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Chacham's Journal: Looking for an email host server 17

Journal by Chacham
I am looking for a server to handle my email. I have the domain name and DNS servers, so I can point the MX records at the server myself.

(What follows is somewhat thought out, and mostly in order of importance, even within each list)

What I require:

  • POP3
  • "Unlimited":
    • Local forwarders (so spam1@, spam2@, and spam3@ are just forwarders for spam@)
    • Addresses
    • Standard forwarders (send email to any address, and local copy)
  • Attachment support up to one MB
  • Backups
  • 10 MB local HDD space

What I want:

  • IMAP
  • SMTP
  • Attachment support up to five MB
  • 100-200 MB local HDD space
  • Per address autoresponders

What I wish for:

  • Encrypted email (so they cannot read it, similar to Hushmail)
  • 1 GB local HDD space

I don't plan on heavy usage. Just usage for me and family, possibly some friends. Probably just one domain name, though I could see myself adding one or two more in the future. The server space would be so I could use IMAP and leave email there rather than download and save locally.

I'd place reliability above price, so if they've been around for a while, I'd probably pay more, given good reviews.

Ideas and suggestions are welcome.

UPDATE: I am not looking for software, or to handle it myself. I am looking for a reliable company to handle this for me, and I will pay for the service.

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Looking for an email host server

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  • what OS is the server running? if your running a *nix of some type, I'd recommend postfix/courier IMAP. I'm running a similar system, works great.
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    • what OS is the server running?

      I am looking for a service provided by a company. I don't care too much about the OS, as long as it works.
      • I've been thinking of getting a colo box and moving some of my hosting off my cable modem for a bit more of a reliable setup. I know a few other people who are interested in so low cost hosting, just enough to cover the colo and bandwidth costs, mainly. I currently have a similar setup to what you want running on my cable modem, so setting up something similar on the colo box wouldn't be hard. if you're interested, drop me a line, email is my slashdot username, einstein at my website, http://cro.wox.org
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        • I am interested, sort of.

          Who would do backups?

          If I could find bandwidth (an pay for any excessive use which I do not plan on) and have a nghtly or weekly backup, this would be an *excelent* answer. Though I no of no such place that provides such services.
          • the colo would do nightly tape backups, stored locally, and I'd probably sync the system to one local to me monthly. I'll need to find a few more people to ease the monthly cost of the server down.. split evenly between the people I know would like to do this, it's $60/month, so I'll need to find a few more to make this reasonable.

            how much bandwidth do you forsee using? the colo I'm looking at starts with a flat 30 gigs per month, and it's $1/gig after that if you go over, or you can pay less per month. I'll bug a few of my friends who might want in on this and see how it much interest I can drum up to lower the price
            --
            • how much bandwidth do you forsee using?

              I do not have an estimate. However, my plan is just email, so it should be minimal. (Should I decide to use any other services, that would have to be a future decision, presented to the group.) If agreed to, it would also be an SMTP serter, and apache to run a web-based IMAP front-end, though I am not sure I'd want that anyway.

              the colo I'm looking at starts with a flat 30 gigs per month, and it's $1/gig after that if you go over, or you can pay less per month.

              May I ask for the place? I'd like to look at it.

              I'll bug a few of my friends who might want in on this and see how it much interest I can drum up to lower the price

              Five dollars a month would be excellent, though I'd pay more if that was the only way, and I was satisfied with the responsibility and reliability of the service.

              I would like my own setup for POP3/IMAP. Each user (hostname should have their own daemon. I don't know much about them. Though, if possible, I'd like secure, encrypted data on the server, for my own amusement.
              • May I ask for the place? I'd like to look at it.

                I'm currently looking at rackspace.com [rackspace.com] for a colo.

                I would like my own setup for POP3/IMAP. Each user (hostname should have their own daemon.

                one possiblity is get a range of IP addresses and give everyone a UML (User Mode Linux) process to play in. that way if one of my friends does something stupid, it won't affect your email service :) I'll have to play with that to see how much of performance hit there is.

                I don't know much about them. Though, if possible, I'd like secure, encrypted data on the server, for my own amusement.

                I'm not sure about that one... webmail would be hardest, because you'd have to decrypt at some point, in order to render the page... i'll have to think about that one :)
                • I'm currently looking at rackspace.com [rackspace.com] for a colo.

                  They seem good. But when I checked their website, they seemed so much more expensive.

                  one possiblity is get a range of IP addresses

                  That is a nice possiblity, but not required. Assuming all emails go to user@hostname, the daemon should realize who it is addressed to. The concern is that an ip block may cost more, when that money may be better spent elsewhere.

                  and give everyone a UML (User Mode Linux) process to play in.

                  I am not familiar with that. Could you explain it, or point me to some material on it.

                  that way if one of my friends does something stupid, it won't affect your email service :)

                  Yes, that is a nice thing. But, also, it allows the POP3/IMAP server to be configured all the way, with blatant disregard for what anyone else thinks.

                  I'll have to play with that to see how much of performance hit there is.

                  You do that. And let me know. That sounds really interesting. The daemon should sleep until it hears a knock on its port, and that should be a small hit if any.

                  The only real conflict would be what sits on port 110, and how to distribute the POP3 request. Does a master daemon look at the hostname and redirect the call to another sub-daemon?

                  I'm not sure about that one... webmail would be hardest, because you'd have to decrypt at some point, in order to render the page...

                  Understood. So, it doesn't need to be secure. Unless you want to write a client-side java app to decrypt it like Hushmail does.

                  I was thinking that it is secure, should I want to read it securely. However, if I chose to read it on the server--and thus decrypt it on the server--that I'd lose that. But that would be a per-read choice.

                  If there isn't software to do that yet, I would mind working on the project with someone. I am learning perl (ever so slowly) and this would be a wonderful second project to work on.

