Like many cloud-based services, Google Apps gives website owners the ability to use their own domain names to run their web applications. The apps themselves are still hosted on Google’s servers, but they appear to run from your own domains.
In order to configure your domains to point to Google’s servers, you need to have access to your domain’s DNS configuration. How you accomplish that depends on your current setup. If your domain registrar and web hosting provider are the same, they will most likely provide a DNS editing tool for you. If the registrar and host are different, one or the other may control your DNS. Hosting providers like dedicated web hosting company 34sp.com provide full DNS control.
By default, most web hosts will instruct you to point your Nameservers to them, which means the host will handle all DNS. Some users, however, opt to use the registrar’s DNS services. Still others prefer third-party DNS services. Find out which one you are using and then login to the DNS configuration panel.
Terms You Should Know
IP address – Every website has an IP address associated with it. In some cases, one IP address may be used by several sites. For dedicated servers, they may have one or more. An IP address will take the following format 123.456.789.111. For example, on a local network you may have an IP address like 192.168.254.100. The quantity of numbers after each decimal may vary, but the number of sets is always four.
A records – An A Record is the “host record” that associates a domain name or subdomain with an IP address. The Internet, at its core, connects sites using IP addresses. Domain names add a bit of humanity to websites, and A Records link the two together.
CNAME records – A Canonical Name record is an alias for an A record. For example, mysubdomain.mydomain.tld may be associated with mydomain.tld. The subdomain is just an alias for the top domain. CNAME records can also be aliases for third-party addresses, which is what you will use with Google Apps.
MX records – MX stands for Mail Exchange and is the name for records used for email. An MX record determines how mail is directed to the server. If you are using your own mail server, you would direct it to your own domain. In the case of Google Apps, however, you will use Google’s mail server.
Before you begin your Google Apps DNS configuration, you should decide what domain and subdomains you want to use. If you have more than one domain for your site, it might be a good idea to use one exclusively for Google Apps. If you only have one domain, however, you can still assign appropriate subdomains. For example, you may have apps.mydomain.tld as your primary start page for Google Apps. To configure it, you will use a CNAME Alias. Just follow these steps:
1. Login to your domain’s DNS configuration panel.
2. Create a new CNAME record:
3. If you have also chosen to use DNS for Google’s domain verification, create a new record for that as well. Otherwise, skip this step.
Next, you will need to setup the MX records for email delivery. This assumes you will not be using your own mail server, so you should delete the MX records that point to your domain. If you wan to continue using your mail server, you should give those MX records a lower priority.
1. Create a new MX record.
2. For the record value, enter the domain exactly as it was given to you by Google (i.e. ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM.)
3. Create another record and give it the name and priority that Google specified.
When completed, you should have all of the domains with various priority values. ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.COM must be the top priority record.
When you are all finished, the DNS for your domain will look something like this:
|@||MX (MX Pref 1)||aspmx.l.google.com.|
|mydomain.net||MX (MX Pref 5)||alt1.aspmx.l.google.com.|
|mydomain.net||MX (MX Pref 5)||alt2.aspmx.l.google.com.|
|mydomain.net||MX (MX Pref 10)||aspmx3.googlemail.com.|
For more detailed information on how to setup Google Apps for your domain, consult the following articles:
Tavis J. Hampton is a librarian and writer with a decade of experience in information technology, web hosting, and Linux system administration. He currently works for LanternTorch.Net, which offers writing, editing, tech training, and information architecture services.