What Do I Need to Get Started with Google Apps?
Google offers its productivity suite in several editions, and the one you signup for depends on what type of organization you are. Here’s the price breakdown:
- Google Apps for Business—$5 per user per month, or $50 per user per year
- Google Apps for Education—Free for grades K-12, colleges and universities
- Google Apps for Government—$50 per user per year
Want to know what you’re getting with an Google Apps account? Most of the main apps are available in each edition (Vault costs extra); here’s what else is included:
- 30GB Gmail and Drive storage (for each user)
- Custom email addresses for your domain
- Unlimited users (you can add as many as you need)
- 24/7 customer support
- Video chat, calendar, and document editing
- Business controls and security
- 99.9 percent uptime guarantee
If you’re signing up for a Google Apps for Education account, these additional points apply:
- No ads for faculty, staff, or students
- Other staff and volunteers might see ads
- 30GB storage per person across all the products
Other than determining whether you are a business, educational institution, or government entity, all you need is a domain name, email address, a secondary email address, and your favorite web browser.
Do You Have a Domain Name?
Google Apps requires a domain name to associate the apps with and you need to verify you are the owner or administrator. A domain name is a unique name for your website, often looking something like this: mycompany.com. Your domain name marks your unique site and is used in the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) you type into the browser’s address box to display your web page.
A domain name is required as part of your Gmail customization. The verification process helps Google ensure that only your organization uses the domain for emailing and other tasks. To verify the domain during signup, you need access to the domain’s DNS (Domain Name System) settings (which are available from and managed by the domain host), need to know the server that hosts your site, or must have a Google Analytics account for your domain. Google enables domain services for your domain name, but your account still remains with your original domain host.
If you don’t have a domain name, you can purchase one during signup from Google’s registration partners. It’s incredibly easy to do so, and the cost is very reasonable. As part of creating a new domain name, Google checks the name you choose against all the other registered names. If you choose a name that’s already in use by someone else, you’ll have to come up with another name or variation.
Google’s domain registration package includes a yearly fee, protects the domain against unauthorized transfer, and automatically configures it to work with Google services. It’s up to you to manage the settings for your DNS going forward, such as setting any functionality options required for your particular organization.
What’s Your Email Address?
During the signup process, Google asks you for a primary email address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. This email address becomes your login name for your Google Apps account. This is the email address others will see, so choose one that clearly identifies you as it relates to your organization.
You also need to add a secondary email address to use in case you forget your login information and need Google to email it to you again. The secondary email address should be outside of your Google Apps domain, like the email address you currently use.
What’s Your Favorite Browser?
If you’re concerned about being able to use Google Apps on a Windows, Macintosh or Linux system, don’t worry. Google Apps is platform independent, so it works with any system. All you need to run Google Apps is an updated web browser. There are many web browsers to choose from. Here are a few popular ones, one of which you probably use:
- Internet Explorer (Microsoft)
- Safari (Apple)
- Firefox (Mozilla)