Sunday, September 7, 2008

Registering a domain using Google Apps, but hosting "www" yourself

So I registered a new domain today: In the past, I've registered a few domains ( and with a couple other companies (one with a hosting package that expired a couple years ago and one with Yahoo!). They weren't bad experiences, but I decided to go with Google's partners this time, partly because of Google Apps. I like the idea of not having to mess with email at the domain and being able to use GMail's familiar interface for the mail that goes to that address. Initially, though, they registered the "www" alias back to the "start" pages they set up for me, which meant that the address in the address bar of the browser went from the simple "" through what appeared to be a couple forwards to end up as "". If I do end up doing business on this domain, I don't want potential customers going to an address like that. I also wanted to be able to control a number of other services and things behind (SSH, in particular).

Here's what I ended up doing: Once you log into the domain you registered with Google Apps (by going to[domain name here]), you can go to the "Domain Settings" then the "Domain Names" section. Once you're there, you can get to the actual domain registrar's site (Google partners with a couple other companies to register the domain name; it doesn't register the name itself) by clicking the "Advanced DNS Settings" link. In my case, I registered the address with eNom, who has a fairly straightforward interface for managing the various parts of the DNS entries. In my case, I needed to edit the "Host Records" section where wanted to forward the "www" host to my actual IP address.

In the "Host Records" section, there are actually a few types of entries; the two types that really mattered in this case are "A" and "CNAME". An "A" entry stands for an actual IP address; a "CNAME" entry is more of an alias, forwarding the host to the "named" address in the entry. When I registered with Google Apps, eNom automatically filled in a number of entries for me, setting a few "A" entries to what I assume are Google's IP addresses, and then aliasing a number of other services (Mail, Calendar, etc) to the Google services address "". All I ended up doing was changing the "www" entry (which Google had set as a "CNAME" entry) to an "A" entry pointing at the static IP address I have through my ISP.

It took a little while for the changes to propagate through the net, but now when someone goes to, they'll actually get the pages I'm hosting here rather than being forwarded to the Google pages (or they will once I actually start hosting some pages here ;)). And things like Google Mail for still work.

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