In my previous article on getting your own email domain name, I advised running it on Gmail service. At the time, Google provided a free Google Apps service (aka Google Standard Edition, aka Google Apps Free Edition). But the service has since discontinued as off December 7, 2012.
So the only option left is Microsoft’s Hotmail (aka Live mail, aka Outlook.com) which is still free as of the time of publication of this article. Better yet, the free account allows up to 500 email accounts and there’s no mention of a email storage limit, so I’m assuming it’s unlimited.
So here’s how you go about it.
1. Purchase your domain name
You can purchase your domain name from any resellers that you like. You could actually even get it registered via Google. However, if you are to ask me for a recommendation, I’d recommend getting your domain name from www.GoDaddy.com.
The reason why I’d recommend getting it from www.GoDaddy.com is that they’ve been around for quite some time and has one of the better domain name management console that’s fairly easy to use. More importantly, www.GoDaddy.com generally provides various discounts and it’s also very easy to search for promo codes to get discounts when you need to renew your domain name. Just do a search on “GoDaddy promo code” and you’ll see what I mean.
And since I’ve bought my domain from www.GoDaddy.com, I’d be sharing how you’d do it if you bought your domain from GoDaddy too. But I’d imagine the steps would be very similar as well if you bought your domain elsewhere.
To purchase your preferred domain name, just head over to www.GoDaddy.com and search for the domain name that you intend to own. Once you’ve found an available domain name to purchase, just proceed to checkout your order. You don’t really need to add-on any additional features that would be recommended to you by GoDaddy during the checkout process. Just select how long you intend to register your domain and go on to the payment screen and complete the deal.
2. Getting started with Hotmail
The next step is to head over to Microsoft’s Windows Live Admin Center (domains.live.com) and manage the custom domains you just bought (or already owned) for use with Hotmail.
You’ll need to use your Live account to sign in to start. You can just use your existing hotmail, or live messenger (now Skype) account to sign in. Once you sign in, you should see the screenshot below to provide your domain name. just simple enter it and select the “Set up Outlook.com for my domain” and click on Continue.
If you got it right, you should see the following instruction, requiring you to prove your ownership of the domain by creating a DNS record. What’s great about this step is it basically uses the mail MX record as proof of ownership, killing two birds with a single stone. Gmail required me to proof my domain separately with a TXT record if I remember right.
Let’s hold on to this section and head over to manage your domain’s DNS record.
3. Setting up the MX record for your domain
If you registered with www.GoDaddy.com, go ahead and log in to your account and you should see the following section to manage your domains by clicking on the Launch button.
Then look for the little link to launch the DNS Manager.
Next, simple delete the existing MX records from the default GoDaddy mail servers and add in the one that was provided by Microsoft.
Once that’s done, let’s go back to the Windows Live Admin Center and click on the Refresh button. If everything is good and the DNS records has been refreshed and propagated, you should immediately see the following screen to add email accounts to the domain. And yes, you can indeed create up to 500 accounts! Gmail, just before the discontinuation of the free service, only allowed a meagre 10 accounts.
4. Some final DNS settings
At this point, you’re pretty much done. However, I’d recommend that you setup the following (optional but recommended) DNS records as well to keep this all nice and rosy with your domain.
Firstly, there’s the Server trust SPF record and the Messenger SRV record. It should be pretty self explanatory on how you’d enter them at GoDaddy with the screenshots below.
Lastly, you might also want to add a sub-domain redirect to Hotmail (aka Live mail aka Outlook.com) for ease of access to the webmail. You can pretty much choose any sub-domain name but the obvious choice is mail.your-domain.com
And with that, you’re done!
If you’re looking to setup the POP3 and SMTP access to your new hotmail-powered email service, use the following settings.
No IMAP support though as far as I know. Outlook.com now supports IMAP! So you can either choose to use IMAP or POP3 to access your emails.
Server port: 993
User: [email protected]
POP3 Security: SSL/TLS
User: [email protected]
SMTP Security: TLS
User: [email protected]
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