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Old 26 October 2011, 06:44   #1
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Can someone explain email servers to me?

I'm trying to prepare/plan for an upgrade to our office system which relies at the moment on a simple file server and a few email accounts on individual client machines.

The main problem I want overcome is backing up emails which at the minute rely on pop3 accounts from our ISP. I realise I can perform a backup on each client, but it would be better if it could be centralised. Reliability, RAID and data security also come into this a bit too.

I understand the main principle of a server means that we will be bypassing the ISP and any emails intended for us will be delivered straight to the server (with fixed IP and MX appropriately set). However, from this point on I'm struggling to understand how exactly things will work within the office.

Would each client PC view those emails on our server via IMAP or is there some other protocol that leaves the email on the server but allows viewing on a remote client? Is it possible to allow two client PC's to view the same emails and respond/action them? If an email is sent internally, presumably it doesn't involve the internet at all but is dealt with locally within the server.

I'm looking towards using Linux Server, so if anyone has any recommendations for email server software that'd be good too. I'm not looking for anything fancy and would like to steer clear of MS Exchange as I feel it is overkill for what we need and costly. Equally though, whatever system we settle for musn't be too esoteric either.
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Old 26 October 2011, 07:10   #2
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Old 26 October 2011, 07:17   #3
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Erin,

I've "self hosted" IMAP and MS Exchange Servers in the past at a small company. You can do as you describe with each machine accessing the server for the mail, and multiple users having multiple access etc. You can do all this via IMAP at your ISP too.

HOWEVER, if I was setting it up today I'd be looking seriously at the Google Mail offerings (can all be done so your clients see exactly the same as now, but google are much more likely to keep everything working than you - and you can access anywhere anytime etc.). Your users can continue to access via outlook etc which they have got used to...
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Old 26 October 2011, 08:22   #4
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Thanks for the replies so far.

Pol, I can do online hosting already via our 1and1 package, although I have to say I am perhaps a bit more of a traditionalist and would prefer to have the 'data' held locally. Also, as I understand it every message would have to go via the 1and1 server and back even if I'm emailing the colleague sitting next to me. We don't always have the best bandwidth/broadband speed here either, I'm too embarrased to post our up and down speeds on the other thread .
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Old 26 October 2011, 09:34   #5
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Erin,

We use a 1and1 package here and it works fine. I've far more trust in 1und1 to manage their servers, backup and fix any problems in the event of a fire, flood, virus, than anyone here!

Yes you are right the normal routing for mail going from Erin@yourco.com to Joe@yourco.com would be to go out to the 'external' mail server, and then for Joe to pick it up which could add bandwidth. If its big files you might want to encourage just moving the files (e.g. network storage). For small files we never noticed a big issue when I had 5 people sharing a 256k upload speed. Our new speeds aren't anything like Willk's but even with dozens of people sharing a 1000 Mb/s upload i've never noticed a problem (we have no bandwidth limits).

By hosting at the office you get two new problems with bandwidth:

(1) Spam. You are going to receive every message for your server. If you use google you'll cut your mail traffic significantly (I would say by > 50%!).

(2) If people connect from home (or via mobile etc) then their access to your mail server is across the broadband connection which will probably be the bottle neck. If you send and email from home to someone you have to upload it to your work server then it has to send it back out again. Don't know how much off site stuff people do.

I think there are ways of having both internal email addresses and external - but its probably more hassle than its worth.
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Old 26 October 2011, 12:06   #6
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take a look at office 365 no need for hardware, very cost effective and scaleable.

Office 365 - Exchange
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