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Last post Author Topic: Looking for Windows Email Server Options  (Read 7305 times)

Stoic Joker

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Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« on: November 29, 2014, 01:10:29 PM »
As Windows Server 2003 is quickly approaching EOL, I'm faced with the prospect of having to migrate my Email server to something else...and I do not have the (hardware) resources to run a full blown Exchange server here in the home office lab. So...

I'm looking for suggestions on a lightweight free - preferably Windows - Email server, that will need to support no more than a dozen mailboxes. Straight POP/SMTP is fine, although IMAP might be nice if the resource usage can be kept tightly reigned in (it will be running in Hyper-V).

40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2014, 01:42:18 PM »
Take a look at hMailServer. It's about as easy as it gets. And it can even be run on a vanilla workstation machine. No server OS required. Got an old Win7 box with decent RAM just sitting around?

Never saw it running as a virtual. But I don't see why it wouldn't work.

ADD: This guy seems to have gotten it working. He included the config details.

 8) :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: November 29, 2014, 01:47:29 PM by 40hz »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2014, 02:25:09 PM »
Take a look at hMailServer. It's about as easy as it gets. And it can even be run on a vanilla workstation machine. No server OS required. Got an old Win7 box with decent RAM just sitting around?

Is this a solution you've used successfully in the past?? I spotted it in a web search too, and it seems pretty popular ... But then again so was AOL.. :D

There's a couple of things about it that I found troubling. Like, why is PHPMyAdmin (mentioned frequently in the support forum) apparently part of the setup? If the thing has a browser based configuration, that's an added level of exposure I'm not tickled about. I also didn't see a lot of professionals commenting in the support forum...which makes me a bit uneasy.

40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2014, 02:52:19 PM »
Set one up as a temporary for an underfunded NP about 3 years back. It worked for them with about 20 users for half a year. Can't really say more about it than that. Ideal? Hardly. But it got the job done.

They eventually shifted over to a hosted service once they got better funding. Which made sense. They really couldn't afford IT support on their budget.

If you have serious security concerns, I'd probably forget about freebie solution for email.

Btw...What's wrong with phpMyAdmin?

Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2014, 03:29:33 PM »
Set one up as a temporary for an underfunded NP about 3 years back. It worked for them with about 20 users for half a year. Can't really say more about it than that. Ideal? Hardly. But it got the job done.

I'm currently running straight MS IIS POP/SMTP. It ain't feature rich - the Exchange server at the office spoiled the hell outta my ass - but it does what I need ... Although aliases would be nice..

They eventually shifted over to a hosted service once they got better funding. Which made sense. They really couldn't afford IT support on their budget.

I generally don't bother "budgeting" for IT :) But I do have to budget my time, so moving parts need to be kept to a manageable minimum. There are obvious risks to self hosting and I don't need to complicate them with flakey systems that want to tie into things they don't need to...or are unnecessarily complicated in their implementation.

If you have serious security concerns, I'd probably forget about freebie solution for email.

My "security concerns" are why I'm self hosted. :D

Btw...What's wrong with phpMyAdmin?

Not a damn thing. I actually love it ...(for MySQL administration)... I just thought it was a really odd thing for a mail server to require.

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

I'm from the less is more minimalist camp ...(I detest bells and whistles)... "Features" to me are just more holes to exploit.

...It's also a 4 day holiday weekend - which has been total shit, because -  I've got some kind of flu, and I'm feeling a bit old and tired of having to keep up with all of this shit.

Ath

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2014, 04:40:10 PM »
hMailServer is used in our 400+ employee business 24/7 for some rather critical secondary mail-services, though not as the main mail server (that's Exchange, as is to be expected). It hasn't let us down in the 10+ years it's in use, all 'failures' can be accounted to configuration/human error, not software failure  :Thmbsup:

x16wda

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2014, 06:38:15 PM »
I've used small implementations of hMailServer several times for specific purposes. It ain't Exchange, but it works reliably and has a good bit of flexibility.
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40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2014, 06:45:02 PM »
...It's also a 4 day holiday weekend - which has been total shit, because -  I've got some kind of flu, and I'm feeling a bit old and tired of having to keep up with all of this shit.


