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Email server

Old 9th Jul 2022, 09:38
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Email server

Anyone had any experience setting up an email server?

Have a domain name and decent broadband, just wondering how easy it would be to setup and what is required to make it work.

Thanks

S
Splat is offline  
Old 9th Jul 2022, 19:23
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Send me a PM with your contact details. Phone would be best.

Setup is mostly trivial, but safe setup can be complicated.

I’ve run my own servers for 10+ years, the key is having a reliable static IP & a backup.

Good luck
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Old 9th Jul 2022, 22:46
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Check that your ISP allows you to run an email server on your network before going any further.
safe setup can be complicated.
Absolutely agree - the biggest no-no is leaving an open relay. You should also be looking at using encryption (TLS 1.2), some form of authentication (SPF, DKIM or possibly DMARC if possible).

I've used HMail as a free email server that runs on both server and desktop OS - Windows 10 is supported. It's likely that a small scale email server for home use will not outgrow the embedded MS SQL DB, so unlikely to need a fully-fledged DB.

SD
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Old 10th Jul 2022, 04:27
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Can you still just hook up a mail server and send away, I doubt anyone will accept your messages? I thought that in the interests of spam reduction people only accept messages from addresses they "know". I guess you will be able to use your ISP's mail relay but I would think they will charge you for the privilege. For home broadband, probably won't do it at all. It's been a while since I was involved in this but I can't see it having got more open over the years.

You could in principle use dynamic dns if you didn't have a stat ip.
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Old 10th Jul 2022, 11:50
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To give you a general idea of my setup process, based on a static IP:
  1. Repurpose a known, secure distribution of Linux.
  2. Install Webmin for easier configuration
  3. Replace Sendmail with Postfix
  4. Open required ports on server
  5. Redirect ports on separate firewalll/router to email server
  6. Edit DNS settings to provide global MX records
  7. Setup separate virtual host with Postfix for MX Backup
Redundancy is the prime consideration: if your mail server is down or inaccessible, your mail will bounce and can be lost forever.

As Saab Dastard said, there is a lot more to configure for security, that's if your ISP permits traffic through the relevant ports.

Depending on your needs, you may find that a mail host/hub is what you really want? A Dovecot server that can store all your mail for ready access, but cannot send mail. This removes most of the security issues.

Good luck.
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Old 10th Jul 2022, 22:19
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Originally Posted by jimjim1 View Post
Can you still just hook up a mail server and send away, I doubt anyone will accept your messages? I thought that in the interests of spam reduction people only accept messages from addresses they "know". I guess you will be able to use your ISP's mail relay but I would think they will charge you for the privilege. For home broadband, probably won't do it at all. It's been a while since I was involved in this but I can't see it having got more open over the years.

You could in principle use dynamic dns if you didn't have a stat ip.
I'm running a postix mail server on my home network which connects to my ISP's mail relay. It's purely for the convenience of managing multiple home email accounts and I don't allow connections to it from outside my home network (at least I don't think I do ).

I don't have any problems with my ISP but I have had issues with my emails being flagged as spam, particularly when sending to gmail addresses. These were caused by:
  • Allowing my home users to connect to my home email server without encryption (I fixed that)
  • gmail not liking emails originating from an IP address it didn't recognise. (I had to add some black magic to my dns record)
  • forwarding incoming emails to external addresses. gmail really doesn't like this and I haven't found a reliable way of making it work.
Email providers are working hard to block spam and, if you run your own server you're likely to fall foul of them sometimes. It's not your ISP that blocks it, it's the receiving email provider.

Now that my ISP offers an IMAP email server I don't really need to persevere with this, but I do. I see it as a challenge.

If you say why you want to run a mail server of your own you may get some more focussed advice.

As you've learned it's perfectly possible, though I'd say the first time you do it it's a bit of a challenge.
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Old 11th Jul 2022, 09:52
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Thank you all for the replies. It's obvious to me that this is technically a leap too far for me as although I am reasonably tech savvy, that does not stretch to this.

As an aside, I came to this as a way to solve the constant price rises that my host (one.com) keeps imposing. The latest is a limit on each email address with a 2 a month per account that goes over the limit.

I'm going to look at other hosts that support multiple email (as that's all I use), or I might just use it as a redirect to a gmail for example.

Once again, many thanks for all the replies.
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Old 11th Jul 2022, 11:31
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If your aim is moreso cost control, for multiple accounts on the same domain, then a virtual server may be a suitable consideration?

The specs required can be covered by a $5-10/month offering, and this resolves many of the issues relating to static IP addresses and ISP restrictions.

I’ve used hosts from Digital Ocean, Atlantic & Vultr with consistent reliability & performance.
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Old 14th Jul 2022, 08:13
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You might want to have a look to the Helm. Possibly overkill for your use case but works really well (have one - just a happy camper)
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Old 14th Jul 2022, 11:52
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Originally Posted by Splat View Post
Thank you all for the replies. It's obvious to me that this is technically a leap too far for me as although I am reasonably tech savvy, that does not stretch to this.

As an aside, I came to this as a way to solve the constant price rises that my host (one.com) keeps imposing. The latest is a limit on each email address with a 2 a month per account that goes over the limit.

I'm going to look at other hosts that support multiple email (as that's all I use), or I might just use it as a redirect to a gmail for example.

Once again, many thanks for all the replies.
You may not need to run a mail server if all you want to do is manage multiple email accounts - provided you don't mind them having the same domain name.

It's fairly cheap to buy a domain name with email forwarding ( I think I pay something like 20/year) and you get as many email addresses as you want.

So you buy: mydomain.uk.net (say) and set up email forwarding to you ISP email address. Then anything<at>mydomain.uk.net gets forwarded to your main email account and arrives in your inbox. Although they all get delivered to the same email address myaddress<at>virgin.com (say) , they all contain in the header the original email address that they were sent to: eg. accounts<at>mydomain.uk.net , sales<at>mydomain.uk.net , support<at>mydomain.uk.net etc. There are programs which will filter the incoming mails into different accounts by looking at the header. (replaced @ with <at> to avoid creating links)

I use fetchmail to get the emails from my ISP, procmail to route them to different email accounts, and dovecot to provide IMAP access to the emails, all running under Linux. That's not trivial to set up either, but it's easier than running an email relay server.

You may be able to find an email client that sorts incoming emails into different accounts based on the X-ORIGINAL-TO field in the message header. If you could find that it would be easy and you wouldn't need to set up any other software.

For outgoing emails you just send them through your ISP in the normal way.

HTH
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