I need to setup a SMTP relay for some web applications that need to send email to its users. I've used hMailServer for that task previously, but I'm thinking of switching to IIS SMTP Virtual Server.

What are the pros and cons of using Microsoft's own SMTP server versus a third party one?


I switched from windows own SMTP/POP3 services to hmailserver a few years ago, never looked back.

I assume you're talking about windows 2003 or earlier here, as 2008+ has no inbuilt mail services AFAIK - this is a decision that microsoft made, and it's very unlikely they'll change this policy, as it was introduced to push sysadmins into using exchange.

  • Yes indeed, I'm talking about Windows 2003. – CGK Jun 9 '10 at 16:25
  • You might want to take into account the fact that, should you want to migrate your mail to a new server in the future, it's going to be more challenging than hmailserver then. – Razor Jun 9 '10 at 18:41
  • Yes, in fact, that made me stay with hMailServer. Thanks! – CGK Jun 9 '10 at 19:56

If the application is using SMTP to send the messages, you can connect directly to your relay server. You don't need to run SMTP on your application server.

  • Of course, that means you need to be running Exchange, if you are a pure Microsoft shop. But there are big advantages in connecting directly to your relay server, in that there is only one source for all outgoing mail traffic - and in your firewall, you lock down all outgoing SMTP traffic (port 25) to just your main relay server. – Ken Ray Jun 9 '10 at 19:55
  • Connecting directly to the ISPs relay server is also an option if you don't need incoming e-mail. – BillThor Jun 12 '10 at 1:30

As with any decisions on which software to use, it depends on your needs. We use the IIS SMTP engine here to send millions of messages out at certain times of the year. It's fast and powers through them very quickly. It does not, however, have any sort of internal mailing list management, bounce processing, etc. You can set the retry schedule for soft failures, but that's about it. It's pretty bare-bones, and personally, I like it that way.

If all you want to do is send mail out for some web apps without any other frills, IIS SMTP should work great for you. Just make sure the connection and relay settings are set so that only servers on your network can connect and relay through it.

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