How to Setup and Configure Zoho Mail – A Perfect Alternative for Google Apps

Not too long ago, Google stopped its free Google apps service and required you to subscribe to their Bussines edition starting at $5 per month per user. Even Microsoft pulled the plug on their free service and started charging for custom email addresses with our own domain names.

But the good thing is, Google Apps and Microsoft Outlook are not the only services in the game. Zoho is one of the best and leading service which provides free email hosting with top-notch service and reliability. In fact, it is one of the only services that goes head to head with Google Apps.

However, unlike Google Apps and Microsoft Outlook, Zoho offers their Email and Collaboration service for free for one domain with ten user accounts. As you can use their service for both personal and business purposes, it is very useful if you’ve just started your website and/or to use it for your personal purposes.

So, if you are looking for a free and professional email hosting with reliable service and support, then Zoho would be a good choice. The service has all the bells and whistles you will ever need.

Here is a detailed guide on how and configure Zoho Mail. The guide is divided into several different smaller sections to make the setup process easy.

1. Setup and Configure Zoho Mail

Before going any further, I assume that you have already purchased the domain name. If not, get your own domain from Namecheap or Godaddy. If you are looking to host a website with that domain name, then consider signing up for SiteGround or BlueHost. These hosting services with give you a free domain with any of their hosting plans.

1. To start off, head over to the Zoho’s pricing page and click on the “Sign Up” button under the free plan.

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2. The above action will initiate the domain setup process. Simply enter the domain name in the blank and click on the button “Add Domain.”

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3. Now, fill in all the details like name, alternative/contact email, password, etc., and click on the “Sign up” button.

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4. Once you’ve completed the signup process, you need to verify the ownership of your domain. To do that, click on the link “Proceed to verify domain ownership.

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5. Here in this screen, select the method you want to verify your domain with. For instance, I’m selecting the “TXT method” which is very easy to follow. To proceed, select and copy the TXT string.

Alternatively, you can also select the HTML method which requires you to have a hosting account to upload the HTML file given by Zoho.

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6. To verify your domain using the TXT method, either login to your domain administration account or the cPanel if you are hosting the site. Since I’m hosting this domain, I’ve logged into my cPanel.

Note: Even if you are using the domain administration panel provided by your domain registrar, the procedure is pretty similar. In fact, Zoho provides specific instruction for all the major domain registrars.

7. Now search for DNS and click on the link “Advanced DNS Manager” under the Domains section.

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8. Once the DNS management screen has been opened, select the domain under “Select a domain” section. Now, under the “Add a record” section, enter the Host Name as your “domain name,” TTL as “300.”

9. select the record type as “TXT” from the drop-down menu and paste the earlier copied TXT data in the “TXT data” field.

10. Once you are done adding, click on the “Add Record” button to add the record to your DNS records.

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11. After adding the TXT record, click on the “Verify” button appearing at the bottom of the Zoho domain verification page. Depending on the DNS propagation, the verification may take some time.

So, don’t worry if your domain is not verified instantaneously. Try verifying your domain after a few hours.

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12. Once your domain has been verified, enter a username of your choice and click on the button “Create Account.”

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2. Creating MX Records

1. The above action will take you to the essential wizard. Here, click on the “Next” button until you reach the “Change MX Records” screen.

2. Once you are there, click on the link “Proceed to Point MX.” In case you are wondering, these MX records are what responsible for delivering and receiving emails to your custom email address.

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3. The above action will show the Zoho MX records along with required instructions on how to add MX records in your domain or hosting control panel.

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Since I’m already hosting my domain, I’m going to change the MX records from the hosting cPanel. If you are not hosting your domain then you need to add the MX records from your domain administration panel provided by your domain registrar.

Either way, the procedure is pretty similar and Zoho has all the instructions you will ever need.

4. To change the MX records, log in to the administration panel, search for “MX Entry” and click on the link “MX Entry” to open MX Entries page.

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5. Here, select your domain from the drop-down menu. Now, delete any old entries that are listed. Under the “Add new record” section, add the records one by one as shown in the Zoho administration page.

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6. Once you are done adding, this is how it should look like in your domain or hosting control panel. But keep in mind that the DNS propagation may take up to 48 hours.

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7. Now, go back to the Zoho administration panel and click on the “Next” button to complete the setup process. To access your new Zoho Mail account, click on the link “Proceed to access Zoho Mail” at the end of the wizard.

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8. That’s all there is to do. You’ve successfully completed the process. From this point forward, you are all good to use your new custom email account with Zoho Mail.

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3. Enable Custom URL

If you want a custom URL something like mail.yourdomain.com to log in to your email account, then you need to add a CNAME record. To do that, log in to your domain control panel and open the DNS settings.

1. To do that, log in to your domain control panel and open the DNS settings.

2. Once you are in, create a new CNAME record with the name mail.yourdomain.com, point that subdomain to business.zoho.com and click on the button “Add record” to complete the process.

Note: Don’t forget to replace, yourdomain.com with your actual domain name.

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3. From this point forward, you can access your email account by entering the URL mail.yourdomain.comWith this, you are almost done setting up and configuring Zoho Mail.

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4. Adding SPF Record for Zoho Mail

Even though adding SPF (Sender Policy Framework) for Zoho Mail is completely optional, it enables the email servers to recognize that the Zoho Mail is actually permitted to send emails with your domain name. This ensures that your emails are not rejected by the recipient email server or are treated as spam.

1. To add SPF record, open up the DNS settings in the domain control panel and add a new TXT record with the below “TXT data.”

v=spf1 mx include:zoho.com ~all

Conclusion

As you can see, setting up and configuring Zoho mail is pretty easy and straightforward. Along with Email hosting, the free plan also comes with the support for Zoho Docs and Sites. If you want Zoho on the go, then download the iOS and Android apps.

One of the best things about the Zoho Mail is that the support staff is always available to help you through the support forums. If you need more personalized help, simply send an email to support [at] zoho.com.

That’s it for now and hopefully that helps. Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using Zoho Mail for personal or business purposes.

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