You can get exactly the email address you want, no more firstname.lastname@example.org.
Backup – Many small businesses are using a cheap POP3 email hosting account. In most configurations, the storage size of the account is small and if you are using an email client like Windows Mail, Outlook, or Mozilla Thunderbird, you are just downloading the mail from the server to prevent your account from getting full. In this scenario, if you are only downloading those messages to a single computer and aren’t diligently backing up, a hard drive failure could cause you to potentially lose years of correspondence.
Spam filtering – Gmail has some of the best spam filtering available. It’s built into every Gmail account at no extra charge. You would likely pay more than $50/year for a quality anti-spam solution alone.
Administration costs – 5 years ago, even small businesses were hosting and managing their own email servers. Microsoft Small Business Server includes Exchange and is priced affordably for smaller offices and would allow them to have all the functionality that large companies enjoy regarding email and calendaring. Hosting your own server as a small business can allow you much control and functionality, but if you don’t already have an in-house IT staff to manage it, can easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per year for administration, patches, and unforeseen problems.
Google offers two basic hosting plans – Google Apps Standard and Premier. The setup is the same for both, but there are a few differences. Here we will take a look at those differences and briefly touch on what you need to know to set them up.
Price - Standard is free, Premier is $50/year per user.
Storage – 7GB per mailbox for Standard, Premier gives you 25GB per mailbox.
Number of addresses – While Premier allows and unlimited number of users and mailboxes, Standard is limited to 50.
Security – Premier gives you control over forcing SSL encryption and password strength requirements. With Standard, you have to use the Gmail defaults.
Integration – In addition to price and storage, this is the other big difference. While you can still set up Outlook or an iPhone or Android device to check any Gmail account, the Premier accounts add what are essentially full hosted Exchange services. This means that instead of just downloading your messages from the server into Outlook or your phone, all of your contacts, calendar, and email are synchronized in both directions. For example, if you add a new contact on your iPhone, it will show up on your home computer and laptop both running Outlook with the Gmail sync app. The same is true for calendar items, and sent items in your email. Can’t reference an email you sent because you sent it from your phone, and now you’re working on your computer at home? This is why – no synchronization both ways. If you need all your info available on all devices in all places or are a Microsoft Outlook user, Premier is most likely the option for you. If you have ever put off buying a new phone because you were afraid of getting all your contacts and calendar info moved over, this will solve your problems. Spend a couple of minutes keying in your account info on the new device and everything will sync to the new phone OTA (over the air) in just a few minutes.
Some of our clients have set up Google Apps accounts on their own and we have set up many. If you prefer to have someone set this up for you, call our office at (970) 226-1577 or email us from our contact page and we will handle the details. Most configurations take 2 hours or less, start to finish.
While it may be a little more involved than setting up a Hotmail or Yahoo account, setting up Gmail to host mail for your domain is not an overly complicated process. You will need access to the admin account where your domain is registered or hosted (think Godaddy.com or wherever you were searching for that perfect website name). As part of the process, you’ll need to prove that you own the domain by creating a DNS txt record and change your MX server settings (this tells the rest of the internet where email for your domain name should be sent) – there are detailed instructions for this on the Google Apps site for most domain registrars.
Once you have your email account(s) created, you can have your new account check your old account. This makes switching from an old email account easy. Moving to a new email address is a daunting task for many people because they think no one will be able to find them or maybe you still have 700 business cards with the old address on them. In just a couple of steps you can set up Gmail to pull any new emails from your other account, this ensures that if someone contacts you at your old address, it shows up in your new Google Apps email account.