Tuesday, May 03, 2011

To Setup Or Not To Setup?

I know, that is a pretty vague question I pose as the subject of this post. To clarify, I am talking about a mail server. On my new server, I have been setting up a lot of things, but one thing I have yet to setup was a mail server.

I was torn because I really wanted to have mail from my new domain and without a mail server, that just isn't possible. First and foremost is that I have absolutely no experience setting up a mail server. You have to think about things like:

- the installation of the software for mail delivery (ie: Postfix, Sendmail),
- the managing of spam with software like SpamAssassin.
- the increase in traffic on your site due to email

As you can see, there are a lot of things to think about, and this short list is just that, short. So, in speaking with a friend today led to a suggestion which, in a matter of only a couple of hours work, I have implemented.

I have Ben Howarth of CodeGecko to thank, not only for the suggestion that follows, but also for his guidance in setting it up. I also want to thank him for being so infinitely patient with me as I can ask a lot of questions when I am learning something new. You rock, Ben!!!

The suggestion that Ben made was to use Google Apps Standard (Free) Edition. He quickly enlightened me as to the fact that it would use my domain and that all the emails would be for my domain. The sweet part is that Google handled all the email server end of it, which means you get Google's absolutely incredible spam filtering capabilities and scanning for attachments. It also comes with a bunch of free apps such as Google Docs, Google Chat and much more.

A quick search of the internet on setup guides for Google Apps landed me here, which proved to be a good "get you going in the right direction" guide. It at least got me to the sign up site, which it what I needed.

The sign up process was pretty painless and even the verification was cake (upload an html file to your site, visit it and then tell the setup you did it). When it came to the DNS setup on GoDaddy (where I bought my domain), that is where Ben really shined. He gave me a really good set of explanations into the inner workings of CNAME's, MX records and DNS as a whole, helping me to get a better grasp on it than I previously had.

Its hard when you are a geek and all of a sudden have to work with technologies that you have never messed with before, but its wonderful when there are friends who are willing to help.

After all was setup, Ben dropped another Easter Egg in my lap, telling me that instead of the nice long URL that Google gives you to access your email accounts, you can set it up for your domain. I really do owe him about a case of beer now. I have, with his guidance, set it up as a sub domain of my site. Once again, Ben ROCKS!

Once I get it all written up, I will have to post some details on the setup of MX records for Google Apps in GoDaddy as well as CNAME's. I am just having so much fun with all of this. Now off to the next setup and configuration task.


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