Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Another Round?

 We eventually saw Google change their tack with The Return of the Google Apps Free Accounts. It was pretty unnerving to lose services which had been free for over a decade. Really the services are free anyhow: Email in Gmail, custom domains in Google DNS, cloud storage in Drive, basic web hosting in Sites and Blogger. Why wasn't there are a better migration tool? Google has been eroding the GA free for years and all we really needed was a migration tool to get like 80% migrated to Gmail etc and this push could have been more successful. But then again, how many users signed up for GA a decade ago and are still using it? I know we're free-loaders but really the "free" services are doing for Google what they're supposed to: Get users hooked on Google's suite of services.


</rant>

Dom617b

Sunday, 20 March 2022

The Party For Grandfathers' Free Google Apps Is Over

With the end of Google Apps free accounts I've been looking at what services end up where and Google is pretty well covering personal use with maybe a few asterisks particularly around email.

TL;DR 

Setup Email Forwarding in Google Domains by adding up to 100 email aliases.

Send an email from your alias in Gmail

  1. Generate your app password
  2. Add an email alias
  3. Confirm the address
  4. Change the "From" address
  5. Optionally set this address as default sending address once confirmed.

Use Google Sites or Blogger and add custom URLs and they will generate the DNS entries as needed.

<Rant>

Google Domains "is out of Beta" ... Uh what? I've been using Google Domains for a few years already and didn't realise it was a "Beta". It did mean they sent out promo codes to all their existing "beta" customers so we can get 20-30% off their regular price registrations

I took the opportunity to register a test domain to test out some of the changes for when the GA free accounts go away shortly. As far as DNS registration and hosting goes it's a pretty good offering. Not the cheapest, but does include WHOIS privacy, integration with website services, and up to 100 email addresses forwarded for free.

The website services is a handy integration including with free services both on Google Sites and on Blogger (i.e. this site). It automatically creates DNS records when you create custom domain. Maybe it's more intuitive for a lay person than an IT pro because on Blogger you click the option for "custom domain" and type in whatever you want and if it's in a domain under your account it just registers it? I guess? Not clear it doesn't tell you a lot which is maybe point - it's all very easy.

Email I was really struggling with because there seem to be a lot of variables. We're using plain old Gmail account and there's two parts to deal with custom domains: receiving and sending. The receiving side is simple - add an alias in Google Domains (or 100) and you're done. 

Sending is far more complicated which I chalk up to "we can't have nice things". In Gmail you can add an alias with another Gmail account and that setup is pretty easy "mymail1@gmail.com" can be added in your settings as an alias for "mymail2@gmail.com". To use an alias with a custom domain you have to give a mail server and you can use the Gmail SMTP but you need an app password. And you can only use an app password if you have 2FA on your account. And if you don't have 2FA you can use "less secure authentication". But that's a feature apparently getting dropped soon so if we follow all the caveats, it means you have to use 2FA and app passwords. There's Google docs all over the place - the above link in the TLDR I think has the necessary info. 

Compared to how easy it is to do one Gmail address as an alias for another this was a bit mind boggling to go through. I get it - Google wants to sell as many Workspace accounts as they can, and lots of other options just don't work in the 21st century because we ruined the Internet and Email with so much spam. 

Other options to consider 1) use a real mail client like Thunderbird and you should be able to specify your email and this is fine if you do this already or only infrequently care about sending as your custom email address 2) use own mail servers heck even Synology has apps to run mail services but still its pretty rubbish to deal with backups, certificates, spam blacklisting, etc. 3) pony up for Workspace which if this is work related its pretty cheap - but that's a bit silly for personal use (even Zoho and others). 

</Rant> 

If you made it this far you're either brave for reading that rant or clever for skipping it :) 

Ciao
Dom617b

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