Choosing a mail server solution

by | Aug 9, 2020 | Quick Posts | 0 comments

Having your own domain mail address sounds definitely better than using 3rd party service such as @outlook.com or yahoo.com. This however comes at a price as you have to either pay for a hosted mail services or run your own mail server. I originally started (approximately in 2012) with the hmailserver, which is so far the best easy-to use lightweight email server for windows OS based on my experiences. Sooner or later however, you realize that managing both windows and linux platforms is not the best option as windows tend to have huge amount of updates, automatic restarts, eats plenty of memory, both on the HDD and RAM and furthermore, you dont even likely need the GUI, which becomes quite useless. As a result, you start likely into other solutions. 

Thats where you are going to have several headaches as there are plenty of linux email solutions. You will likely find out that many of those solutions use dovecot or postfix anyway. But that is not the only package you need. You also probably want to have some webmail access (IE. Roundcube), Spam Filter, administration console and so on. Since you are likely on your own for managing the server, manually installing and configuring all the necessary packages is not what you want. After you realize this, you start playing with the idea of paying for the service as I did. The best options you have are likely:

The google suite is the ieal choice if you do use a lot of google applications,such as photos, documents, cloud drive and even need to have several other addresses for your employes. So far, google has becomes the most trusted email provider at least for me (I can be sure that people can deliver their messages to my address account 100% of the time and that I can safely sent any email to theirs and that this email will be delivered unless the targeted server has some other issues). That is unfortunatelly why the service is not cheapest on the market, though its still affordable and worth considering especially if you dont have the time to run an email server yourself. The ZOHO email services are on the list, because they represent the low-cost option (1$/month or so), which I would have likely used, were it not for a good linux email solution. Optionally one may look for a free of charge mail hosting, which do exist, but I would personally try to avoid them.

My second email server after hmail was based on iRedMail. The suite has somewhat limited administration, but its “All in one” and works pretty good and even have a good documentation and community support. The installation went okay and the server runs without much attention to it. At least until you try to update the server to the latest version. As soon as I have looked at the update procedure, I started almost crying. Manually going through the iRedMail versions and updating the packages manually one-by one was a nightmare, which fortunately never happened as I did not even give it a try and immeditely started to look for a better email solution, which would be more user-friendly at least in terms of updating, which is crucial unless you want your server to be hijacked. At that time, I had really a clean idea of what I really want:

A lightweight email server for linux, that is secure, easy to maintain and update.

Unfortunately there are not many alternatives to these requirements. I did give a quick try to zimbra, but this solution is not “lightweight” as it eats 4GB of RAM in the minimal configuration (Half of my entire server memory)! Why would I even need to run some form of chat / dropbox integration and or whatever? I do already use seafile, which is a great solution to file sharing itself. Otherwise than that, I did  give a try to collab groupware, which is another huge package of all services, one would ever need. Fortunately I had problems installing it on 18.04 LTS. This wasnt a big surprise for me, as the more integration into a single tool, the likely it is going to fail due to huge quantity of depencies. Sometimes I really doubt that developers do in fact know exactly which packages are required in order to run tools such as this.

Neverthless, there is the mail-in-a-box solution, which looks pretty good and was one the final candidates for my mailserver. As this solution states, its “all in one, simple,easy to use” – and it really is. The final decision went however onto the mailcow server, as it provides additional security via 2 Factor-Authentication, has a better administration UI and was somewhat overall closer to my expectations. Though I have to say, that both solutions are pretty good. Maybe the final decision went onto the mailcow, because it runs on docker, which I wanted to give a try for quite a while and was really surprised by the ease-of use and performance. Maybe also because mailcow is not among the best known solutions and I believe it deserves its place there.

Get the MailCow now and HERE!