29 Sept 2012

Don’t pay for web hosting if you don’t have to

A few months ago, I moved all my websites, including my personal homepage www.manki.in to Google hosting.  (That is, some Google product running on my own domain.)  However, there was one piece in the puzzle that was still with my web hosting provider: redirecting any requests to the naked domain manki.in to www.manki.in.  Once the request reaches www.manki.in, Google would take care of it from there on.

This was the setup of my site for several months, until yesterday.  Only yesterday I found out an awesome feature Google Apps has.  It can redirect requests to your naked domain to any subdomain you specify.  Precisely the one thing I was paying my web hosting provider for!   And Google would do this for free because I am on their free Google Apps plan.  That amounts to saving more than $50 a year.  Very cool!

Essentially, I had to set up DNS A records to point my domain name to Google’s IP addresses and tell Google Apps which subdomain I wanted the requests to go to.  Check Google’s help page for detailed step-by-step instructions.

One last thing you need to do is disconnect your domain name from your hosting provider’s IPs so your users are always sent to the right place.  Once you have added the A records to map your domain to Google’s IPs, delete all original A records so your domain is not pointing to your hosting provider anymore.  When your hosting contract runs out next year, you can simply not renew it :)

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