Don’t Put Google into Google or You’ll Break the Internet

At least according to the IT Crowd.

Frustrated by some of the limitations in search capabilities supported by my otherwise excellent email provider Fastmail, I’ve signed up for the paid version of Google Applications For Your Domain (GAFYD).

It’s too early to call whether this is a permanent state of affairs and whether or not it will last past the free trial period. I really want it to work, but although there are touches of genius in it for your 25 notes a year, there are some bizarre limitations and omissions.

Rather than go into detail at the moment, I’ll list these as dispassionately as possible – some of them may be show-stoppers for you, and it makes sense to know about them before investing a lot of time.

Also bear in mind this state of affairs may change, or that I may just have been too stupid or too impatient:

Q Can I transfer my old Google identity across to GAFYD?

A No. Not if you’re talking about flicking a switch and having your data, logins etc. transferred lock-stock and barrel from your old free account to your new paid one. You can approximate the exercise, but it isn’t the experience you might expect it to be.

Q Ok, can I transfer my calendars across from my personal Google Calendar to the GAFYD version?

A No. You can get close though. You can invite yourself to view your own calendars and give yourself full permission, but the calendar is still “owned” by your old account.

None of the colour choices and other settings you already have will be copied across either, and many of the public calendars and other utilities that are available in the personal version seem to be absent in the GAFYD version.

Q Can I transfer my Google mail across then?

A Yes and No. You can’t just appropriate your old inbox etc., but there is a migration tool, and you can forward mail that was destined for your old account pretty much seamlessly, or grab it with POP, optionally leaving it in the original account.

You’ll also need to manually export / import your contacts from one to the other.

Q Can I access Google Reader, Google Groups?

A Not from your GAFYD account, no. You still need to maintain a free personal version for that lot. GAFYD is skewed heavily towards office use, so you get email, calendar and document functions. Even then they are a relatively pared down and business like version: fewer themes, less customisation, fewer gadgets.

In short, check that GAFYD supports the bells and whistles you like before committing.

Q Can I seamlessly manage multiple personalities in my email as Fastmail allows?

A No you bloody can’t. In this respect GAFYD trails Fastmail by quite a distance. For one thing, Google always sets the “Sender:” header, so your efforts to communicate from mrsean@megatron-industries.com will be for naught when the client at the other end reads the header and reveals the awful truth to your correspondent.

In fairness this can avoid problems with your email being classed as spam, and Google are committed to allowing this behaviour to be optional “soon”.

More later but, in summary, check that no-one is complaining that your favourite feature is missing or poorly implemented before putting the effort in.

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