Free Email with your own Domain

As a freelance developer, I found it's more professional to have your email under your domain name. It's not just promoting your brand name, it is also advertising your website for free!

However it is not that easy to find a cheap email solution that just works. I've used several services in the past and suffered for the reasons mentioned below.

Today I will describe how to get a free email account with your own domain and how to setup the whole thing. As a requirement, you need to own a domain name (of course!) and have access to the dns settings.

We will use a combination of Zoho Mail and Gmail.


Before proceeding with the Zoho setup, we have to own or create a Gmail account. When ready, proceed with creating a Zoho account:

 

Zoho setup

At the moment of this writing, Zoho offers free email for up to 10 Users, using a custom domain. Visit the zoho registration page and go for the free option:

 

Then enter your domain name and your personal details:

The zoho account is almost now complete:

Now click "Proceed to verify domain ownership". To verify your domain I suggest adding a TXT record in your DNS settings. Select TXT Method:

Follow the given instructions to add the TXT record to your dns settings. When ready, click the verify button.

Awesome! Now add a user for your email and skip the groups setting. Then, go to the MX Records page. Click "Proceed to Point MX".

You will now have to enter the following mx records to your dns. Also remove all other existing mx records.

We skip the steps about email migration and mobile access. Click "Proceed to Access ZohoMail".

Now, go to your mail inbox and go to the settings. Then select Email forwarding and POP/IMAP and apply the following settings:

As you can see, we are forwarding all our emails to our gmail account. We also delete the copies from the zoho inbox to prevent exceeding the space limit. Since gmail has a bigger size limit, this would be the first one to reach the limit, but we don't want that.

Then we disable the POP Access and enable the IMAP Access.

 

Gmail settings

We want to use gmail only as a storage medium, therefore we have to configure it to send mail as our domain email.

Open gmail and go to the settings, and then to accounts and import. Select "Add another email address you own" and enter your name and your domain email.

Next, we enter the smtp settings of our zoho account:

And finally, confirm your email address.

If you enabled forwarding from zoho mail already, the confirmation email should be received in your gmail inbox.


Mail client

Now this is the easy part. You can either read your emails in gmail on your browser, or use a mail client. For the mail client you have to use Gmail's settings. Here is an example:

Name: Dimitri Savvopoulos
Email: ds@dimsav.com

Incoming server (IMAP)
host: imap.gmail.com
port: 993, SSL
username: email@gmail.com
password: gmail-secret

Outgoing server (SMTP)
host: smtp.gmail.com
port: 465, SSL
username: email@gmail.com
password: gmail-secret

Here are some screenshots about setting up Mail.app in OS X:
 
 
The password in the box above is not important. Click create and you will be forwarded to the advanced settings as seen here:
 
 
As we see, we use Gmail's smtp server instead of zoho's. The reason I do this is to make sure all mails I send are stored in Gmail's sent folder.
 

5 Reasons why Zoho & Gmail

 

1. Up time - Lost messages

This is maybe the worst issue I've experienced in other providers: to not be able to get your emails, or to send one because the service is down. A mail service has to be trustworthy, and zoho/gmail have good reliability to providing quality services.

2. Spam filter / Filters

Most email providers comes with a crappy spam filter. I remember I even tried once to setup a mail server in one of my dedicated servers. What a nightmare... Gmail has one of the best spam protection mechanisms out there. So use it!

3. Space size / Full search

Again here, we use Gmail's storage. 15 GB are enough to never delete an email again. Also, using Gmail's excellent search tool, I am sure you 'll find the mails you will be looking for.

4. Imap / Customer support

As we saw, both Zoho and Gmail provide imap support. If you have trouble with zoho, their support team is friendly and will reply to your message even with a free account. If you have trouble with gmail, the solution will be probably online somewhere.

5. Price

This setup uses both free services of Zoho and Gmail, so what is there more to say?

 

That's it!

This is how my current email setup looks like. I hope this small tutorial will make your life easier, especially if your are looking for a new email solution.

What about you? Do you have an alternative to suggest? Write in the comments below :)

Thanks for reading!