                  • The reason I brought up the unique IP per user, is that you mentioned controlling the daemons for mail. the multiple IPs combined with User Mode Linux ( more on that later ) gives you complete control, without worrying about what the other people are doing.

                    user mode linux is kind of like VMware, but specialized for linux. it's a set of kernel patches for 2.4 (to be included in 2.6) and userland tools that let you start a new process of the linux kernel in a type of virtual machine, allowing you, to put it simply Run linux inside Some links:

                    The daemon should sleep until it hears a knock on its port, and that should be a small hit if any.
                    The only real conflict would be what sits on port 110, and how to distribute the POP3 request. Does a master daemon look at the hostname and redirect the call to another sub-daemon?


                    as you can see, UML would take care of this problem, along with multiple IPs, because to the outside world, each daemon would be running on it's own computer.

                    though, since I've found the link to kspei.com, you might want to check with them, since it looks like they already have a very similar system setup, though it looks to be a bit painful if you go over their bandwidth limit.

                    well, I keep futzing over this post, and it's time for me to go home. I'm sure there is more I can add, I'll think of it later.

                    • The reason I brought up the unique IP per user, is that you mentioned controlling the daemons for mail. the multiple IPs combined with User Mode Linux ( more on that later ) gives you complete control, without worrying about what the other people are doing.

                      True. Although, I wonder if something crazy could be done. That is, have all the hostnames resolve to the same IP address when using DNS, but set /etc/hosts to give all the hostnames local ip addresses, and have the /etc/resolv on the local machine use hosts before dns. That way, all requests go to the same computer, but the local computer actually forwards it to the appropriate vm. Does that make sense?

                      UML Project webpage
                      Down when I checked,

                      a very detailed paper on everything you'd want to know about UML

                      Thanx. I started reading it. I'll need to finish it later.

                      a company who does UML hosting similar to what we're talking about

                      Nice. And cheaper too. But I've never heard of them before.

                      though, since I've found the link to kspei.com, you might want to check with them, since it looks like they already have a very similar system setup, though it looks to be a bit painful if you go over their bandwidth limit.

                      Yeah, but the bandwidth limit is 500 MB. With 30 days in a month, that allows for over 15 MB a day. How much email can I send already? :-)

                      I am beginning to like this idea.

                      I'd also like to know how do easily add and configure email addresses and forwaders easily. What mail server do you like to use?

                      Also, are you at all interested is trying to encrypt things locally?
                    • all the hostnames resolve to the same IP address when using DNS, but set /etc/hosts to give all the hostnames local ip addresses, and have the /etc/resolv on the local machine use hosts before dns. That way, all requests go to the same computer, but the local computer actually forwards it to the appropriate vm. Does that make sense?

                      I don't think that would work. You'd need some incredibly smart stateful firewall to handle that, I think, and I don't know if you can have the packet filtering related to DNS information..

                      UML Project webpage
                      Down when I checked,


                      seems to be up for me right now..

                      I'd also like to know how do easily add and configure email addresses and forwaders easily. What mail server do you like to use?

                      I use Postfix for my MTA and a generic imap server for imap, and squirrelmail for webmail. Postfix along webmin makes setting up forwarders and aliases very easy.

                      Also, are you at all interested is trying to encrypt things locally?

                      I know squirrelmail supports plugins, it might be possible to put one in place to do some sort of encryption... or at least a good codebase to work with...
                      maybe in combination with a fancy procmail script that calls some perl to encrypt the messages as soon as they come in, and then a plugin in squirrelmail that prompts for the passphrase, and decrypts and streams the message to the client via SSL? hmmm...

                    • oops. I missed a closing tag in there somewhere... sorry :)
                    • Squirrelmail looks cool. But, I can even run that locally.

                      Anyway, I like the ideas. As you move forward, let me know. I can help with research, and if I'm not in my usually lazy mood, I just might.
  • by glh (14273)
    If you have a "always on" broadband connection, you might want to set up a linux box and install your choice of mail deamon that supports those features. Or you could do the same thing on windows. Anyway, to use your own DNS you can pay a one time $30 fee at dyndns [dyndns.org] and point it anywhere you want. You can create your own MX records and as many names as you want. For instance, I signed up "nwnug.com" through there and have it pointing www.nwnug.com at my fat-pipe off-site server. I have dev.nwnug.com pointing at my server hosted at home over my cable modem. Haven't created any mail setup yet, but I have a friend who did and it works great for him.
    • Yes, I could do that. But what if service goes down? What if my HDD dies. What if <insert problem here>?

      I'd rather just have the service provided by a company, so I don't have to worry about when I reboot or whatever. (And that means, so the sender doesn't get the resend message, or so I can leave the computer off for four days yet still read my email.
      • by glh (14273)
        Reliability is definitely an issue if you do it yourself. Plus there is no one to blame if something goes down.. :) However, it's probably cheaper than going with a company especially given your requirements.

        • However, it's probably cheaper than going with a company especially given your requirements.

          If this serevice was provided, It's so simple I'd expect it to be 10 dollars a month for premium service. The two major things that are used, lots of bandwidth and hard drive space, are not my concerns. (I'd even provide the HDD myself).

          All I want that they need to work on is small amounts bandwidth, (which they shouldn't really notice) and some HDD space. I guess, I'd even just want bandwidth, a temporary backup MX server should the primary go down (even if it just holds email inaccessibly until the server is fixed), and minimal effort. Such as, I provide a box, and they give me bandwith, and either backup over the network, or change tapes that I provide. But, unfortunately, that is usally not the practice of most places to let you provide your own box, so they usually provide theirs, geared toward much different services, and it is very expensive.

          The questionn is, why can't I find such a service. There are tons of services for web servers, why not email?

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