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Am thinking seriously of renting a dedicated server.

Now I know how to setup apache and the underlying scripting engines and databases but I'm a bit clueless with how the emails would work.

Currently, I'm on a shared hosting account and I get a fancy gui which allows me to nicely add a domain, setup nameservers and then the emails for all domain names with either simple forwarding or the full account which also has a webmail app behind it.

What options do I have? Are there non complicated ways to have the same email setup experience? Or are there reliable external providers I could use?

My past experiences with sendmail/postfix have always been fuzzy - not exactly knowing whats happening behind the scenes.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You have a lot of options. If you've never done it before I would suggest a communication suite (Like Zimbra), which will come with a nice GUI.

Alternatively you can use GMail, via Google Apps for Business. This would be my suggestion if you're not really comfortable with the technical aspects of email & mail servers as Google will hold your hand through everything that needs to be done, and provide good support if things break. This does however defeat the idea of using your new dedicated box as a one-stop shop.

You should learn about one of the canonical Mail Transport Agents (sendmail, postfix, exim) & client-access programs (Courier IMAP or similar) & get comfortable with the idea of managing it on your own. (You should do this no matter what route you go as it's helpful to know what's going on "behind the scenes" if you're running your own servers.

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I love Zimbra, and it is what we run at my office. However, for pure simplicity of set-it-and-forget-it operation it is hard to beat Gmail. –  Alex Mar 15 '11 at 19:35
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+1 on the Google Apps recommendation. Unless you're very comfortable with the nuances of running a stable email system, I'd highly suggest outsourcing to somewhere like Google Apps. They'll even host your email for free for up to 50 users. –  EEAA Mar 15 '11 at 19:35
    
@ErikA I didn't know that. I'll have to check out google apps again and try the email system. I always thought it cost to have a custom email domain. –  zaf Mar 15 '11 at 19:51
    
@Zaf - nope, the "simple" version is free. It's lacking some management tools that the for-pay versions have but works just fine for most orgs. google.com/apps/intl/en/group/index.html –  EEAA Mar 15 '11 at 20:14

If you are not comfortable with the way it works, you are likely better off using gmail as vortaq7. I do run my own email services, and have been researching the quality of the servers connecting. Even the big organizations get it wrong occasionally. Small operators are more likely to have minor problems. Surprisingly, the companies running mailing lists for major customers can do a very poor job of configuring their servers.

It is frightening how badly automated emails systems are configured. In some cases such as the airline industry these are likely legacy systems that haven't been updated.

If you are considering setting up your own email service you may want to read my rant on Running an Email Server. Its more directed at marketing types who tend to get very bad setups. It does cover the basics and may make you feel more comfortable running your own server. My other postings on Electronic Mail are directed at setting up particular services. They may give you an idea of some of the things you may have to deal with if you do setup your own server.

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thanks. I'll check out your rant :) –  zaf Mar 16 '11 at 9:59

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