5ThirtyOne – Google Hosted Email

5thirtyone email - google hosted

Since registering 5ThirtyOne.com with DreamHost, I’ve despised the SquirrelMail interface. By forwarding all incoming mail to a personal account, I’ve managed to bypass any unnecessary interaction with the interface. While some users may prefer the simplicity and stark layout options, I prefer the familiar interface of my personal Gmail account. Fortunately, Google Hosted dropped an invite allowing me to register and setup 5ThirtyOne for the hosted [Gmail] service. I’ll walk through the painless transfer [DreamHost to Google], basic customizations, and final thoughts.

Some of the following may bore you. For that reason I’ve provided a mini index to navigate:

Welcome to Google Hosted

Before going willy-nilly with the idea of Google hosted email, understand that standard accounts are no different from personal Gmail accounts. Aside from the custom logo and the “powered by Google” moved to the footer, the average user wouldn’t tell the difference. Wait, I guess the new username@5thirtyone.com in the top right corner is different. Rather than highlighting the similarities, a brief run through of the differences will suffice.

5thirtyone email - inbox

  • No tabbed interface for jumping between your hosted Gmail account and Google Calendars.
  • Hosted Gmail account credentials do not work with Google services that require a ‘Google Account’.
  • Administrative access can be granted to normal accounts on a per user basis.
  • No option for invites. [Might have been a sweet feature to pass out hosted accounts.]

Again, aside from a few minor details, Hosted accounts are really no different than general Gmail accounts.

So I’m hosted, now what?

So you’ve managed to get your foot in the door and have the Hosted Email ‘Dashboard’ up on your screen. Now what? To the person thinking “duh, redirect your domain email to Google Hosted” you are correct! No reason to get squirmy here. The process is quite simple [aided with the necessary documentation from Google of course].

The key to a smooth transition is locating your Mail Exchange (MX) settings (usually under ‘Mail’ settings, ‘DNS Management’, ‘Mail Server Configuration’, or ‘Name Server Management’.). For DreamHost users navigate to DreamHost Control Panel > Mail > MX. Click ‘Edit’ next to your primary domain after which you will be presented with a screen similar to the one below. Notice the warning message? Incorrect values will prevent email from landing in your account.

mx mail settings

As documented by Google, enter the correct Mail Exchange values for your account which can be found on the Dashboard MX Records page. Note: Google states that the transfer may take up to 1 business day for the MX settings to go into effect. Personally, received mail began landing in the inbox almost immediately. The ability to send mail may take longer.

Subtle customizations go a long way

While you’re sitting around waiting for full account functionality, why not familiarize yourself with the ‘Domain Settings’ [read customizations]?

domain settings

Very basic customizing options which allow Google to retain much of minimalism familiarity of Gmail while allowing domains to accentuate the smallest detail(s). Negligible details to some, while just enough for others:

  • General Information: Your domain name and contact information [for situations when users need an admin contact].
  • Sign in page: Customize the sign in box background and border colors.
  • User your own fancy logo: Probably the best part of customizing. Create your own 149 x 59 pixel graphic.
  • Advanced settings: These settings rely heavily on your Mail Exchange settings. Gmail ‘Chat’ and ‘Catch-all’. Chat amongst fellow Hosted Email users. In addition, have all emails sent to your domain without an actual address caught by your admin address.

Basic indeed right? A bit of a change from the standard Gmail interface.

I am root – Gmail Admin

Google Hosted Email administrators have a great set of options for keeping domain email accounts in check.

  • Create users: Self explanatory. Create individual accounts for users. Specify first name, last, address@domain.com, and assign a specific password or generate a random password for users to change after their initial login.
  • Admin rights: Assign administrative rights to select users. Only do this for trusted users.
  • Nicknames: Assign additional addresses to a single user. Example: Messages addressed to y@domain.com and u@domain.com can be configured to land within z@domain.com.
  • Mailing lists: Simple and effective method for creating mass mailing lists for your domain. Create a mailing list address and add select users.
  • Monitor: Monitor email account quotas and last user logins.

Personal thoughts on Google Hosted

All the features and functionality of a standard Gmail account wrapped in a nice “custom” package. My personal score pitting the two against each other:

  • Paid hosting vs. Google Hosted: +1 Non-Google.
    Security and privacy wise, an included email or dedicated email host, is a far wiser choice. No peaking bots scanning emails for targeted text ads and the like. As my good friend from UNEASY put it: [using Google] is like letting someone always look in your bedroom window.
  • Interface & intuitiveness: +1 Google
    Once you familiarize yourself with the standard keyboard shortcuts [or Gmail Macros GM userscript], there’s really no going back to something like SquirrelMail. Keyboard shortcuts, filters, and labels aside, with the power of Google search under the hood, is a comparison of SquirrelMail even necessary?
  • Spam filtering: +1 Google
    Who’s going to deny the fact that Gmail’s Spam filters are one of the toughest in the industry? As stated earlier, emails sent to my domain were configured to forward to my personal account. Despite having DH’s built in spam & virus filter active, spam messages continued to slip through. Thankfully Gmail’s spam filter cleaned up the mess that DH filters dropped.
  • User account quotas: +1 non-Google
    In all reality, giant mail box quotas and a users ability to maximize data usage are negligible topics for casual email users. However, because this is a comparison, the point goes to non-Google hosted email for the simple reason that hosted plans usually allow administrators to specify a users email size. Google Hosted are limited to a paltry 2GB.
  • Playing all might root: +1 Google
    Setting up separate users with Google Hosted is a breeze. Specify a users name, email address, and assign a random password. Period. No unnecessary clicks, or drop down menus. Remember the username limit for standard Gmail accounts? Non-existent. You can create single letter / numeral accounts like z@domainname.com.
  • POP usage and bandwidth: +1 Google
    Similar to standard Gmail users, Google Hosted users have POP access for retrieving mail. Bandwidth usage due to file retrieval may not dent most users bandwidth allotment, but every MB counts right? Why utilize your own bandwidth when the stuff grows on trees on the Googleplex farm?

