Did you know that you can set up email accounts from your own domain using the power of the user-friendly Gmail browser-based email system? This means you can have any email address you want provided you own the domain name, and you'll be able to access it from anywhere a browser is handy. Setting it up is a little intimidating, but if you follow these steps, you should be in the clear. (And you only have to set it up once!)
As an example, let's assume you own the domain your-domain-name-here.net and your name is Greg. You could easily set up firstname.lastname@example.org as your email address.
Remember, you need to own your own domain! If you don't have one, you can always buy one from us, and we'll set it up for you. :)
We briefly considered creating our own email service, but a few things halted that process. First, we wanted to keep our costs (and therefore the price of S-Drive) low; we also didn't want to clog our support center with email inquiries, as this is the main support topic for hosting providers; finally, we've left it open, so that you can use an email service you like. We happen to think that Gmail is a particularly good one.
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Setting up a Google Apps account
- Go to the Google Apps Gmail page and click the button that says Get Started.
- In the About You section, enter your contact information.
- Enter your domain name in the input box and click Submit. The rest of the application form will appear below.
- Agree to the terms of service below and click I accept! Create my account.
Note: If you are already logged into a Google account, you'll be asked to switch to the new one at this point.
- Next, you'll see a window that says "How would you like to set up Google Apps?" Choose the option that works best for you. For this tutorial, we'll be doing a custom install. Click "Go custom" to move on.
You'll need to work your way through a somewhat lengthy wizard now (as indicated by the line that says "Click Next to get set up now (takes less than an hour)").
- Click the Next button to get started, and get ready to click it a lot more. Just follow the on-screen instructions and you'll be just fine.
- Shortly into this process, you'll need to verify that you are the owner of your domain. You'll accomplish this by downloading a file that Google provides, uploading it to your server, and then clicking the link in this step of their wizard.
Let's pause for a second to explain how to do this—specifically, how to put this file on your domain to ensure that the link will work.
Verifying Your Domain Name
Click the link in the Google wizard that says "Download this HTML Verification file." This will start a download of a file that looks something like this: google2827f5df19545a84.html
Now you need to put this file in the root folder of your domain.
- If you're using S-Drive, the easiest way to do this is to go to the Dashboard, click the Site tab, and click the button that says Upload a File. Browse for the file and click Add File.
- If you're not using S-Drive, you'll need to upload with an FTP program, like Direct FTP. Just connect to the server that hosts your website, select the root folder of your website, and upload the file with the method your FTP client uses.
Okay, you're all ready to click the link in that Google wizard!
Now, back to the wizard
- Click the link in Step 3 on the open wizard page, then click the Verify button in the wizard. You should now see a message that declares your ownership confirmation a success! But we're not done yet.
- Work your way through the rest of the wizard until you get to a page that says "Set up your Apps". Ensure that Gmail is selected (and choose any other options you'd also like to set up) and click Next.
- Keep working through the steps of the wizard until you encounter a step that asks you to change your MX records. These are the mail server addresses that your domain uses to process email. Google will need you to use their mail servers for your Gmail account to function. Let's take another detour to set that up.
Changing your MX records
Google provides their own mail servers, which you can read about here. Switching your records to the ones provided on their page differs depending on whether you use S-Drive or another hosting service.
- If you're using S-Drive, sign in to your S-Drive account here, then go to the domain management page here and click Manage DNS Settings under the domain name you are using. You'll need to get Google's MX records here and enter them into this page so that your DNS setup looks similar to this:
- If you're not using S-Drive, you'll either need to sign into your hosting provider's control panel and change the records yourself, or contact a server administrator to take care of this for you.
You can get more help from Google here. You can also choose to change these records later, so if it takes a while, you can still finish setting up Gmail. Your email won't work until this is taken care of, however. Most likely this part of the process will take a while, so put in your support request and then head back to the wizard!
Back to the wizard again!
- Work your way through some more steps in the wizard, setting up your other applications (Docs, Calendar, etc.) as you go. Note that some steps you may encounter (billing, mobile apps, etc.) are optional, and you can click the "Do this later" button.
- Pretty soon, you'll finally reach the end of the set up! You'll see a screen that looks like this:
Now you can click the Dashboard button at the top of the window to access your Google Apps, including your email account settings. Once your MX records are changed, you'll be able to use your Gmail account through your own domain! You can find the link to your account by clicking the Email icon on this page and clicking the link shown next to Web address.