10 October 2012

How to Set Up Your Domain

Many people come to me with a need to rationalise or unify their various online services e.g. they might have email with Yahoo, another one with MobileMe, a domain hosted on GoDaddy And a website hosted somewhere else. As of writing I believe the most complete solution for this purpose is Google Apps For Your Domain.

Google Apps For Your Domain is a suite of services offered by Google which you can use for your domain name to provide amoungst other things:

Exchange services (pushed and synced data):

  • Email: Full IMAP support, excellent SPAM protection plus ability to pull in email from other accounts, and send as if from them (once verified).
  • Contacts: synced across all the devices you use.
  • Calendar: synced across devices and ability to create aditional calendars and share them with individuals, groups or the world. 

It also includes many other useful services like:

  • Google Documents: and online document store with syncing apps for Windows, OSX,   Android and iOS which provide access offline.
  • Google Sites: basic but operational web publishing suite.
  • Google+/Picasa Social interaction and photo sharing

Domain Name
It all starts with a domain name. If you have one then you can maintain the same email address whichever services you use. This will incur an annual fee but to me it's worth it not to loose contact with people every time you change email provider.

Choosing a Domain Name
If you're lucky enough to have an unusual company or surname then you could use that or perhaps your (rough) location and name, interest or occupation e.g. cumbrianphotos.com. As always when publishing world-wide, be careful not to give too much information away about yourself or your family.

Registering a Domain Name
There are a miriad of registras available online, varying in price and level of service, not always rationally! GoDaddy is currently the largest but not necessarily the best. In the uk http://www.123reg.co.uk offers competitive rates.

For another computer to communicate with your domain it needs to be registered with a Domain Name Server. This is the 'glue' between your domain name and your Google (or other) hosted services Some registras will configure this automatically for you e.g. GoDaddy or you can add DNS management to your domain registra account (sometimes for a minimal fee). For more information about DNS see here.

Tying it all together
Once you have your domain you need to administer the DNS records to direct the various services for it. The Google Apps setup process will guide you through these steps. See this Google page or 123-reg page for more information.

Configuring Devices
Once you have your domain set up you need to configure your computers, phones etc (clients). The exact method will depend on the device but generally these settings should work. On Android it all happens automatically but in iOS you might need a little more tweaking:

  • Mail: On some devices/software e.g. Android, iPhone, Outlook (some versions) it can be configured automatically after you login with your email. Failing that use these settings:
    Port: 993
  • Contacts: Be sure to select contacts in the Exchange settings.
  • Calendar: Mac's OSX will configure this automatically but failing that: Go to calendar settings (cog icon top right) then click on the relevant calendar and scroll down to ICS link then copy that (right click, copy url). In your application look for a Subscribe function in calendar context and enter it there.

Spam Domains
If you find emails from your domain get filtered as spam then you should add SPF records See here For more information.

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