If it's any comfort, I feel that way about it most days. Even without the flu. :tellme:

Feel better. :Thmbsup:

Shades

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2014, 07:44:02 PM »
vPOP3 (not free, 1 month trial) was a nice and capable mail server the 2 years I worked with it (around 2000). After that, it became PostFix (through several iterations of Ubuntu Server LTS) which is working for me since then.

And it runs happily on a 10-year old computer with a whopping 512MByte of RAM, located in a corner, managed by WebMin. Easy enough solution, no licensing hassles and very reliable. All in all I couldn't be happier.

PHPMyAdmin is great for web-based MySQL administration. However, if you have a need for a standard application to do MySQL administration I heartily recommend the latest version (6.4) of MySQL Workbench. The Community version is free, there is also an Enterprise version which Oracle will charge you for.

The mail server I just spoke about...I use it as internal web-server for a moderately used wiki and also runs a heavily used PostgeSQL server (and still the machine feels underutilized). Last week the dumps I make as backup of the wiki expanded from a regular size of around 15MByte to 1.3GByte.

The dumps I make I test in a VM (Ubuntu Server 14 LTS) and PHPMyAdmin couldn't import that dump anymore, reporting back to me that 'mysql went away'. I had an older portable version of MySQL Workbench already available, but that didn't work either. Which put a dent in my effort to see what was wrong on a backup server in order not to mess up my "production" machine. Database replication, cutting up the dump file in smaller "packages", so MySQL wouldn't choke on it...nothing worked.

But then I thought of updating MySQL Workbench and what a treat that was. It couldn't help with importing the dump file, but replication was as easy as pie and fast too. Under the stewardship from Oracle that software matured and improved immensely, I must say. It was rather easy to eliminate around 40.000 spam pages and 20.000 new accounts responsible for the spamming. And I am sure I couldn't have done it more efficiently with PHPMyAdmin.

Not everything is better with a web-interface...

steeladept

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2014, 11:18:28 AM »
Been a long time since I posted, but I had to come back and post for this one.  It is too close to my experiences.  If it must be windows, I can't help you much, but if you are willing to stand up a linux/unix server (runs on Macs too), Dovecot is a winner.  Fairly simple to setup, low resource usage, runs great, support for both large and small use cases, designed for IMAP (though fully supports POP3), and VERY strong on security.  It's only drawback is it is ONLY for email...no contact management, no calendaring, etc.  All that is handled by the client side, which means no synchronization between clients.  Of course if that is what you are looking for.....

40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2014, 12:25:10 PM »
If you have serious security concerns, I'd probably forget about freebie solution for email.

My "security concerns" are why I'm self hosted. :D

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

I'm from the less is more minimalist camp ...(I detest bells and whistles)... "Features" to me are just more holes to exploit.



I can't help but ask - if that's the case, why are you using IIs? :P

Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2014, 10:48:55 AM »
Cripes, I completely forgot about this thread - Sorry guys.

Not everything is better with a web-interface...

Amen to that one ... PHPMyAdmin is really just a bad habit for me, because most of the time I'm working with a MySQL db it's on a web project...so I'm in web mode so-to-speak. I did use the workbench on one project - I forget which - and it is quite nice.



Been a long time since I posted, but I had to come back and post for this one.  It is too close to my experiences.  If it must be windows, I can't help you much, but if you are willing to stand up a linux/unix server (runs on Macs too), Dovecot is a winner.  Fairly simple to setup, low resource usage, runs great, support for both large and small use cases, designed for IMAP (though fully supports POP3), and VERY strong on security.  It's only drawback is it is ONLY for email...no contact management, no calendaring, etc.  All that is handled by the client side, which means no synchronization between clients.  Of course if that is what you are looking for.....

I do have some comfort level issue with the Linux/Unix stuff, but I'm not ruling it out just for that. My main concern currently is getting some kind of spam filter on the SMTP server side of things. While I have had fun in the past seeing how much insanity is flying around out there, my inbox is now running at over 85% spam. So I gotta drive a stake through the heart of that little experiment as it's completely out of hand.


If you have serious security concerns, I'd probably forget about freebie solution for email.

