Use Google's Gmail as your mail system
It is now possible to use Google's gorgeous Gmail mail system with regular website hosting accounts. Google have opened up their servers to allow anyone with any email address to use the Gmail software, whilst retaining full compatibility with your regular email program, such as Outlook, Entourage, Mac Mail, etc. This is a free service from Google (although Virtual Creations charges a fee to sett this up - see below).
For example, it would be possible for a Virtual Creations customer, e.g. "Fred Smith" from WidgetsOnline.com, to have his website www.widgetsonline.com hosted with Virtual Creations in the normal way, but have all his email accounts (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc) hosted and managed by Google's Gmail. All incoming mail (and possibly outgoing mail as well if he wanted it) would pass through the Google servers. If he used Outlook as his email program, he would still be able to receive all his mail into his Outlook Inbox in the usual way.
Virtual Creations are offering to set up this system for our clients, for a small one-time fee.
What are the Benefits?
If you change from using the Virtual Creations servers to using the Google servers for your email, you can expect the following benefits...
- You can use the excellent Gmail web interface for reading your email (if you want to). But you wouldn't log into www.gmail.com to do this - instead you would log into your own version of Gmail, found (for example) at mail.widgetsonline.com
- Your disk space allowance for emails would increase, from around 200-900 Meg maximum at the moment, up to around 7000 Meg (7 Gig) per email address!
- The Gmail system offers probably the finest spam-filtering solution available. This means that all your incoming emails are checked for spam by Google's systems, and spam messages are automatically filtered out into a special spam folder
- Send virtually unlimited outgoing emails. Most hosting accounts have a limit on the number of emails that can be sent per hour. These limits are fine for everyday use, but not when you need to send broadcast emails to a large database of subscribers, for example. Google doesn't impose a limit, but it does impose penalties on spamming
- No more blacklisting. From time to time, many Virtual Creations customers have experienced issues with their email such that emails sent to particular people bounce back as undeliverable, or emails from some people never arrive. These issues are always resolved, but it can often take several days. This issue is called "blacklisting", is common to all web hosting providers, and is yet another way that spammers are disrupting our lives and costing us money and energy. Google's servers don't suffer from blacklisting issues, so such problems would vanish.
- Google Apps account. Setting this up automatically gives your organisation a free Google Apps account
There are a few steps involved in getting Google to handle your email, and they are reasonably technical (mostly to do with "MX records"):
- A set of changes needs to be made to your hosting account - MX records for your domain name need to be changed and a CNAME record needs to be added/changed
- A new Google Apps account needs to be set up and configured for your domain name
If you feel comfortable doing step 2 yourself, then the charge for Virtual Creations to do step 1 is A$50 (plus GST for Australian organisations). If you prefer Virtual Creations to do both steps, the cost would be A$100 (plus GST). These costs are once-only setup fees, not annual costs.
If you would like this system set up for your domain name, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details:
- The domain name involved (e.g. widgetsonline.com). If you have multiple domain names, please choose only one to start with
- A list of all email addresses associated with this domain name. Please nominate which is the primary email address on the list. For each email address, please indicate which ones are to be set up as separate mailboxes, and which are auto-forwarders to other email addresses. For mailboxes, please supply a password to set the mailbox up with.