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A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Google Apps and how awesome it is, and how wonderful the email portion of it is because it allows me to travel effortlessly while still receiving and sending emails.  I still agree with everything I said before, but I’ve also come across a very strange issue related to the Google Apps email.  I’m posting it here in the hopes that if someone else is having the same trouble then they can learn from my experiences.

It’s a known issue to Google Apps, but unfortunately there is (so far) only one solution that you may or may not be able to implement, but luckily there is also a very easy workaround if the solution doesn’t work for you.

So here’s the issue: I suddenly realized that I hadn’t received any emails from the contact form on my website.  The contact form I use is a typical email form that people can use to send me an email message directly from my site.  It turns out that because I’m “borrowing” Google servers to run my email this web form is creating some miscommunicaiton issues between my website and my email.

Here’s how Google describes the issue: “Because your website and your Google Apps email address share the same domain name, the mail agent running on the server that hosts your website thinks that it is responsible for mail addressed to your domain name. This is a typical default setting.  When someone submits the form on your website, the mail agent recognizes your domain name and concludes that it should be sending mail to itself.”  And then from that point the email disappears into la-la land – it doesn’t go into the spam folder or anywhere else at all, it’s just GONE!  Not good for business if people are trying to contact you via your website and you’re sitting there oblivious at your end.

So what Google suggests as the solution is to, “notify the mail agent running on the server that hosts your website that it is not also responsible for handling mail for your domain. Contact your web host for specific instructions. If you host your own website, contact the support team for your mail server software.”  Doesn’t sound too difficult, however when I contacted my web host they had no idea what I was talking about and said that there was nothing they could do.  Phooey!  Since I didn’t have the access to reconfigure my mail server myself, I was out of luck.

I needed to come up with a solution, and fast, before I got a reputation of one of those types who never respond to inquiries!  In the end the fastest and easiest way to work around this issue was to tell my web contact form to use a different email address that did not share the same domain name as my website.  Nobody sees that actual email anyways, it’s buried in the code of the web form, so I simply:

  1. created a new gmail account
  2. changed the web form to send everything to that new email address instead
  3. set that new gmail account to automatically forward everything it gets to my usual email address

Make sense?  Clear as mud?  I’m lucky because I know all types of coding – I used to be a software developer for years – and so I was able to alter my web form to use the new email address I had created.  But don’t worry, if you don’t want to muck around in the back end of your website then just get your web designer to change the form for you, or any techie buddies you may have – it’s a really, really simple change.

Now I’m actually receiving emails from my website, yay!  And I’m thinking that perhaps I might be thinking about changing my webhost when the time comes so that I can either have access to the email server configuration and/or have someone on the hosting end that can make the changes for me.

By the way, if you’d like to check out the Google description and solution for this issue yourself here’s the link: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=55299

If anyone else has encountered this issue I’d love to hear how you dealt with it!