My "security concerns" are why I'm self hosted. :D

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

I'm from the less is more minimalist camp ...(I detest bells and whistles)... "Features" to me are just more holes to exploit.

I can't help but ask - if that's the case, why are you using IIs? :P

I've been running an IIS web server since 1999 when Win2k came out. I've never had a problem with it. Like anything else, if it's set up properly it's perfectly secure...and if set up improperly, it going to start eating your children/dog/limbs/etc..


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

Given that most of the recommendations have been hMailServer...I do believe it would behoove me to try hMailServer ... So that is now the plan.

40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2014, 11:13:45 AM »
I've been running an IIS web server since 1999 when Win2k came out. I've never had a problem with it. Like anything else, if it's set up properly it's perfectly secure...and if set up improperly,

Fair enuff. Next time I have a client that insists, I'll subcontract that part out to you. :Thmbsup:

Regarding spam...did you ever consider parking an Untangle Gateway in front of your e-mail? Not exactly tech-y to just buy something, but it's a quick and reliable fix if you're on a tight schedule. And if you don't feel like playing with the community version, $540 will get you the whole shebang with full support for 10 devices. To add the full (as opposed to the free) spam blocker to the community edition only costs $108.

I'm a big fan of Untangle. (Not affiliated - just for the record.)
« Last Edit: December 06, 2014, 12:36:21 PM by 40hz »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2014, 02:08:29 PM »
Regarding spam...did you ever consider parking an Untangle Gateway in front of your e-mail? Not exactly tech-y to just buy something, but it's a quick and reliable fix if you're on a tight schedule.

That's a bit too much the swatting a fly with a shotgun approach. I don't really want something blocking on all 65,536 ports when I'm really only concerned with shenanigans on a single port 25. But then again I tend to like keeping my router in a small plastic (WRT54G) box.


And if you don't feel like playing with the community version, $540 will get you the whole shebang with full support for 10 devices. To add the full (as opposed to the free) spam blocker to the community edition only costs $108.

Wait, what... Spend money on something with licensing limitations?!? Good god man! ...The shear horror of the mere concept.(..eek!) :D

Currently the only thing I interested in throwing money at, is the retro classic custom Harley project I'm trying to get off the ground. I'm looking to do an old school sleeper drag bike out of an early 80's Shovelhead full dresser.

40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2014, 02:41:06 PM »
^Works for me. If you value your time at $2/hr. I too take that approach with the stuff I'm actually interested in. ;D

And being the "employee of the week" in IT is no longer one of them. :P My job is just something I do - and which I'm pretty damn good at. :P

Spend money on something with licensing limitations?

Sometimes it's necessary. Or more practical. Or more expedient depending on the use case and the business environment in question.

When it is, it's time to deliver - not the time to take on a science faire project. But I'm thinking as a business owner here. Your situation may well be different. :)
« Last Edit: December 06, 2014, 02:49:46 PM by 40hz »

Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2014, 03:33:11 PM »
Anything I do in my home lab "for fun", is just one more thing I can get paid well to do for other people. As long as the end result is acceptable to my standards. So it's not really a case of devaluing my time to $2/hr.. :)

It's also a case of getting the most bang out of limited buck resources. Right now the bike is far better for my health than a snazzy piece of kit. Because 9 times out of 4 it's IT that is stressing me out ... And the bike that lets me de-stress/relax. You see life gets incredibly simple at speeds in excess of 100mph, and the entire universe turns into a pin prick as the dance begins. This is why it keeps being said that one only feels truly alive when on the razor's edge and I know this to be true...having been there many times. It's a visceral, tactile, beautifully violent dance with an incredibly powerful machine that you must know intimately to survive.

40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2014, 07:50:37 PM »
Anything I do in my home lab "for fun", is just one more thing I can get paid well to do for other people.

Sorry. When you said "home office" in your OP I though you were referring to your employer's home office. Not your own.

