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Fun with G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work)

  1. Apr 4, 2017 #1

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    In an earlier thread, I asked about email providers to use with my own domain name. I finally took the plunge and signed up for G Suite a couple of weeks ago. It went fairly smoothly overall. A few thing confused me at first. I'm still ironing out some kinks related to other Google services that I use.

    I'll post my experiences in this thread. Feel free to join in, if you also use G Suite or are interested in it.

    Google assumes you're setting up G Suite as the administrator for a business with several users/employees, whereas I'm doing this just for me. At first I wondered whether I would have to create two accounts: one for me as administrator and one for me as ordinary user. It turns out I need only one account, username and password. I use different URLs for access as administrator and as user. During initial setup I simply told it that my "business" has one employee. The number of user accounts is important, because it affects how much you pay: $5 per user per month.

    During initial setup, it asks you for the email address that "you currently use at work." Don't use an address in the domain that you're going to associate with your G Suite account, even if you're already using that address with your current email provider (as I was). After you're set up, this address becomes your "recovery email address" in case you somehow get locked out of your G Suite account. So it should be an address that is not in your domain. I used my Yahoo address, that I previously had forwarded my domain email to.

    More later...
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2017 #2

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    I already owned the domain name that I wanted to use for my email, so I had to verify it to Google, that is, prove to Google that I really own it. Google gives you a verification code that you have to use in one of these ways:
    1. Add a TXT record to the DNS records on your nameserver.
    2. Add an HTML file to the root level of your web site.
    3. Add a meta tag to the <head> section of your home page.
    I chose to use method 1 because I don't want to lose access to my email if my web site goes down. Google provides instructions for adding a TXT record via the domain registration dashboard / control panel for many domain registrars including mine (Namecheap).

    However, it turned out, after reading Namecheap's own instructions for setting up G Suite, that my domain dashboard was not the place where I needed to add the TXT record! Namecheap runs two separate sets of nameservers: "default nameservers" (controlled via the domain dashboard) and "web hosting nameservers" (controlled via the web-hosting cPanel). Since Namecheap also hosts my web site, most of my DNS settings are done via my web-hosting cPanel, not via my domain dashboard, which in this case is mainly used for renewing the domain and holding my account information.

    Helpfully, my cPanel has a section for setting up G Suite. One widget let me paste in Google's domain verification code. It set up the TXT record for me, without my having to deal with the raw DNS records directly. Supposedly you have to wait up to 48 hours for DNS changes to propagate, but in my case Google verified my domain within a half hour or so.

    The takeaway here is: read the help pages at Google, your domain registrar, and your web-hosting provider (if it's not the same as your domain registrar), and figure out where you need to modify your DNS records, before trying to do it!

    I wonder what happens if you register your domain with one company and get your web hosting somewhere else? Which one do you normally have to use for verification?

    Next: steering my email to my G Suite account.
     
  4. Apr 6, 2017 #3

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    I'm leaving out some steps for setting up G Suite because I've forgotten the details, but they're pretty straightforward. Just follow Google's setup instructions. They'll probably change things at some point anyway.

    Eventually I had my G Suite account set up with one user (email address and password). I can log into admin.google.com to get to the administrative page for my "company", where I can grant or revoke privileges to myself as user, add new users if I want to pay for them, etc. Or I can log into myaccount.google.com to get to my Google account page and adjust settings there. Or I can log into mail.google.com to enter Gmail. At this point I could only see an empty inbox there.

    Now I had to arrange for my mail to start flowing to Google's mail servers instead of my web host's mail servers (which then forwarded it to my Yahoo mail account). This required editing my DNS records again, to replace the existing MX records with new ones that specified Google's servers.

    My Namecheap cPanel has a widget that's supposed to do this with the click of a button. After doing that, I went to the cPanel Mail --> MX Entry section to check the results... and found that they didn't match what Google specifies in its setup instructions! The primary mail server was the same, but the alternate servers were different. Google had apparently changed them recently and Namecheap hadn't caught up. But I could easily edit them on the spot in cPanel to make them right. Sure enough, within an hour or two, mail started to appear in my Gmail inbox and stopped arriving in my Yahoo inbox.

    The takeaway here is to not trust anything that tries to configure settings for a third party automatically. Check the results against the third party's documentation!

    Next step: authentication for outgoing mail.
     
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