Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting around the aforementioned AHBL / GoDaddy pissing match

OK, you're stuck in the middle of the pissing match.  What do you do?

Maybe try Google Apps.

I'm usually pretty wary about this sort of thing.  I don't want to waste time, I'm leery of cloud-based 'stuff', and 'free' services are often anything but.  So I did some homework, and here is what I found:

Apps is (supposedly) to custom domains what Gmail is to personal domains.  In fact, it seems that there is no difference between a Gmail account and an Apps account - except Apps email 'comes' from your own domain name.

For example, in Gmail, I am "titam@gmail.com".  In Apps, I am 'titam@titam.com'.  Cool.

Aside from that, Apps is just Gmail.  Sure, you do get Calendar, Drive, Docs, etc.etc. thrown in for good measure, but for the purposes of getting off GoDaddy email and on to something else, the Apps mail service is what we really need right now.

I've used Gmail for a while now to back up my GoDaddy email.  So I know how Gmail works.

I can't say I like the Gmail interface better than the GoDaddy interface, but I'll probably get used to it.  I don't like how the threading somehow seems to get reversed in Gmail.

(You do get occasional spam-like messages from Google, but some judicious tagging should take care of that.  I hope.)

There are other quite nifty features to Apps:

1.  It's FREE.  Can't beat free.  Ad-supported, naturally.  $5/user/month to kill the ads, but at least you get a bumped up inbox size with that.

2.  Inbox size is 10 Gb (free) or 25 Gb (paid).  Pretty big.

3.  Apps supports multiple domains.  Way cool for people with multiple domains and email addresses to manage.

4.  Each user can have up to 30 email addresses from any of the registered domains. Reports are that they generally use the correct "From:" email address when you reply, which is important to me.

Bonus: thanks to the GoDaddy SOPA spat, there are lots of guides on how to ditch GoDaddy and go Apps.  Fili Wiese and ChooseWhat for starters.

If you're not sure, try this review from Entrepreneur Magazine.  It's pretty pro-Apps, but does point out some things that may rub the wrong way.  I think Google has overview webinars on the home page, too.

I haven't done this yet.  If I do, I'll try to remember to update.  (If I run into problems, I won't have to remember, because I'll be compelled to rant about them.)  I'm just scratching the surface, and the more I scratch the more powerful Apps looks - maybe too powerful for my own good.

[Update]:  OK, I tried it.  Here's the glitches.

-  If you have 2 domains, everyone will have email addresses at both domains.  For fonda.com and austen.com, jane@fonda.com always has the corresponding address jane@austen.com.  Not usually a big deal, but might be.

-  If you have 2 domains, email from the secondary will always appear to come from the primary.  When Jane sends email from jane@austen.com, it'll show up as "jane@fonda.com on behalf of jane@austen.com" in many email clients.  Cool if austen.com is a subsidiary or something of fonda.com - NOT cool if you are attempting to keep two businesses separate and not associated with each other.

-  For users with multiple email addresses, Gmail only supports one signature.  If Jane sets her signature to be "Jane Fonda" and sends using jane@austen.com, her sig is still "Jane Fonda".  Not cool if Jane has different contact or business info for the two different email addresses.

Moral:  If you don't mind mixing and matching, consolidating things under one Apps account is OK.  If you're trying to keep things separated, don't do it.


-  Don't yet know how to synchronize Contacts across different Google accounts.  Attempting the import/export process - even in "Google format", and between Gmail and Apps - mangles the contacts so badly they're totally unusable.  And this is Gmail to (effectively) Gmail!


-   You can synchronize them by sharing Calendars across various accounts.  Lots of fiddling, but it'll work.  See my post later on about this.

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