I've been dealing with the corporate world way too long. :-\

Quote
As long as the end result is acceptable to my standards. So it's not really a case of devaluing my time to $2/hr.. :)

It's also a case of getting the most bang out of limited buck resources. Right now the bike is far better for my health than a snazzy piece of kit. Because 9 times out of 4 it's IT that is stressing me out ... And the bike that lets me de-stress/relax. You see life gets incredibly simple at speeds in excess of 100mph, and the entire universe turns into a pin prick as the dance begins. This is why it keeps being said that one only feels truly alive when on the razor's edge and I know this to be true...having been there many times. It's a visceral, tactile, beautifully violent dance with an incredibly powerful machine that you must know intimately to survive.

You misunderstand what I was saying - or, more likely,  I didn't express myself very well. My point was killing yourself for an employer by taking on a science fair project whne an acceptable solution already existed and was obtainable for a very small price makes no sense (to me) unless you put scant value on your time. I then qualified it by saying unless it's something you're actually interested in personally - in which case I fully agree that you can't put a price on time invested.

You have your Harley love affaire. I have my music jones. At the core they're really not any different. And time is no object when it comes to things like that.

Or maybe more correctly, the time invested is the object? ;) 8) :Thmbsup:

Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2014, 07:52:26 AM »
Anything I do in my home lab "for fun", is just one more thing I can get paid well to do for other people.

Sorry. When you said "home office" in your OP I though you were referring to your employer's home office. Not your own.

I've been dealing with the corporate world way too long. :-\

LOL No my purpose for using the word home was to imply my house. I wasn't thinking of the other - rather obvious in retrospect - possible inference of the term 'Home Office'. At work we do have one satellite location, but its only existed for a few months so the whole HO concept hasn't really caught on yet. I was also thinking you'd remember we have an Exchange server there because it's come up several times in other threads.

Gotta watch those pesky assumptions! :D (tehehe)


My point was killing yourself for an employer by taking on a science fair project whne an acceptable solution already existed and was obtainable for a very small price makes no sense (to me) unless you put scant value on your time. I then qualified it by saying unless it's something you're actually interested in personally - in which case I fully agree that you can't put a price on time invested.

Right... Like scratch writing an IMS because it seemed like a 'fun' thing to do at the time. Now I get where you're coming from. :Thmbsup:


You have your Harley love affaire. I have my music jones. At the core they're really not any different. And time is no object when it comes to things like that.

Or maybe more correctly, the time invested is the object? ;) 8) :Thmbsup:

The second one sounds about right. It takes years of practice to get that good at something. But when you get to watch people's faces go O_O ...It's totally worth it. Lately I've been playing around with some of the low speed precision riding techniques that the cops use for parade/drill team presentations. I've fried the clutch three times in a year practicing, but I can now flip a full lean U-turn in less than 20 feet (at ~10mph) on my full dresser pretty much at will ... And that's with the wife on the back.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2014, 11:14:09 AM »
Okay... So it took a metric forever for me to finally get around to doing this...but it is now done.

The old Windows Server 2003 POP/SMTP has been officially decommissioned, and I'm now running hMailServer on Server 2012 std.

The hMailServer setup was completely painless, and the administration is about as self explanatory as it can get. I'm currently running full logging to see how much of what the built-in spam filter actually kills, and so far it's all good.

Ath

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2014, 11:24:50 AM »
 :Thmbsup: for the update, SJ!

And that easy part is just as predictedpromissed :)

40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2014, 12:31:03 PM »
@SJ - That was my experience too.

Glad to see it seems to be the general consensus.  ;)

Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2014, 02:56:20 PM »
For anyone else that might be shopping this question, I did also run across this: POP3 Server for Windows Server 2008/2012.

It looks like a great product, but I did not take the time to try it (it is dependent on the MS SMTP). And after experiencing the ease and simplicity of the hMailServer setup I don't feel bad about it either. Why, you may ask? Simple. The hMailServer cleanly did the one thing that the MS SMTP server never did want to do properly. Masquerade the Email server's actual internal name.

40hz

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2014, 08:02:56 AM »
@Shades - thx for that recommendation about MySQL Workbench. I didn't know there was a community version available. "What a treat" is an understatement. Very nice tool! :Thmbsup:

mateek

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2015, 01:27:36 AM »
Stoic Joker, you seem happy with the solution you chose, but I'm thinking back on how you gushed about Exchange a bit at the top of this topic.  

