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Author Topic: Recommendations for home mail server  (Read 3248 times)
CWuestefeld
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« on: July 15, 2010, 02:05:17 PM »

My home server is in its death throes, and I'm working on building up a new one. I bought a refurb Dell PowerEdge 1850 server (which now makes my office sound like I'm next to a jet engine, but that's a different story), and I'm outfitting it with the necessary software.

One of the server's primary purposes (other than being a domain controller -- so it has to be Windows) is acting as a small mail server. It retrieves email from my ISP accounts via POP3, and routes them to the corresponding internal mailboxes. My desktops then retrieve that via POP3. When I send mail it goes to this internal server, which hands it off to my ISP (which requires authenticated SMTP).

For about 10 years I've been using FTGate as the mail server. What it does, it does pretty well. However, there are two problems. First, it doesn't support authentication when it does the SMTP sends, so I have this ugly hack of handing the messages through a proxy that does the authentication for me. Second, there's a problem where, if an outgoing message has a problem, the entire outgoing queue stalls until I notice there's a problem and restart the service. I think the newer versions are greatly improved, but the newer prices are also greatly inflated, so I'm looking for an alternate solution.

So my key features are:
  • Windows service
  • Retrieve incoming mail via POP3
  • Send mail using authenticated SMTP
  • Remote administration, preferably by a web page
  • Free or very low cost

Right now, the top of my list is hMailServer. Does anyone have experience with that? Does anyone have other suggestions for me to look at?
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2010, 03:18:30 PM »

The Dell PowerEdge 1800 we have here has a fan speed control and is whisper quiet - Yours should also have that feature/option.

If you go with Windows Server 2003 the IIS SMTP & POP3 services work quite well, I've been running them for years. MS took the POP3 service out of Server 2008 so my 2k3 mail server is a Virtual (PC) Server - Which is available via HTTP.
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40hz
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2010, 04:24:41 PM »

SmarterTools has a very nice Windows-based mail solution called SmarterMail. I very seriously considered ver 6 of this app before I ultimately went with a NIX solution for home. (Knowing me, is anybody really surprised?)

Anyway, if you can get by with 10 mailboxes per domain it's completely free. (Otherwise it's fairly expensive for personal use since the minimum license is $300 for 250 mailboxes.) Nice thing about this product is that the only limitation on the free edition is the number of mailboxes. All the other standard features (webmail, calendar, etc.) that come with the "Pro" edition are fully activated. It comes with it's own webserver, but it can be configured to use IIs in either 32 or 64-bit configurations - which they recommend doing BTW. Great feature set - and it does support SMTP authentication.

Might be worth a look if 10 boxes will do ya.

Link: www.smartertools.com

(They have a really sweet help desk application too. That's what I  use.  Thmbsup)

-------------------

Disclaimer - 40hz doesn't get 'squat' from anybody for anything he posts about or recommends. So there!
At the rate he's going, he calculates he'll be able to retire on his 170th birthday - assuming he limits his food intake to something like six crackers and one can of soup per day once he does.  mrgreen


« Last Edit: July 15, 2010, 07:25:16 PM by 40hz » Logged

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Shades
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2010, 07:15:22 PM »

At the time (2000-2002) I used the version 3 version of VPop as a Windows solution. I was always impressed with the possibilities when taking the filesize into account.

Definitely not cheap, but very able.
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wraith808
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2010, 10:13:09 AM »

When I was contracting, and never sure if the client that I would have next would block mail sites, I used CMailServer from YoungZSoft.  It worked well for me, and I'd recommend it unreservedly.  It was free for up to 5 accounts; I couldn't see anything on that, so I'm not sure if they changed the model or not.

http://www.youngzsoft.net/cmailserver/
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2010, 03:09:17 PM »

I tried SmarterMail (suggested by 40Hz), as it gives the impression of being well-polished, and the web page makes it sound like it has all the features I need.

However, once I installed it, I couldn't -- even with the online help -- actually configure a site with it. It took about 10 rounds of messages on their forum before I figured out the problem: there are two different things in the UI labeled "Maintain", and I had been concentrating on one (which generated an error in the web browser) without noticing the other. Even after getting this set up, I find that I haven't the slightest clue how to set up a SmartPop-like arrangement to retrieve via POP3 mail from an external server, and to set up outgoing mail to forward through my hosting provider. Online reviews were glowing about how easy this is to use, but for me, with many years of experience, running my own servers and even understanding the protocols, I was completely befuddled. I don't like software to make me feel stupid, so SmarterMail goes on the trash heap.

I'm about to go back to hMailServer to give that I try. I'll report back on my success (or lack thereof).
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40hz
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2010, 09:30:56 PM »

^ Sad Sorry it didn't work out for you. I didn't find SmarterMail particularly difficult to use, but I apparently had better luck than you on the two occasions when I had to request assistance from the community. Both times, the answers I got were succinct and helpful.

Anyway, best luck with your search.

Keep us posted on what you find out.  smiley Thmbsup
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2010, 08:12:15 PM »

Sorry it didn't work out for you. I didn't find SmarterMail particularly difficult to use
Thanks just the same. Hopefully it goes without saying that the chance to experiment is still valuable. In this case, they had just released a major upgrade, so I think the UI I was dealing with is different than what had been out there in the past.

Anyway, I've got the basic setup of hMailServer working now, including the features that were important to me. It looks like this is going to be successful. However, I've decided not to use the default SQL CE database that ships with it. I'm installing MS SQL Server right now, so I can switch over to a "real" database before going live with it.
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