you want this as a standalone email solution, else to compliment your shared, virtual private or dedicated server, GA saves buckets of time and kicks spam into touch.
This tutorial takes you from initial sign up to configuring DNS and retrieving email on your PC or Mac.
What is Google Apps?
In a nutshell, it's pretty Gmail. Or rather, it's Gmail, except that instead of 1address@gmail, you get to use unlimited-addresses@your-domain.
Why Google Apps?
For a start, I'm cheap and it's free. (Well, Google Apps Standard is free.) Then there's the multi-gig storage, that familiar Gmail interface, the bundled calendar and other G-wares. But what I really like is this lot:-
- simple setup
- POP & IMAP options
- superb resource saving
- immediate hassle-free spam control
Let's look at those points in a bit more detail, ‘cos they're worth it.
Setting up GA takes 10 minutes, or maybe 25 the first time, with this guide and the links. And it's darned simple to do. For sure, easier than configuring a mail server like Courier or Dovecot.
This isn't Hotmail, it's Google Apps. None of that john1973@prettyHorrible.com. Use your domain. In fact, use email@example.com, because there's a catch-all facility too.
POP & IMAP Options
Personally, I'm not a big webmail fan. I like my mail kinda like my pub – local. With GA, besides the remote access, we can POP or IMAP.
For webmasters, the most important reason to use an external mail mod is maybe this one: to filter every last bit of VPS resource towards your web sites and blogs.
And here's the big bonus. Have you ever set up SpamAssassin? Yikes! Betcha don't want to have to go through all that again. With GA, near as damn it, spam is a non-configurable non-story, full-stop. Do nothing, be spam-free, and spend more time on the beach. For many, this is the #1 reason to use GA and not bother with your own mail server. Besides that, spam is a resource hog.
I daresay there are other reasons. Lemme know.
How to Setup Google Apps
There are 2 methods. First, let's look at what I do which, fortunately, is the hassle-free method.
For most of us, including small to mid-sized businesses, the freebie service is superbly sufficient. And, I may add, a big cheers to the almighty G for a great ging-gang Googly gift. Cool sarcasm aside, briefly, I appreciate it.
Google Apps Premiere vs Standard Editions
Dunno. I'm freelance and have never set up Premiere for a client. If you employ a few dozen people, enjoy Premiere and care to let me know, I'll add some detail. I did read somewhere that they add some API's, so that's nice.
Signing Up to GA
Check Administrator, Enter your domain name and click Get Started
On the Sign up for Google Apps Standard Edition page, fill out the administrative details and click Continue.
On the Create your first administrator account page, Choose a username, a password, and Continue by accepting the T's & C's.
Verify Domain Ownership
Directed to your GA Dashboard, next to a warning sign you'll see a message ..
“To activate Google Apps services you must verify that you own your domain – somedomain.com.”
.. and next to that, a link to Verify domain ownership, so click through that.
On the verification page, under Choose verification method in the drop-down menu, you have 2 options to proove you own your domain; either by creating a CNAME record, else by uploading an html page for Google to check.
To keep it easy:-
1. Upload an HTML File
This is simpler. Unless: either you have a domain name but no website, else you cannot access the website backend; in either case, skip to the CNAME option, applying those settings to your domain registrar account.
Click the HTML option and Google generates a code.
Now, crack out a standard html page template or, hey, just use this:-
…and in the ‘body' section, as I've pinpointed above, add Google's code.
Save that file as googlehostedservice.html and upload to your site root.
If you want to get all complicato, you can instead opt to ..
2. Create a CNAME Record
This is fairly easy, tho' it can require a little webhost-specific research ‘cos the process and jargon varies from host to host. Google spell it out for some hosts, so I suggest you take a look at this.
For a general idea, watch this video.
- Not all shared hosts allow users direct CNAME access. If you can't find them, maybe you have to make a special request, then waitttttt.
- If in doubt, check out your hosting provider forum or, hey, just set up the html page as above.
- CNAME's take up to 48 hours to propogate. The email option takes maybe an hour, in my experience.
Verify Your Verification
Whether you chose to claim domain name ownership using the html page or a CNAME record, don't forget to tab back to the Google Apps page and click on Verify, under the drop-down.
Accessing Email with Google Apps
Access your new GA account by heading to https://www.google.com/a/yourdomain.tld, swapping yourdomain.tld for your domain.
If the domain hasn't been verified, probably because the process needs more time, you'll see a notification. Try again later.
When it has been verified:-
Click on Inbox (in the top menu, so not the Email link) to check your mail (or personalised Gmail), and maybe send some test mails.
And customise whatever other GA settings to suit.
POP or IMAP to Your Mail Client – Outlook, Thunderbird etc
POP. IMAP. What Gives?
Give or take, blessed if I know! But these splendid folks do, so thank you very much:-
|Post Office Protocol||Internet Messaging Access Protocol|
|Best if you use only one computer to check email||Best if you use many different computers to check your email|
|Downloads your email to the particular computer you are checking it on||Your mail is always on the server|
|Allows you to keep a large backlog of email messages only limited by the size of your computer.||You are limited by your mailbox size quota for how many messages you keep, although you can archive old messages and save them onto your computer manually.|
|Does not have a web interface (Some webmail companies, such as Yahoo, will let you check POP mail)||Has a web interface. If you are using NCF Webmail, you are using IMAP.|
|New messages are downloaded in their entirety, you have to wait for the message to download.||New message headers are downloaded so you see all your mail faster, the message you want to read is not downloaded to your computer until you click on it.|
Hey, I'm not kopping out on the instructions. Google's instructions cover a bunch of email clients, and they have some pretty pics too.
Do this lot:-
- From your Google Apps Dashboard, click on Inbox
- Now in Gmail, click on Settings in the top menu
- Click on Forwarding and POP/IMAP
- Next to IMAP Access, checkmark Enable IMAP
- Save Changes
- For your specific mail client IMAP setup instructions, click here.
Ditto above in the POP section. Google's instructions cover a wide range of email clients, and I can't improve on them, plus they've got pretty pics.
Booting Up Next ..
So that's the email sorted. And for webmaestros there's no more than a trace resource footprint on the VPS.
In Moving Day! How to Move Your Blog or Site we'll work through the best procedure for a smooth transition to your new server, be it shared, VPS or dedicated.
I'll wrap this VPS Bible series with an appendice or two, linking to a handy bunch of Linux resources and administration guides geared to maintaining your Nginx-powered web server.
Meantime, here's that index ..