Google Apps for Work is a great service for both businesses and individuals alike. With access to documents anywhere you have internet access, powerful online webmail and the ability to edit all kinds of documents there is no doubt that Google has outdone itself on this service.
Personally, I have been using Google Apps for some months now, starting on their free 30-day trial. To begin with I was not convinced I would like the service, or even use half of the features, but it is safe to say this is not the case. The original reason I was drawn to Google Apps was a fairly trivial one. I had begun to become inundated with spam, and my current webmail service did not provide a very good spam filter. Eventually I got fed up of this, and having heard that Google’s webmail service had an excellent spam filter I took off on a journey to discover if this was true.
To get setup, whilst not overtly complicated, did take a little time. In order to use the service I had to own a domain, and be able to verify that I was the owner of said domain. Luckily this was not a problem for me. Verifying my ownership of the domain required me to change some DNS settings to values provided by google. Google provided detailed instructions on how to do this for various different companies, including my own, making it incredibly easy to do. After this I was able to continue on and begin the setup of my emails. Google, as usual, was one step ahead. They include a useful import tool to be able to import your email directly from another provider. I was somewhat skeptical about this to begin with, since I have had bad experiences with import tools previously, but I needed my emails brought over. After plugging in the details of my old mail server I hit go and waited… and waited… and waited…
The process of importing emails was not a quick one. In fact, for the two users I had it took almost 24 hours (though admittedly it was several gigabytes worth of data). I was impressed, however, when I went in to look at my emails. Google had helpfully tidied up my inbox and sorted emails into several categories: Primary, Social, Updates and Promotions. Needless to say, this was enough to curb my annoyance at the relatively long time it took to port everything over. To date, I have not received any of the spam that I used to get. I’m not sure that I have actually had any spam at all…
But enough on the email side. As a techie I enjoy messing about with settings and finding out the capabilities of things, so it wasn’t long before I was knee deep in the various settings that can be changed. One of the things I found most interesting was the ability to manage Android devices. There are a large quantity of settings on what devices are allowed to do and access, which are probably great for businesses. It also allows for separate work profiles to be set up on phones so that users who want to use personal devices for work purposes can separate out their personal information from their work, whilst also allowing IT admins to ensure that work data is kept secure on the phone.
Something else I recently discovered was the ability to add other domains to your account, and use email addresses from these as aliases to your primary email address. The process involves pretty much the same as it did when I first setup my domain, with verifying I owned the domain using DNS settings. After this was completed I was able to use these domains as I did my primary domain.
Another service that Google Apps includes are their Google Drive, with 30GB of storage, and free storage of high resolution photos. I find this particularly useful for backing up my programming projects, among other things. It is also fairly easy to upgrade the storage amount as desired. With Google Apps for Work Unlimited you can also get unlimited storage, as well as access to their Google Vault and added insights and controls for your organisation’s use of Apps.
Apps also allows you to create websites using any domains you have registered. Google’s suggested use of this facility includes intranets, team project sites and customer portals. Although I have not used this feature personally, I have bee told by people who have that it is incredibly easy to use and administrate.
To save on having to buy a subscription to Office 365, Google also provide document editing services such as Docs (similar to Word), Sheets (similar to Excel) and Slides (similar to PowerPoint). All of them are incredibly simple to use, and can be used online, no matter what computer you are using. I find it to be a somewhat nicer experience to use these than their Microsoft counterparts simply for the fact that they feel less bloated and just work!
To sign up yourself, check out the 30 day free trial