Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blogger Accounts, And Non GMail Email Addresses Based Upon Google Apps

One of the saddest problem reports, seen in BHF: Something Is Broken, starts with
Help me! My email address changed last month, and now I can't sign in to my blog!
Those of us who help blog owners, regularly, with this problem report know to read the fine print.
Help Me! I never bothered to remember my password - I used the Forgot Password wizard to reset my password every time I wanted to sign in to my Blogger account. My email address changed last month, I can't get the email from the Forgot Password wizard, and now I can't sign in to my blog!

These problem reports come from people who can't recover ownership of their blogs, because they have no chance of reading the recovery email from Blogger. Besides email addresses that are canceled, there are also email addresses that never existed - and both variations may cause this problem.

This month, we are seeing a third variation of this problem, involving Blogger accounts based upon email addresses that are setup from Google Apps. We first encountered the possibility of using Google Apps to setup a non GMail email domain, when we explored the possibilities presented by Google Apps accounts based upon custom domains, newly purchased for our blogs.

It's possible to have an email address based upon any Google Apps account, simply by setting up an Apps account for any domain which we own, and have DNS control. Since the GMail desktop is used for Google Apps email services, this gives us a GMail account with a non GMail address. If we don't like using the GMail desktop for sending and reading email, we can forward the email address, using the GMail interface, to any compatible email system.

If you have a Google Apps account, you should know about one safeguard built into the Apps setup. The domain needs an email address based outside Google Apps, to serve as a back door. If you should lose control of a Google Apps domain, you have to verify ownership of the Apps account, using an email address that's not part of the domain provided by the Apps account. And recently, we have been seeing new Google accounts setup from Google Apps, where the Blogger service must be enabled.

Login to your Google Apps administrative account desktop. Go to "Manage account information", then "General". Look at the setting for "Secondary email address", and note the advisory
(email address must be outside this domain)
That secondary email address gives you backdoor access to the domain administration, should you lose (forget) the account name or password for the administrative account. Unfortunately, the Apps account has to be active, for the backdoor to be useful.

Some blog owners are exploring another way to use Google Apps based email, by setting up Blogger accounts based upon Google Apps based non GMail email addresses. As with any Blogger account based upon a non GMail email address, those blog owners risk loss of blog control based upon two scenarios - email addresses that are not available, and also email addresses that were never verified, and do not exist - should account recovery be necessary.

Blogs published to a custom domain that provides a Google Apps account face a third risk. If the domain registration should expire, the Apps account will be canceled. With the Apps account canceled, should access to the Blogger account be lost because of forgotten account name or password, the blog owner will be unable to publish the blog back to BlogSpot to recover blog access, pending domain repurchase and manual DNS setup.

Anybody who uses their email account to provide backdoor access to a Blogger account should consider this challenge carefully, in deciding whether to base a Blogger account on a non GMail email address based on a Google Apps domain. Improper use of this strategy could produce a blog that can't be managed. People who use GMail based email services, in a non "gmail.com" domain, that they do not control, may face similar personal decisions.

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