In part one, I talked about some of my favorite support resources that can help a Google Apps Admin. In this article, we will discuss the settings in the Control Panel (CPANEL) and their importance to your Google Apps Domain.
Please note that all my examples are based on Google Apps for Business and an account that has “Super Administrator” authority.
There are a couple ways to access the Control Panel.
- The Google recommended way is to navigate to https://www.google.com/a/your_domain.com (replace your_domain.com is your ACTUAL domain) and sign in with the administrator account.
- The second way is while signed into Gmail with “an account” that has Super Administrator authority, to click the gear in the upper right portion of the screen, and select the option “Manage this domain”.
As a seasoned Microsoft Admin, and newer Google Apps Admin, there are some key reasons I believe that Google recommends logging in as an admin before clicking on the “manage” link.
I recommend having an Admin account separate from your main email account, or at least, have a backup Super Admin account. The “backup” can either be another admin in your organization (pretty common for large organizations), or for smaller ones, a dedicated “dummy” account that is used as a backup.
Why do you need a backup Super Admin Account?
Call it peace of mind, in case you change your password, and forget what you set it to. Yes, there are processes to regain Super Admin access to your Google Apps Domain, but why not protect yourself and your company.
Using Chrome as your browser, you don’t need to sign out of all your email sessions to use the separate “Admin” account. Simply click the 3-bars in the upper right corner, and click on “New incognito window” (or CTRL + SHIFT + N). Opening an incognito window will allow you to sign in to a new email session, without signing out of your current sessions. Chrome Profiles also allow you to sign in to multiple sessions at a time.
Once you are in the CPANEL, the first screen you are presented with is called the Dashboard. There are several key things here I look at:
1. I always check the number of users in my domain. This may only be accurate to the previous night, and if you are migrating, this number may not be accurate for several hours.
2. The second thing I like on this screen is the Your Marketplace apps section. If you plan on using Google Docs or Google Sites in your domain, and have not invested in some third-party security products, do yourself and your organization a favor, and install BetterCloud (free to install). Use this to dig into your organization’s sharing of documents, sites and calendars with Google Apps.
3. The final point I have about the dashboard screen is the search box at the top. It lets you search for both individual accounts by name or alias, and Google Groups.
There are a lot of great tools in the Control Panel, but you may not need to use all of them to manage your domain. Make sure to setup a backup admin account, and install a 3rd-party audit tool, then get familiar with the Control Panel to begin understanding what you may need to use.