I’m Floating in the Clouds Now with GMail for Domains



I finally did it. I have untethered myself from my server based email. It’s something I had been thinking about for a very long time, but just never pulled the trigger. Two weeks ago The Gadgeteer server had a hiccup that made everything inaccessible for the better part of a day. That experience of being without my email caused me to stop dragging my feet and like Nike, just do it. So I did. Yay GMail for domains! Can you believe that I’ve had a Gmail account since the days when you had to have someone send you an invite? Well, I’ve had one, but I never used it. When I decided I would like to start sending and receiving my @the-gadgeteer.com, @ukulelereview.com and another domain through GMail, I thought I would need to do something with that original account. I was wrong. GMail for domains is a whole other animal. I had to sign up for a new account, which wasn’t a big deal considering it’s free (I like free), if you don’t mind a 7.2 GB storage limit, and some google text ads. If you need more space, no ads and some extra goodies, you can opt for the $50/yr deal. Right now, I’m trying the freebie version. I may upgrade at some point though.

Setup was simple as far as creating a new account on the GMail side, assigning addresses etc. But the task of actually switching my e-mail from the gadgeteer server to GMail, required a little bit of hocus pocus. Rob is my server sys admin magician, so he handled all that for me. And at the same time, he also switched his own domain to GMail.

I was able to migrate all my mail on the gadgeteer server (IMAP) into GMail relatively painlessly. I just installed Thunderbird and setup the gadgeteer and GMail IMAP accounts and dragged and dropped folders. Folders don’t really exist in GMail though, and will be converted into labels. Labels pretty much work the same way as folders though, so it hasn’t be difficult getting used to this new setup.

The best part is that this whole switchover is invisible to anyone emailing me. They don’t know I’m on GMail because all my mail comes from @the-gadgeteer.com or @ukulelereview.com. That’s the part that had caused me to hesitate moving in the past. Things used to be setup where the message by-line would say something like “From Julie@gmail.com on behalf of Julie@the-gadgeteer.com“ Not anymore though 🙂

So far I’m really happy with the switch and plan to follow this up with some more switches that will get even more things off my desktop computer and the  gadgeteer server and into the clouds, where someone else maintains the data / backs it up etc.

How many of you out there are totally in the cloud and how has it been working for you?

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Rob Tillotson January 12, 2009, 12:38 pm

    I’ve recently done this for my personal domains too, and for me the main thing driving it was a desire for two things: better spam filtering and server-side filtering that doesn’t require me to screw around with procmail any more. Having a good web interface is also a plus, and it still works with IMAP clients just as well as my former mail host does.

    The server-side magic to do this is just changing some DNS records. For most personal domains this is something you can easily do through your registrar or web host’s control panel. It doesn’t affect other services such as web hosting at all.

  • Jerry January 12, 2009, 12:55 pm

    Doing the same thing here…works great, especially for mobile.

  • Roscoe January 12, 2009, 2:36 pm

    I moved across the country a few months back—-and while in transit I wanted to be able to get web mail, so I forwarded all of my e-mail to an upgrade Yahoo account, figuring that when I landed and got organized—I’d switch back to Outlook.
    I’ll never go back. I too was worried about the appearance of my professional e-mail looking like “skimoil@yahoo.com”. With the cheap upgrade—–I can now get all from yahoo and copy all to my Outlook mail—-but I have no need for even that. I’m an old guy and even I could handle this, but probably would not have switched if I couldn’t do it myself. This works soooo well for me. I run an international business selling oil skimmers and separators—so the professional look and feel was deadly important.
    Works for me!
    Love being in the clouds.

  • Des January 12, 2009, 2:38 pm

    I’ve done it for my personal domain as well.

    I can now have catchall addresses again and rely on google to catch the spam .

  • Andrew January 12, 2009, 2:45 pm

    I have been setting this up for free for friends’ businesses. The setup is just wonderful and fairly painless. One thing that you might (or might not) like is that as you add users, you can automatically share documents, calendars etc. it really does a lot for people who can’t really afford exchange but want meetings, calendar and contact sync. Fantastic stuff.

  • Chris January 12, 2009, 5:42 pm

    Took me a minute to find info for the free “Standard” version. I had to click the “Compare To Standard Edition” link below the big blue “Free Trial” button for the premier edition.

    This is just what I’ve been looking for. I don’t know how I didn’t find it before now.


  • Matt Penning January 12, 2009, 10:30 pm

    Thanks for making the plunge and writing of your experiences with gmail for domains. I’ll have to make that plunge myself!

  • Zach January 13, 2009, 6:18 am

    I have been using gmail and google docs since early beta for both. I now have all of my domains going to and from gmail and love it. I have even started using an online backup service for almost everything.

