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I need to move hosting providers for four or five domains and for several reasons I'm considering a Linux VPS rather than staying with my current shared, managed hosting provider. The only thing that's stopping me is email. I have lots of experience running and maintaining Apache, but none with email servers. Based on some research, if I want to keep what I've using now, it looks like I'd be going with Postfix and Dovecot, and probably Exim and SpamAssassin. I have no problem performing regular maintenance and watching for security updates, but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew.

For someone new to email services, how hard is it to set up an email server that is externally accessible (via SMTP and POP3, not IMAP), available over SSL/TLS and reasonably reliable for multiple domains? How much of a time commitment is it to maintain one?

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closed as too broad by MDMarra, Ward, Falcon Momot, TomTom, Jenny D Oct 21 '13 at 10:22

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'll cut to the chase: email is a PITA to deal with. Nearly every experienced sysadmin holds this same opinion. There are many, many intricacies to deal with, from quotas, to authentication, from RBLs, to greylisting, to spam feedback loops, to getting your entire netblock blacklisted (and having to jump through all sorts of hoops to get off the blacklist.

Unless you have a very specific and well-thought-out reason for wanting to host email yourself, don't do it. There are many email providers that will let host your email for you, while letting you use your own domain. Zoho, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google to name a few.

Costs for hosting email elsewhere are quite low all things considered, and your users will have a much better experience.

To conclude - you admit to having zero experience with email administration. Unless your users are okay with shoddy service, you really ought to think twice about self-hosting, because if you choose to do so, you will have many, many bad days.

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That's pretty much what I expected. The corporate email for a company I used to work for was blacklisted for running an open email server and it was impossible for a couple weeks getting some email out. This was a decade ago, so I was hoping things were a bit better, but it's these intricacies that I really don't want to worry about. I'll look at using a dedicated email provider. Thanks for your reply. – Andrew Oct 20 '13 at 3:28
Fortunately, I've never had to deal with being on a blacklist, which I imagine to be a pain indeed. Besides that, my experience is quite different. I've found setting up and maintaining a mail server to be among the easiest and least time consuming jobs I've had. – Marcks Thomas Oct 20 '13 at 11:08

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