Scott Hanselman

Considering Moving the Family to Google Apps

June 26, '07 Comments [35] Posted in Musings
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Google AppsI'm considering moving my whole family over to Google Apps.

Have any of you done this and how did it go?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:39:49 AM UTC
I personally enjoy Google Apps. I enjoy the free services that are provided, along with the easy to use interfaces. I'm currently reworking my site to allow for a more personalize branding per some of the suggestion's I've read on your site, however, some of the features that I personally utilize include the page creator (a simply, yet effective WYSIWYG page editor, that allows for easy CSS integration and clean HTML code), free branded g-mail - who can beat that, and a shared google calendar that is branded for your site.

Granted, most of this stuff is free by other means, but I really enjoy having a free place to host a domain with branded e-mail. It is hard to go wrong with Google if you just need some static sites for posts, gadget implementation, etc. Imginage a shared iGoogle site, that is the best way to explain the page creator.

Aaron
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:43:27 AM UTC
I moved my own domain a few weeks ago over to google, and I've been very happy with it. it's mostly setting DNS entries properly, and adding DNS entries for customized service URLs (i.e. calendar.yourdomain.com). Took less than an hour to set up, and only that because I couldn't quite figure out how to set up my dns entries :)
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:44:16 AM UTC
I dumped our Exchange server (of me and the Wife), and we love it. I dont have much control over my parents email etc (they use Outlook Express, and have only recently got passed the "mouse moves the cursor" stage).

I wouldn't hesitate tho, esp if some or most of your family is familiar with using websites etc.... (mine aren't - it's email only, setup to be click here, type type type, click here (dials, sends, disconnects)
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:53:10 AM UTC
I've found it nice when I'm on the go to be able to access certain "simple" documents from Google Docs. I've still found times where I need the additional functionality that only a fully fledged Office suite can provide. So as long as you don't look into it for an Office replacement, but rather as a helpful addition, you'll be happy you made that choice.

As far as communication goes, IMO, Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, GTalk) beats them all.

The only thing I get concerned about is security. I'm careful not to put my most sensitive documents online.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:19:40 AM UTC
I moved my fiancee and I over to Google Apps. Let me just say, it's been one of the best things ever.

It took her a little why to get used to the concepts of GMail (she was used to deleting messages and filing in folders). We use the Google Spreadsheets to collaborate on our weekly budget and for the wedding budget. We use Google Calendar to share events with one another. It's really helped us out quite a bit, I couldn't be happier.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:23:59 AM UTC
I moved over our small businesses a few months ago and I've been very happy. No problems, easy to set up, ect.

Definately recommend it.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:25:39 AM UTC
I did it and love it:
see:
http://weblogs.asp.net/rosherove/archive/2007/04/27/how-i-stopped-kicking-myself-and-started-using-google-apps-for-domains.aspx

Roy.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:28:16 AM UTC
I have been using Google apps since it was in beta. Having a place to have my docs such as simple spreadsheets that my wife can get to is nice. Also, after years of having an exchange infrastruture at the house, I finally switched over and have been letting Google manage my mail for some time now. I could not be happier. I save some money not having to run a computer 24x7x365 and they are certainly more reliable.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:31:01 AM UTC
Go for it. I'm using it since the first day, and I setup several accounts for my brothers (we are 7) and my mom (she use it with Outlook Express)

You don't have to worry for the uptime, spam and backup. Excellent!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:58:29 AM UTC
I already have a google account with gcal, gtalk and gmail. My regular mail forwards to my gmail account. If I switch my domain to google domains is there any way to keep that account? Or do i have to start a new one?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 2:26:54 AM UTC
Dan: start a new one, and forward from the old one, to the new one. Well, thats what I do :)
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 4:15:21 AM UTC
+1
Did it, & loving it. Though the start page lags behind iGoogle in cool new features...
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 5:38:30 AM UTC
Add another vote from me. I've been using it for personal and business for over a year and it has been superb. Dead simple to setup and admin. Also their premium and business plans just rolled out with some new features such as email migration assistants etc.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 6:20:53 AM UTC

I see complaints about 500 messages per day limit and Google did not disclose this upfront to the users.
500 would be enough for most users but the limit seems to be also for the enterprise setup.
I wonder what other surprises are hidden.
Abdu
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 6:30:31 AM UTC
I have this for my personal domain, and the only bummer is that I can't move my GMail messages easily to this domain - I'm switching as soon as I can do that.

There are hacks (e.g. http://www.gadgetguy.de/2007/04/20/finally-move-your-gmail-mails-to-google-apps-for-your-domain/), but then you lose metadata like labels.
nexusprime
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 7:26:34 AM UTC
My wife and I each have our personal Google calendar and a common shared 'home' Google calendar.

