Setting up Google hosted email under your own domain

I’ve decided to consolidate my email accounts and am attracted by the idea of outsourcing it all to a big, available company with lots ‘o bandwidth. Thinking Google Apps or Microsoft Office Live. With more than a handful of domains spread across a few web hosts — plus a bunch of personal email accounts, it’s tough to keep on top of them. Plus, I tend to abandon email addresses to keep a step ahead of spam.

For a while, I was impressed by the spam filters of Yahoo, but recently spam bots have been successfully bypassing their filters, since they send messages from individual users’ infected PCs. But that’s another topic…

Anyhow, I took a domain that wasn’t being used much immicom.com, and thought it would make a good test, because I didn’t have a mail server set up for it anywhere, and my friends have been raving about Gmail spam filtering, so:

Step 1: sign up for a Google account, sign in.

Step 2: go to Google Apps and indicate a domain you want to manage in Google Apps.

Step 3: select the free “basic” setup.

Step 4: indicate you want to use hosted email.

Step 5: Now it gets a bit more technical, because you have to change DNS server settings. It’s not so hard. DNS just tells all the other servers on the internet what “IP address” (just a unique number) matches your domain name. It’s kind of like calling 411 infomation to look up somebody’s phone number when you know their name but not their phone number. Computers need to do this each time you type in a website address.

First you need to know where your DNS server is and determine if you can access the DNS settings. Just go to your domain registrar (where you paid to get your domain), e.g. GoDaddy, networksolutions, whatever. If you don’t know, just got to whois.sc and type in your domain. They’ll tell you where your registrar, your website’s IP address, and also where your DNS servers are.

Step 6a: In case you can control your DNS settings. For example, if it is managed by your web host (the company hosts your website), usually they provide a web control panel to make DNS changes. Or if you manage the DNS in your own server. Just make the MX record changes in step 7.

Step 6b: In case you cannot control your DNS settings. You have the option of taking control of your DNS. This is what I had to do. How? By telling your domain registrar to point the world to a different DNS server that you can access. Most likely your domain registrar even offers DNS management that you can access as a value-added service at no extra charge. If so, sign up for it (all I had to do was click a YES box and they automatically pointed to their own DNS servers), and then add an A record to it like this, so it directs web traffic back to your web host, otherwise your website would cease to be available:

immicom.com. A 209.11.248.102 (and some other bits here)

Have you got any subdomains in use? If so, add a CNAME record to the DNS, for example the “subdomain” (www):

www CNAME immicom.com

Step 7: tell the world what server hosts your mail by adding or changing the MX records in your DNS, so it points at Google. Instructions here. These are the MX entries to add in your DNS settings:

MX Server address Priority
ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 1
ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 5
ALT2.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM. 5
ASPMX2.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 10
ASPMX3.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 10
ASPMX4.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 10
ASPMX5.GOOGLEMAIL.COM. 10

There. Now all inbound email will check with your DNS server which tells it to go to Google, and they’ll direct it into the inbox associated with your domain. By the way, Google gives you up to 100 inboxes.

You can even send email from Gmail with your domain on it (@immicom.com instead of @Gmail.com) now. Looks pretty professional.

Biggest benefit: you know your sent mail will not get blocked by other ISPs.

 

 

 

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