Google wins 4 to 2 in my book. How will Google Hosted score for you? Where do you stand on Google Hosted email and would you switch if the opportunity presented itself? If you’re interested in adding the service to your domain, check the Google Hosted page for instructions. [Digg it!]

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Discuss - 40 Comments

  1. Derek says:

    Adam are you referring to the ‘Send mail as’ feature? I’ve tested – with success – sending mail using another service / domain that was forwarded to my hosted account.

  2. adam says:

    no, i mean, i can’t forward my junk mail aliases to sunburntkamel.yahoo.com or similar. they have to be delivered to an archgfx.net address

  3. Just signed up. We’ll see if they pick my name up for an invite. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time now. That is, having either @yahoo or @gmail host my emails.

    The only thing that held me back with @yahoo is that there is no ability to setup multiple Identities (like you can in Gmail, Outlook and/or Squirrelmail)–unless you upgrade to their Pro plan. But thats besides the point of having a free account. However, I do like Yahoo Mail Beta’s UI vs its predecessor.

    With Gmail, it provides Multiple Identities. But I just haven’t gotten used to the way it organizes mail. I guess I’m pretty Outlook-ed out when it comes to that one. That is, having the ability to use folders. Anyways, we’ll see how this Google Hosted invite goes.

    Great writeup.

    PS. This is the first coComment-comment I’ve written. Let’s see if the service truly does wonders =)

  4. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1170″]With Gmail, it provides Multiple Identities. But I just haven’t gotten used to the way it organizes mail. I guess I’m pretty Outlook-ed out when it comes to that one. That is, having the ability to use folders. Anyways, we’ll see how this Google Hosted invite goes.[/quote]

    There’s actually a great Greasemonkey userscript that allows Gmail users to do anything within their accounts using keyboard shortcuts. The script expands on the default keyboard shortcuts by allowing users to jump between labels and or label emails. Search Userscripts.org for “Gmail Macros”.

  5. Thanks for the link Derek. I’ll take a look at it in a bit.

    Back to Google Hosted. So I got the invite and signed up. Haven’t gotten around to switching my MX records yet but I noticed that there’s no easy way to do email aliases.

    True you can do it via creating an actual mailbox user. Then forwarding all their emails to the respective forwardee but thats just too much. I hope they iron this part out in the future.

  6. […] Link. Switching to google hosted mail. […]

  7. kurniawan says:

    Hi ..
    I also like google hosted domain.
    I am testing with my domain ….

    However I am not been able to download using eudora pop3 access.
    would it be possible to show me step by step to do this .. in eudora ?

    the username would it be : myname@mydomain.com or myname@mydomain.com@gmail.com ?

    what abt the pop3 server ? pop.gmail.com ? pop3.gmail.com ?
    what abt smtp server ?

  8. Derek says:

    POP setup is the same as the standard Gmail accounts.

    Username: xxx@yorudomain.com
    POP: mail.gmail.com
    smtp: smtp.gmail.com with Authentication

    Reference the Google Gmail help documentation and make sure that you’ve enabled POP in your hosted account settings within each account. These accounts are essentially rebranded Gmail accounts.

  9. […] Scoot over to 531 for a low down on this. […]

  10. […] Note that this is for Media Temple. If you have Dreamhost, Derek has a nice tutorial on how to set it up there. […]

  11. Sharon says:

    Just signed up for this and I agree with you 100 per cent. I especially like the fact that the spam has dropped.

  12. devesh says:

    There’s one more thing with this… You cannot send or receive files over 10MB – that’s their data limit per email.

    Me being a print designer, I need to receive or send huge files over sometimes via email… unfortunately doesn’t cut it for me 🙁

  13. […] when it was first opened, i read derek’s post, and signed up for gmail hosted.  I found out then that i couldn’t set up email aliases to […]

  14. […] year ago, I experimented with Google Hosted – 5ThirtyOne – Google Hosted Email – and soon moved and began managing all of my email accounts using Google’s services. Why? […]

  15. […] to try it (if), he’s posted quite a comprehensive (and technical) review of his experience:  http://5thirtyone.com/archives/218/trackback Bookmark […]

  16. […] Derek, owner/author of 5ThirtyOne.com got a chance to review this firsthand and until I’m personally invited to try it (if), he’s posted quite a comprehensive (and technical) review of his experience: http://5thirtyone.com/archives/218/trackback […]

  17. john says:

    How do I use gchat with my hosted account?

  18. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”51892″]How do I use gchat with my hosted account?[/quote]

    You simply sign in with your username@hostedaccount.com address. You’ll want to make sure that Gchat is enabled from your hosted account control panel.

  19. ivan says:

    And does anyone mentioned that you can also access your email from email clients like Thunderbird via IMAP?