What Does Google Apps for Your Domain Actually Do?

new_startpg.gifDear Lifehacker,

I've been looking into Google Apps for Your Domain, which sounds cool, but I'm confused about what it is and why you'd use it. If I sign up for Google Apps for Your Domain, is Google actually becoming the host for my domain, or just providing a bunch of services for it? What's the advantage to using GAppsFYD versus just vanilla Gmail and the rest? I have my own domain name that I use for my primary email address and my web site.

Signed, Unsure About Mixing Google and My Domain


Dear Unsure,

Google Apps for Your Domain is pretty cool for folks with their own domain names who want to manage a bunch of email/calendar/homepage users for it. To answer your question, GAppsFYD does not become your domain host, but it does provide a bunch of services, like Gmail, Google Calendar, a Start Page (a la iGoogle), Google Docs, Google Talk, etc. The difference between GAppsFYD services and free vanilla Google services is what you'd expect: your domain.

For instance, if your domain is thesmithfamily.org, using GAppsFYD, you could set up a bunch of users who get Gmail, GCal, a personalised start page, and chat all with usernames like [email protected], [email protected]. Your users would log in to a Google hosted control panel (which you can customise with a thesmithfamily.org logo), and all their email would get sent with their custom domain email as the From: address.

Here's a grab of what the domain control panel looks like to administrators:

gappsfyd.png

The advantage here is that you don't have the "hey look at me using a free email service!" @gmail.com address. I know, I know, you can send vanilla Gmail messages from any email address, but it comes through reading "on behalf of [email protected]" in some email clients, and that's annoying. With GAppsFYD, if you decide to move email providers away from Gmail, you can do so without changing or losing your domain address.

The disadvantage to GAppsFYD is that Google seems to roll out new features a little slower for it versus non-domain Google offerings. Google's awesome mobile Gmail app, for example, only works for straight-up vanilla Gmail accounts.

I've got GAppsFYD set up for two domains, and I love it. Basically you get all the goodness of Gmail et al. (storage, spam handing, etc.) with total portability, and if you're a domain administrator, you can easily manage and create other people's accounts, too. At the price of free, that's a pretty sweet deal for small businesses and organizations, especially considering that most web hosts charge for extra email addresses and that kind of storage space.

Like I said, GAppsFYD does not provide web hosting in the traditional sense; like, there's no FTP access to the server, for example. There is Google Page Creator, which has a pretty decent in-browser WYSIWIG web page editor and 100MB of space to upload photos and files, which is perfectly serviceable for a nameplate site. If you want full on web hosting, you can use a non-Google provider but still use GAppsFYD Gmail and the rest.

Good luck Googlifying your domain!

Love, Lifehacker


Comments

    I agree. Google for your domain rocks!

    I have set it up for a few people(low to average IT skills), and emphasise that their website and email addresses are in the control of whoever manages their hosting. With this tool, they can give out email addresses to their staff, family and friends. Edit their own webpages, and take control of how they want their site to look.

    Granted, the page editor is limited to templates, but the templates look great, and give the users the freedom to play, while still keeping it rigid enough to mean that they don't make an absolute mess.

    The potential for the person to up-sell to a 'real' hosting account is increased due to the fact that they build up the tenacity to edit their own pages (and may even buy dreamweaver and make their own), but reduced because hosting companies charge a fortune in comparison.

    I would even suggest registering a domain name, and linking it to a GFYD account and having a play before using it on a production site.

    Actually you can get mobile access to google apps for your domain email. on mobile device, go to m.google.com/a and install. Login is [email protected], instead of the gmail mobile app which only requires a username (since the domain is obviously gmail.com)

    I have 5 domain names
    This is one way this is working for my mother in law
    She takes a huge amount of photo's.
    She went on holiday for 6 weeks and took 2,500 photos.
    She would email them to everyone to see.
    So I brought her a domain name using her name through Godaddy.
    Set up an email account now with imap, now so she can get her mail either at home or on her laptop.
    You get the benefits of gmail's very good spam filtering
    I set up Picasa2 for her to store all her photo's,
    I have forwarded the web address to Picasa2
    Now she just sends us a email when she updates her photo's, This stops her clogging up the tubes on the internet with photos someones boring wedding.
    All this cost me was $18 for 2 years for the domain name.
    For the cost your not paying any support, and I have yet to hit a snag with this service .
    The other thing you look a bit more professional, if you send and email to people, yourname@my.com looks better than [email protected]

    g domain gives u a fancy email address and web address thats NOT blogger gpage etc. Its you.com
    The addons are just google stuff like calendar group talk with your @you.com not gmail.com
    Curiosly a google apps offers more to nongdomain users than users
    The above snapshot shows no picasa etc and to get it you need to open a google accnt with your @you.com address then use that address to open picasa accnt.
    why doesnt google include ALL apps in fyd?
    why not?
    i got inglesgarantizado.com for 10$ with built in calendar talk web page mail but then needed to open a google accnt same email though to get picasa groups and other great apps.

    A couple unfortunate/troubling differences: You can't use tabs in Start Page and you can't decided then to use iGoogle instead and still use your Calendar, etc.

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