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Alternatives to Google Apps for Free

The free ride on Google Apps is over. Last week, Google announced that there will no more free signups to Google Apps. Whether you run a business with two employee or two hundred, you have to signup to Google Apps for Business Premium which starts from $50 per user per year, and goes upwards. While the premium package comes with perks such as round the clock customer support, migration tools and better uptime, not everyone needs them, particularly ones who use Google Apps simply for email hosting on custom domain. Now that Google Apps is gone, let us look at some of the alternatives we have for hosting our domains for personalized email addresses.

Google Apps for Free is Still Available


That’s right. You can still sign-up for Google Apps for free even though it is officially retired via the Google App Engine loophole. Google App Engine, for those who are not aware, is a platform as a service cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications in Google-managed data centers. Basically, it allows developers to host web apps and even websites for free up to a certain level of consumed resources. Fees are charged for additional storage, bandwidth, or instance hours required by the application.

All apps hosted on Google App Engine are served on the default * domain, but there is a provision where developers can add custom domains for their apps. Currently, custom domains for Google App Engine are handled through Google Apps. To enable Google App Engine users to add a custom domain without paying for Google Apps for Business, Google has added backdoor through which developers can signup for Google Apps for free if they come from the Google App Engine dashboard. These free accounts are single user, which means that you can register only one email address under it.

This is how it is done.

  1. Go to, sign-in with your Google Account and create a new application.
  2. Fill in the form with any dummy date and click the “Create Application” button.
  3. Open the “Dashboard” and click the link that says “Application Settings.”
  4. On the Application Settings page, scroll down to the Domain Setup section and click the “Add Domain” button.
  5. This will take you to a page where you can signup for the free edition of Google Apps. Now you can add your custom domain and create a new email address.

Microsoft Outlook


If one email address is not enough for you, the next best alternative is Microsoft Outlook. Here is how to add a custom domain to Outlook.

  1. Go to and sign-in with your existing Microsoft account. Then, click on Get started link to add your domain name that you want to set the email address up with.
  2. On the next screen, you’ll be provided with a list of DNS records that you will have to add to your domain. The first is the MX record that is essential for handling your mail traffic. The other is a TXT record used to authenticate your outgoing Outlook emails.
  3. After you have completed creating all of the DNS records, navigate to “Member Accounts” using the menu on the left of the Windows Live Admin Center. This is where you can create the email address that you want to use. You can setup a maximum of 500 users and there is no hard storage limit.
  4. It is possible to setup your Outlook Mail on a sub-domain, for instance you can login to your personalized email account by going to instead of For this you have to add a new CNAME record and point it to

If you love the Gmail interface, you can import your Outlook mails via POP3 into your Gmail inbox by setting up account import.

Zoho Mail


Zoho Mail offers powerful email hosting services including calendar, document management, task management, and contact management. Zoho Mail also integrates with other components of the Zoho Office suite such as the Writer, Sheet, and Show.

Zoho Mail free allows you to add up to 3 users to your email address, with 5GB storage per user. Paid accounts starts at just $2 per month per user. These accounts allow you to host multiple domains and you also get a bigger inbox.


  • Powerful Administrative Console
  • Multiple domain management
  • No Ads even in free version 
  • Free up to 3 users
  • Multiple Domain based Mail Alias creation
  • POP Server Support
  • IP based Security Option
  • Groups with varied access controls
  • Group Mail
  • Catch All Mail box
  • Effective SPAM control
  • Organize your Email effectively with Folders, Labels and Filters
  • Web based Mail with attractive features and anytime anywhere access
  • Access via IMAP and POP
  • Manage your other accounts via POP inside Zoho Mail
  • Access all Business Apps from a single console


  1. I don't like Zoho. The interface isn't very good, and it is hard to use. Google apps was good, but I'm hesitant to pay for it.

  2. You can bring your Zoho mails into your Gmail inbox.

  3. Zoho is not so perfect like google apps. But still one can use it. I want to confirm one more thing from your side that the pre-registered users have to also pay for it...


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