I thought I'd throw out that I use Exchange on Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008 run virtually on my Windows 8.1 home PC.  I don't use the email function, just the calendar, but I know it can be done.  The cost is approximately $200 for an SBS2008 virtual license and another $40 or so for Exchange.  Actually Exchange is listed as included, but when I had to reinstall last year I was cut-off for some reason, and had to go shopping around.  When I migrated to my current Windows 8.1 and was running out of room for migrations (and much sleep) I stupidly mistakenly overwrote my backup, thus the reinstall, but it ran flawlessly for about a year.  At the time, I used Virtual Box by Oracle, as SBS2008 wasn't listed as Hyper-V compatible.  I learned by trial and error that it actually works fine with Hyper-V (better in fact).  

I apologize if I've gone off-topic, or made you second guess your solution.  Maybe I'll solicit a critique on the advantages of the other solutions written here.  I'm really a novice as I haven't used the email of my Exchange at all.  

Can Exchange go right on your Windows Server 2012?  I know Server 2011 required the Standard addition for Exchange, unless that's another Microsoft ommission.  Does your Server 2012 even come with Hyper-V?  
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Stoic Joker

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Re: Looking for Windows Email Server Options
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2015, 08:54:33 AM »
Stoic Joker, you seem happy with the solution you chose, but I'm thinking back on how you gushed about Exchange a bit at the top of this topic.

Oh dear ... I hadn't realized I was "Gushing" - That's not very Stoic of me - I'll have to be sure to curtail that in the future to keep my reputation intact.. :D ;)

But seriously, the solution discussed here was/is for my home lab network and replaced an aging/EoL (Virtual Server 2007) Windows Server 2003 POP/SMTP server that I'd been running for a decade. It only controls my personal domain with a small number of mailboxes. So given what else I do I didn't want to spare the resources doing a full blown Exchange implementation because it would cut too far into what I have available for experimentation.

Note: I'm the Network/Systems Administrator for one of the largest IT companies in the area, and we have an MSDN subscription. So experimentation can occasionally require quite a few resources when I use my home lab as a 'the other end' of a test setup.

Point being I didn't replace Exchange with hMailServer, we still run Exchange at the office. I used it to replace my - self hosted - personal domain mail server. Both are stellar solutions for their appointed tasks (Crap - I think I might be gushing again..).


I thought I'd throw out that I use Exchange on Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008 run virtually on my Windows 8.1 home PC.  I don't use the email function, just the calendar, but I know it can be done.

That must be one hell of a calendar! :D I do believe it is safe to say that Virtualization is by far my favorite technology to play with.


At the time, I used Virtual Box by Oracle, as SBS2008 wasn't listed as Hyper-V compatible.  I learned by trial and error that it actually works fine with Hyper-V (better in fact).

I don't think there is any MS OS that can't be run on Hyper-V - I've got a copy of DOS v6.22 virtualized on my lab domain now. It really is amazing how few resources a server OS requires when it isn't having to futz with the hardware.


I apologize if I've gone off-topic, or made you second guess your solution.  Maybe I'll solicit a critique on the advantages of the other solutions written here.  I'm really a novice as I haven't used the email of my Exchange at all.

Looks on topic to me.. If you try using Exchange for you Email, just remember their are a list of caveats a mile long with self hosting because of spammers, and viruses making everyone paranoid as hell about anything coming from a residential IP address.

I'm not saying not to do it ... I'm just cautioning not to go live with a critical system (like your primary Email address's domain) until you're sure your ISP allows it, your - server side - spam filter will hold, and you have enough space for what Exchange is about to do -(transaction log size will skyrocket)- to your hard drives. And etcetera...


Can Exchange go right on your Windows Server 2012?

Yes, Exchange 2007 and above will run in Server 2012.

I know Server 2011 required the Standard addition for Exchange, unless that's another Microsoft ommission.

For a single server implementation common sense requires the Standard edition of Exchange, as the cost of Enterprise licensing is pointless outside of a huge multi server corporate environment.

Does your Server 2012 even come with Hyper-V?

IIRC everything does these days ...(hardware permitting)... That's the primary reason I upgraded to Windows 8.1 at the office.