Great if you both have a busy life and forget to mention appointments to each other. Go for it.
Michel grootjans
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 8:59:49 AM UTC
What is the advantage (other than "personal branding") of setting up on your own domain? Why not just run everything through the existing Google tools such as iGoogle et al?
Eddie Groves
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 9:06:07 AM UTC
Generally, I'd say it was an idea whose time has come. Personally, as a fairly heavy-duty Excel user/developer, I have to say I'm not impressed with Google's effort in that department thus far. And Page Creator could use a bit of work (like table support that's easier than pasting in HTML, for example).

I haven't got far into it yet, but I'm looking seriously at Zoho. At the very least, their spreadsheet is miles better than Google's: pretty much complete Excel without array formulae and macros. The UI is streets better.

But accept that I'm not "normal" in this regard!

I'm in the early throes of setting up a distributed project with a small group of like-minded idiots visionaries. I think we'll probably go with Zoho.
Mike Woodhouse
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:29:57 PM UTC
I'm the lone tech in a household of 4. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to get the Mrs to start using Google Docs and Spreadsheets last week. I expected quite a bit of fighting, but after about a 20 second demo she quite happily went about her work and then later thanked me as she now has access to those documents from any computer she happens to find herself at. As this is school work being done part time, that is a huge deal for her - she can now do short 10 minute sprints of work from the laptop or while on breaks at work, and then when she gets into the office everything is exactly where she left it.

I do have one gripe, however: Notes. Google notebook is nowhere nearly on par with Microsoft OneNote. I've long considered OneNote to be the single greatest product that no one knows about (which they messed up in the 2007 release, but I digress). I'm now experimenting with Backpack to fill this void as I attempt to move more of my thoughts off of a desktop hard drive.

In all, there are two desktop applications that I've had a hard time migrating to a web solution: Outlook and OneNote. Outlook is hard simply in that it is a Calendar and Email client, which many other solutions fail to do well - at least at the same time. Google's solution is one of the most elegant, in my opinion, but not perfect. OneNote is, so far, one I simply haven't been able to replace.

Scott - Any thoughts on mind mapping software? Something else I'd love to get online where I'd make more use of the models. This again falls into the OneNote bucket for me. The simple elegance of screen clippings (Windows-S) in OneNote has spoiled me and made it nearly impossible to migrate away, though I am willing to try.
Vince
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:26:00 PM UTC
What are you looking to gain? My gf and I each have google accounts and we share our calendars & docs with each other. If you're not looking to do more than that I don't really see the point of moving. I personally enjoy having my website and the control that comes with it and if i wasn't lazy and had more time I would try to find or code this stuff to integrate with my site instead moving it elsewhere.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 3:04:50 PM UTC
Out of curiousity - what does everyone here think of the following concerns:

- Big brother. Do you really want some business having access to your entire computing existance? Do you not concern yourself with datamining? With emails never being deleted (after all, you think you delete things, but are they really?). With courts ordering records? Are you a political terrorist, do you speak negatively of US government on a public forum - maybe you should be detained somewhere while they sort it out?

- Security. The more people use a particular service to store their personal stuff - the bigger jackpot it becomes to hacker and identity thieves. Do you trust Google to inform you of information leaks? Do you trust Google at all?
What is their confidentiality policy? Does it hold up in China or are they willing to bend rules a little to gain access to a new market?

The above is just a sampling of concerns. I am just trying to measure the amount of thought that went into it when making a decision to utilize Skynet :)
Vincent Evans
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 4:34:16 PM UTC
@Vincent: I would use Google Apps for casual stuff only. Mostly stuff like collaborating on the grocery list and family events with the spouse.

The fact that Google doesn't delete anything is a concern. You will never be sure if something you did on their site will never be used against you in the future. I do not trust them 100%.
abdu
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 4:34:42 PM UTC
Vincent - Valid points all, and it ultimately it comes down to trust. Today I (mostly) trust Google. I trust them more if I have a premium account as I can turn ads off and what not.

Vince - Regarding online MindMapping software, try MindDomo: http://www.mindomo.com

Henri - I want:
* to maintain all their current email and their same non-gmail email addresses without forwarding rules and tricks.

* to stop worrying about backups and storage

* to have some family branding
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 5:01:45 PM UTC
Google Apps are really nice.

