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!]

Business Email Solutions

Don’t let hosting woes slow down your business. Get a business email account set up with outlook exchange and let someone else handle the email headaches. Set up a small business email account with intermedia today!

Discuss - 40 Comments

  1. Martin says:

    Sounds cool, like the idea, just signed up for whenever it’s gonna be available for use.

  2. Anshul says:

    Oh man, I so want this.

  3. Poldo says:

    How’d you get an invite, anyway?

  4. […] Google Hosted Email – Derek reviews his experience setting up and using the service […]

  5. Martin says:

    He would probably received it from Google them self. I received an invite to Crazy Egg because I posted on my site that I would love to try it out…

  6. Jay says:

    I heard about their beta for this a long while ago but didn’t bother signing up… not too sure why I didn’t to be honest. I did recently get an invite from Microsoft to test out their similar service through Live Mail… it all works similarly to Gmail’s.

    But I’d switch to Gmail should I get an invite, I just like their interface much better, though I have to admit that Live Mail is much improved compared to regular Hotmail!

  7. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1025″]How’d you get an invite, anyway?[/quote]

    As soon as Google announced that they were testing, I dropped a request in. I assumed that the service was going to be reserved for large enterprises. The one example that I had seen was a community college integrating the Hosted Email into their own system.

    [quote comment=”1029″]I did recently get an invite from Microsoft to test out their similar service through Live Mail… it all works similarly to Gmail’s.[/quote]

    I checked that Microsoft Live Mail testing as well. Nothing appealing for me. I couldn’t stop the voices that kept saying “it’s Hotmail, it’s Hotmail”.

  8. Ron says:

    Also I have received the Google Hosted invitation.
    However there is one question that confused me.
    Actually I have my domain registered with DreamHost like you. But I can’t find out hoe to set the forwarding to my sub-domain, like: email.mygoogle.host.
    As you know, the link to your google hosted is somthing like: http://www.google.com/hosted/mygoogle.host
    Can you forward your sub-domain? how you set that?
    Plz help.

  9. Derek says:

    I wad under the impression that the service was reserved for the primary domain. Are you not the domain owner?

  10. Jay says:

    [quote comment=”1031″]
    I dropped a request in. I assumed that the service was going to be reserved for large enterprises.[/quote]
    That’s exactly why I didn’t request the invite, guess I should have not assumed that is was reserved for buisness only…

    [quote comment=”1031″]
    I couldn’t stop the voices that kept saying “it’s Hotmail, it’s Hotmail”.[/quote]
    Trust me, they’re there for me too, but hey, any other interface than what GoDaddy was offering will suffice.

    I submitted an app for Gmail, so I’ll switch when I get that… or if by chance they give you invites to hand out, drop my my way! 😉

  11. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1034″]I submitted an app for Gmail, so I’ll switch when I get that… or if by chance they give you invites to hand out, drop my my way! ;)[/quote]

    The other variable I’m sure that Google takes into consideration are the number of accounts you initially request.

  12. Jay says:

    How many did you request out of curiosity? The thing with Hotmail is that they give 40 (I think) right off the bat, which cuts out the guesswork because frankly thats more than enough. Only a few friends and family members have an @jump4jay account, honestly it only for the hell of it!

  13. Ron says:

    [quote comment=”1033″]I wad under the impression that the service was reserved for the primary domain. Are you not the domain owner?[/quote]

    Sure I’m the domain owner. What I mean is “how do you log into your 5thirtyone.com to receive the Gmail?”
    The default linking to your Google Hosted should be “www.google.com/hosted/5thirtyone.com”
    Can you forward a sub-domain like mail.5thirtyone.com to the default linking via the service of dreamhost provided?

  14. lisa says:

    [quote comment=”1039″]
    The default linking to your Google Hosted should be ”
    Can you forward a sub-domain like mail.5thirtyone.com to the default linking via the service of dreamhost provided?[/quote]

    Couldn’t you just set up a subdomain mirror? Dreamhost makes it really easy to set one up.

  15. Oompa says:

    I’ve been using Gmail Hosted for quite awhile, I like it. Although it could be better, I love it a lot.

  16. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1037″]How many did you request out of curiosity?[/quote]

    I requested 25 accounts upon expressing interest. I didn’t think I needed many. Everyone has an email address, who would want a @5thirtyone.com address?

    [quote comment=”1039″]”how do you log into your 5thirtyone.com to receive the Gmail?” The default linking to your Google Hosted should be “www.google.com/hosted/5thirtyone.com”
    Can you forward a sub-domain like mail.5thirtyone.com to the default linking via the service of dreamhost provided?[/quote]

    Ron the correct URL for logging into Google Hosted email is:

    http://google.com/hosted/yourdomain.com/

    I’m still not understanding the whole forward sub domain email. The option to forward email is in your DH Mail settings though. Any email sent to your domain that does not have a dedicated address setup will get caught by Google Hosted.

  17. Michael says:

    I like gmail hosted, and I’m glad I switched. You can’t beat free. A couple of notes; however.

    1) POP connections only allow you to use one client. Once I download messages to my laptop, I can’t get them on my home or work computers. The work around was to automatically forward all messages to another mailbox. One computer checks the original mailbox and the other checks the “forward to” mailbox. Luckily, I can still share SMTP so replies all look like they come from the original mailbox.

    2) POP and SPAM. The interface automatically marks things as spam without telling you. When you download via POP you don’t see any spam messages. I’ve found real messages marked as spam, but the only way to know this is to regularly log back in and check the spam mailbox.

    3) Mailbox size. Standard GMail size is somewhere close to 3 gigs and counting, but on hosted its stuck at 2 gigs.

    4) Innovation? I’m a little concerned that it does not support the increasing mailbox size and I haven’t seen integrated calendars yet. I suspect that it is on a different subsystem than standard gmail, and that it might take some time for google to integrate new features to the hosted system.

  18. Derek says:

    [quote comment=”1055″]1) POP connections only allow you to use one client. Once I download messages to my laptop, I can’t get them on my home or work computers.[/quote]

    Do you have Gmail set to mark items as read and archive after POP’n? I can’t recall off the top of my head whether or not that matters.

    [quote comment=”1055″]2) POP and SPAM. The interface automatically marks things as spam without telling you. When you download via POP you don’t see any spam messages.[/quote]

    Agreed. This is one downside to Gmail’s POP feature. I think that Google should allow users to specify whether or not Spam filtering should be ‘on’ or ‘off’ for POP users. You have to love that Spam filter though right? Of late, I’ve seen a 95% success rate for correctly filtered Spam.

    [quote comment=”1055″]3) Mailbox size. Standard GMail size is somewhere close to 3 gigs and counting, but on hosted its stuck at 2 gigs.[/quote]

    Google Hosting [testing accounts]. I’m sure the larger inboxes will trickle down from the standard accounts.

    [quote comment=”1055″]4) I haven’t seen integrated calendars yet.[/quote]

    Well we need to take into consideration whether or not Google will allow hosted users to utilize their login information for standard Google services. Because the Calendar service requires a Google account, integration with Hosted Email is non-existent. I would like to think that the option would be made available. We’re talking full cross account support though. What does user ‘A’ do if a Google Account already exists? Does Google offer an option to integrated Hosted Email account details within the Google Account settings?

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

  20. adam says:

    i guess the other thing that bears mentioning is that you can’t alias non-5thirtyone.com addresses.
    (i.e., x@domain.com > y@domain2.com)