So let’s say you’re starting up a website, for example, a website that sells things using Big Cartel. You decide that you want to use your own domain instead of one of their sub-domains and Big Cartel instructs you to forward your domain to them. This makes things nice and easy but wait, Big Cartel doesn’t support e-mail hosting!
But how are we going to use e-mail with our own domain when the domain is being forwarded to a server that doesn’t support e-mail?!
A lot of people are not aware that you can forward your e-mail to a separate server than the server that you are hosting your website at. You used to be able to use Google Business Apps to use Gmail for your own domain’s e-mail for free but now they charge for those services. Luckily there is a website that offers the same kind of service for free called Zoho! Zoho offers a lot more services than e-mail but for now we’ll just focus on that.
I’m going to assume that you have already forwarded your domain to a hosting service such as Big Cartel. Also note that I’ll be using Namecheap for my domain registrar so the directions for your’s may be slightly different but you should get the idea for the most part. So let’s get started!
The Zohomail ID is going to be your e-mail handle for your domain. So here we are creating email@example.com.
Next, Zoho is going to ask that you verify that you own the domain.
Here’s what Zoho’s directions say to verify your domain:
The general steps to validate your Domain using CNAME method are listed below. If your Specific provider is listed above, you can use the link to follow the specific instructions for the provider.
- Log in to your account with your Domain registrar. (Your Domain’s Administrative DNS Host).
- Open your Domain Management Page to update the DNS Records (DNS Manager or DNS Control Pane or Advanced DNS editor).
- Locate the option to add CNAME records (Generally found under DNS Records, you can also consult the help page of your registrar in case you are not clear).
- In the Name/ Host/ Alias/ CNAME add the code generated in Zoho zb********
- In the Value/ Points To/ Destination field add zmverify.zoho.com
- If the TTL is editable, reduce the TTL to 300 seconds or the minimum possible value recommended by your Registrar.
- Click Save or Add Record option to save the CNAME Records.
So here’s what my domain settings looked like in Namecheap at that point:
After you’re finished with that and you have saved the changes you can click the verify button. If you did everything right you should get this screen:
It should bring you to a couple of screens where you can add users and groups, just click next through both of those until you hit the Change MX Records screen. Click Proceed to Point MX.
So now we’re getting to the actual e-mail forwarding part. On that same Namecheap screen, under Mail Settings, you’re going to want to check “User”, and “I will specify my own MX records”. Then click Save Changes. You should now have some empty text boxes under that area.
You’re going to want to put Zoho’s server information into those boxes like so: (Update: You’ll want to set the TTL’s as low as your domain registrar will allow to avoid any e-mail delays. I have since discovered that Namecheap will allow you to set the TTL to as low as 60.)
It’ll ask you about e-mail migration and mobile e-mail setup but you can skip those and just proceed to your e-mail. At this point you will be presented with your Inbox! Sweet! And just to make sure everything is working fine, send an e-mail to your new e-mail address from another one.
And at this point you’re pretty much finished! But wait! Let’s go ahead and set up IMAP so that we can check our e-mail from a desktop application such as Mozilla Thunderbird or on a mobile device!
On your Inbox screen, click Settings in the upper right-hand corner. Then, on the left side, click Email forwarding and POP/IMAP. Under IMAP Access there should be something that says Status. Click Enable.
It will then allow you to access your e-mail using IMAP and give you all of the server information to do so! The only thing left to do is setup your e-mail client!
Using Thunderbird, Click on the menu button in the upper right-hand corner go to Options -> Account Settings. In the lower left-hand corner click Account Actions and then click Add Account.
Put all of the server details that Zoho provided to you into Thunderbird and click Done.
If you didn’t receive any error messages then everything worked and it should begin syncing your e-mail!
And that’s it! You now have your domain pointing to one server for hosting and another for e-mail! You don’t even have to go back to the Zoho website to check your e-mail if you don’t want to since we have an e-mail client set up. Zoho pretty much acts as the middle-man behind the curtains for your e-mail!
And that’s a FREE way get e-mail service with your own domain when your hosting provider doesn’t support e-mail. Of course your domain registrar probably offers an e-mail hosting solution but they more than likely charge for it and who wants to pay for e-mail?
I hope you found this tutorial useful! Feel free to leave any questions or comments below!