There are few problems though. The biggest one, I think, is SMTP limits.
Sometimes Gmail refuses to send your emails. That may (or may not) happen if you send emails to 50+ recipients/day.
But if you don't use CC excessively and don't mail too many similar emails - you would probably be fine.
That's unlikely that your family will trigger these GMail SMTP spam filter.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 6:05:25 PM UTC
I use it for my family and love it. I'm the only one in the family that consistently uses spreadsheets, but the calendar and email are used by all. I've noticed some issues viewing attachments through the web. Also, some gmail applications like viewers and notifiers don't support gmail on a custom domain (including, curiously, Google's own personalized homepage module - I've contacted Google about the issue but they haven't yet resolved it). The biggest advantage for me is getting the freedom to change hosting and dns without effecting your mail/application solution.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 7:57:24 PM UTC
I tried it and switched back to my hosted exchange - everything was pretty smooth - except I hate how POP access to Gmail works - drove me nuts, Need to leverage POP for Windows Mobile 5.0 to receive notification.
Rob
Tuesday, June 26, 2007 10:34:35 PM UTC
Hi all,

I moved over to Google apps a while ago, and I too am really happy with it. For me, the big things were:

1) I was able to use Gmail's spam/virus/etc filters for email and now I don't have to maintain them myself. Google will always do a better job of trapping spam and keeping their services up to date than me.

2) I could entirely remove all traces of email services from my web host machine, freeing up the resources for other things, removing another possible spam relay point (depending on how slack I am) and removing one more entry point to the machine from the outside.

3) Shared resources such as calendars, docs, etc are obviously a huge plus, and something that I don't want to have to maintain myself, Google Apps saves me from doing that.

4) Webmail. Again, I didn't want to have to set up and maintain/update a third-party webmail application on my server. Gmail is not only a better interface, but I don't have to worry about maintaining it!

5) Uptime & accessibility.

Those points were enough to convince me to move, and since moving I haven't looked back. All the above is for my own personal site and a few other sites that I host for other people. I'm not sure that I'd use it for an entire organisation (depending on the needs of the users), but for personal sites and general use it's an absolute winner.

Cheers :)
OJ

PS. I'm not a huge fan of this "Live Comment Preview" feature :)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 12:10:21 AM UTC
I dont really use google apps that much, however I am irritated by the fact there are no folders in gmail. Apparently they use labels instead which I found on this blog, still not the same thing
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 2:52:15 AM UTC
I think it is a pretty neat idea, but I'd like for the "beta" bit to get dropped before I move a business into it. When I go to gmail it still says "beta". I just can't bring myself to host a business on that platform. Google needs to strap the gloves on and get in the ring already...enough with the beta disclaimer.
Jason
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 5:27:41 AM UTC
I've been using Google Apps and love it. Twenty-five (I think) email addresses at 2Gb each all for free and the best web based email application around in GMail. Plus the integration of all the other apps from Google.

I keep telling my friends to get themselves a domain name, maybe one with their name.com and hook it up to Google Apps for Domains. You get all that free email hosting space and for just the cost of the domain name per year $7.95. Great way to dump something like a hotmail.com or aol.com email address.

Also sharing Notebook, calendar and docs is a big plus.
Diego
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 5:41:23 AM UTC
Did anyone here have issue with Yahoo mail treating email from Google Apps (mail) as Spam?
I have had Yahoo treat my email as spam more than once. The contents of the email were not "Spamy" either.
Veryblue
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 8:27:37 AM UTC
I moved partly to it.
my biggest problem is, that i have 3 domains. my own, the one of my father and the one of the family of my mother. and google apps does not let you manage more than one with one account. and so you have different calendars and so on.
with just email it's not that bad, since you can add other google apps email accounts with the pop utility. but when you send, you send "on behalf of" what i really does not like.
but if they would fix that, i would move all to that. it's great.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 9:39:39 AM UTC

Did anyone here have issue with Yahoo mail treating email from Google Apps (mail) as Spam? I have had Yahoo treat my email as spam more than once. The contents of the email were not "Spamy" either.


Yes, especially if there is a link or an image in the email message !

About Google apps: they improve all the time. The Spreadsheet was pretty simple when it started out, and it would only import very basic excel sheets. But I tried a more complicated one a while back, and it imported it completely with makeup etc without an error. Very nice !


Wednesday, June 27, 2007 6:53:52 PM UTC
I moved to Google Apps while they were still in Beta and have loved them from the first day. Meaghan (my G/F) saw me using gmail etc... one day and was intrigued enough by the speed and coherency of the apps to ask for a demo. She converted pretty much 20 minutes later and has been on GApps ever since as well.

The things I like about Google are that their interfaces are clean and snappy and that they aren't tight-wads when it comes to free storage space. They encounter errors from time to time and aren't perfect, but IMHO the least worst of what's out there in the future of the online world.
Thursday, June 28, 2007 6:23:04 AM UTC
Another vote for OneNote as a killer app. It's supurb as both an orgainizing tool and at keeping documents synced between computers with absolutely no user effort.

It's also interesting to compare Google Gears and the infrastructure Google's building to handle remote-online/local-offline storage with the synchronization features already present in OneNote. Imagine if Microsoft extends OneNote style synchronization of all Office apps into Live. You could have both the existing rich offline client, a simpler online web client, and automatic synchronization - possibly the feature set required to maintain the franchise.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.