In this article, we will explore what a Google Suite shared mailbox is, and the pros and cons of using it versus a standalone mailbox.
Option A: Standalone Mailbox
As explained at the beginning of this article, the standard approach is to create a new G Suite user account and use a generic email address with it (ie - firstname.lastname@example.org).
- All emails sent to the address will be in one single Gmail inbox, anybody who has the credentials can access this account.
- This account can be used to log in to other websites and services, it can also be a good place to route all newsletters and email subscriptions for easy access in one place.
- You'll incur the costs of an additional G Suite account.
- It's not possible to properly audit who is accessing the account and what actions they took.
- Sharing of credentials is generally not considered best practice, also each time someone leaves your organization, you will need to change the password to secure the account.
- It's difficult to enable 2-step verification in this situation without the use of 3rd party tools, often at additional costs.
Where this would be used: You need a dedicated email account for scans generated by a copy machine, in this situation you would create an account such as email@example.com
Option B: Alias Email
Create an alias to an already existing email account. For example, your head of sales might have the email address of firstname.lastname@example.org you could create an alias of email@example.com and all emails sent to the alias will go directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- No additional incurred costs, since you are creating an alias to an existing G Suite account there is no need to purchase another.
- All emails are in one centralized inbox. The user email@example.com only has to monitor one inbox.
- The user with the firstname.lastname@example.org email account can send emails outbound as email@example.com.
- Anyone who needs emails addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org will have to rely on the parent account owner (in this case email@example.com) to forward them or they will need to be able to access the firstname.lastname@example.org account. This adds possible security risks as well as inconveniences for all parties involved.
- You maybe be able to set up automatic forwarding rules to forward emails to other employees, but you must have a good knowledge of Gmail filters and this may be quite time-consuming to maintain.
Where this would be used: There is a single person in the sales department and nobody else needs to access those emails. Good for situations where you may want to provide a generic email address to new contacts.
Option C: Mailing Group
Set up a Google Group with an email address of email@example.com.
- No additional incurred costs - just like an alias, there is no additional cost to create a Google Group.
- It's simple to forward emails to any members of the group. This can even include people outside of your organization, very useful for non-profits and other organizations that work with many other organizations.
- You can assign users as group managers which will allow them to manage members from their own personal G Suite accounts.
- Google Groups includes built-in tools for easily managing shared file permissions, which are very useful if your group of users has many shared documents.
- No centralized storage of all emails to the group in a single inbox, in other words, no single account will have all of the emails. The message can however remain in the Google Group web interface as topics.
- You cannot use the email address to sign up for services or authenticate to other internet services as you can with a standard G Suite account. <-- No SSO
Where this would be used: If you have a "support" or "help" email, this can be useful to alert everybody on the support or help team that a new support request email came in.
Another scenario would be if you have a system that sends an email alert based on a trigger event and it can only send it to one email address. By using the group email, the email would then be copied to everybody in the Google Group.