Google Apps

Do you use gmail? We do, and we love, love, love it! I have personally been using it since back when you had to beg someone for an invite. At first, I used it as a spam box, and used it for any site that required an email address to login/signup. Over the years, I’ve started to use it more and more, because I love the spam filtering, and go anywhere capabilities.

I first heard about google apps a couple of years ago. I liked the idea of being able to use my domain completely with gmail. After looking into it briefly, I wasn’t convinced that it would work well enough for my main personal mail, so I passed it by.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I decided that I wanted to move serve-you.net’s mail away from any of our other servers.

Rather than setup another server to handle this and still be a one legged solution, or spend substantially more for a redundant solution, I decided to look at google apps again.

My criteria was pretty simple. I wanted this domain’s mail to be completely segregated from any of our networks, and I wanted redundancy. I wanted a solution that would work from anywhere (webmail, mail clients, blackberry, etc), and I also wanted the ability to have access to multiple accounts from a single login.

I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out the free edition of google apps. You now get all of the features of the normal gmail service for your domain. Plus there’s all the other stuff I’m not really interested in such as calendars, docs, sites.

Back to the mail, you can create up to 200 accounts, and each get 7gb+ of storage. You can create as many aliases on each account as you want.

So after setting up an account and testing it, I was pleased enough to migrate over. Google provides a windows app to migrate mail over, but this didn’t really work for me, so I decided to do it manually by setting up imap on each account, and adding them to thunderbird. From there I just dragged and dropped messages to their new homes. This took several hours to do.

Once the mail was all migrated into the new accounts, I had to tackle the issue of accessing multiple accounts from one login. To do this I decided to use a combination of forwarding and labeling. I setup forwarding for each account I wanted access to, and had them all forward to a single account. Then I created labels for each account, and set a filter for all mail sent to that email address to be labeled as such. For example, all mail to administrator is labeled as “administrator”. I color coded the labels for easier visualization.

The last thing that I needed to do was to create multiple accounts, so that I can send mail as any of the addresses that I have forwarded to the main account.

It’s taken a little bit of getting used to, but I am very happy with the end result. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Why you might ask, would a hosting company who provides mail solutions, be promoting an outside mail service? Because we are a hosting company first and foremost. Our services are 100% geared around web hosting. We offer mail services simply because it’s a standard practice to have mail and web in the same place. We also offer a hosted email package for those who prefer it.

We know that the services that we provide are excellent. I personally feel that google’s mail services are a great compliment to any hosting plan. We will happily help any customer get setup using it if they wish.

What do you think about google apps?

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