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Mail server and web server on different servers

I am writing a PHP application for a client who currently hosts their website on a shared domain with fasthosts.

The PHP application is going to be stored on a dedicated server at our location. Part of the PHP application is sending bulk emails, so I am going to set up a mail server on this dedicated server.

I have not done much with email servers before, so my question is this. Would using the email server on the dedicated server to send emails from their company domain, a domain which is pointed to the website on the shared fasthosts server, cause any problems? Is there anything I have to bare in mind when setting this up?

Thanks in advance.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 8 '11 at 9:50

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marked as duplicate by user48838, wolfgangsz, EEAA, Shane Madden, sysadmin1138 Jul 8 '11 at 17:36

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2 Answers

If the domain you're sending from has SPF (Sender Policy Framework) configured, you'll need to ensure that your server IP is added as an allowed sender. Similarly, if the domain has DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) configured, you'll need to ensure that you appropriately sign outbound messages - preferably with a different selector ID to the main mail server.

Other than this, so long as you only need to send messages, not receive them or process delivery failures, you should be OK.

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Is there anything I have to bare in mind when setting this up?

Yes, a huge amount of things to bear in mind.

First, setting up a mail server is not a trivial task. You need to ensure its not an open relay, you need to ensure its intrinsically secure and depending on the volumes of emails you should also look at extrinsic security such as DNS poisoning (i.e. maintaining a caching nameserver which knows about the root servers).

Bulk emailing is a very complex task. Mike Insch has already mentioned authentication mechanisms (but didn't say that you should also configure PTR addresses for the server(s)), but you also need to look at throttling, bounce sinking, reputation management.

And that's before you start looking at stuff like automated address list cleansing.

There are lots of specialist providers in the market who should be able to provide the service you need for about the same as it would cost you to maintain your own dedicated server.

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