    When I moved to a new home PC it took about 15 minutes to copy the few files I keep locally and I was up and running with all my emails, documents, and full backup still in place.

    I love the cloud.

  • Jake January 13, 2009, 9:36 am

    i have both server based e-mail (in the form of mobile me)
    and web mail(hotmail)

  • Tom Worley January 13, 2009, 11:51 am

    In short, long term user, extremely happy!…

    I’ve been using Gmail for domains now for exactly 3 years on my personal domains (as of last Sunday), I hardly ever delete any emails and I have them going back until day 1. Their servers are extremely reliable, I’ve never lost en email in 3 years. Very occasionally the web server front end slows down a little, but give them a few minutes and it’s back up to speed, really can’t fault it.
    Most amazingly is it’s abillity to catch spam, I get maybe 1 spam email every 2-3 months that doesn’t get labeled as such, and about the same that gets mis-labeled. They also have the anti-phishing warnings for many emails (99.99% of which turn up in the spam folder anyhow).
    I also love the calendering, I’ve got it syncing to my desktop and in turn to my iPhone. You can have multiple calendars for each person, and have nearly as many users as you want.

    Oddly enough, today we’ve been seriously looking at moving several domains at work over too. As a sysadmin myself, I can happily say that it takes all the stress out of managing email, works well for family as well as businesses.

  • forrester January 13, 2009, 3:07 pm

    Can anyone answer this question:

    I work for a church, and I would love to be able to use GMail for domains, if only so that my name@churchdomain.org doesn’t show up in people’s inboxes as being from “myname@gmail.com on behalf of name@churchdomain.org.”

    The problem is that if I used Gmail for our domain, I’d have to switch over all of our users to Gmail, and What A Pain That Would Be.

    So here is my guestion:

    I own a personal domain. Could I simply use Gmail for Domains for that domain, and change the “from address” to the name@churchdomain.org, and avoid all of that “on behalf of” mess?

    Please forgive me if this makes no sense. I’m only halfway through this can of Red Bull.

    • Julie January 13, 2009, 3:28 pm

      @forrester: I’m sure Rob (or someone else) will correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that if you use GMail for Domains for your @churchdomain.org address, all the people in your church that also uses @churchdomain.org will only have to update their mail client to point to gmail server (IMAP or POP). You can just go in and create accounts for them that match the name of their current account. It looks like you can create up to 200 accounts for free. I have 3 setup. It’s easy 🙂

  • Rob Tillotson January 13, 2009, 5:23 pm

    @forrester: Unfortunately you won’t get rid of the “on behalf of” by using your own domain in this case. This occurs whenever the From: and Sender: fields don’t match (Outlook is the only client that actually shows it though), and Sender: will always be the address associated with the account, whether that’s a regular gmail.com address or one in your personal domain. What matters is that it’s not “name@churchdomain.org”… unless of course churchdomain.org is managed by Google, and you’re using it to send the mail.

  • Rgrenader January 13, 2009, 8:08 pm

    My company did this over a year ago, signed the corporate email to gmail. Great service, very, very portable. Check out the Gmail mobile app for your smartphone.

  • forrester January 13, 2009, 10:27 pm

    Thanks Julie and Rob 🙂

  • Bigman606 January 14, 2009, 5:47 am

    I too have had Gmail since the “invite only” days and have taken to their office web-based apps. It’s pretty cool. My friends and I have been using their spreadsheet app for sharing and tracking information. It has a lot of the extra functions you’d find in M$ app and easily does the job. Access anywhere any time you have a net connection. The cloud is pretty cool for me.

  • JB January 14, 2009, 8:11 pm

    I started a new business 6 months ago and have been using gmail for domains from the start. This service works better than I expected for I have not had any problems to date.

  • Charlie January 21, 2009, 1:41 am

    For mails already downloaded to a local client (Outlook Express in my case) through POP3 – is there a way to export to Gmail? I, too, am interested in changing to Gmail for Domains going forward, but am not sure how I would be able to search my old, downloaded, emails.

    Thanks – great info from everyone, by the way.

  • Jessica January 21, 2009, 1:47 pm

    Thank you for posting this! When I switched my hosting to NearlyFreeSpeech a year or two ago, I was happy with everything about it except losing my email address (they don’t provide an email service). This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I just set it up for one of my domains, and if I’m happy with it, I’ll set it up for the other one, too. Hooray!

    • Julie January 21, 2009, 3:19 pm

      @Jessica: I’m still very happy with GMail for domains. I wish I would have switched years ago! 🙂 I’ve always considered myself a power user when it comes to email as I save almost everything. So far I’m not even using close to 1gb of the over 7gb of allowed storage. For that fact I’m saving things I would never have normally saved. Love it!

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