Surprises come in small packages, and hMailServer is one of them. It is free and it is a mail server for Windows OS which means that it can be installed and can run on any PC. It was started in 2003 and since then the author has gone the extra mile to make sure that this software survives as free software. If you install it and use it in your organization, make sure to make a small donation to the author.
hMailServer supports IMAP,SMTP and POP3. It can be used with existing WebMail Clients. It has an spam and virus protection capabilities. It can be easily configured to work within and outside your network. And most important it is robust and has a large community supporting it. And take my word for it, its one of a kind.
Installation of hMailServer.
hMailServer comes in an executable EXE package for Windows OS. Installation is straightforward and contains the usual steps. We have to define the administrative password at the beginning. Configuration can begin after the software has installed.
We will create a domain king.org for the purpose of this article. This domain has to be registered for it to work with Internet or for the mail server to exchange mails outside the network.
The most important thing to be noted at this point of time is the setting for host and SMTP relay. These settings are very important for the messages to reach outside the network. If within LAN then these settings can be ignored.
To add users to the newly created domain king.org, we go the accounts section and add users. There are lots of individual settings for users which are
Specifying a password.
Size of the mail box.
Administration Level. The user can be Domain Administrator or Server Administrator. A single mail server can run multiple domains, each with its own administrator.
AutoReply, Forwarding and Signature.
Some advanced options like Active Directory and Rules.
Setting Up Aliases.
To understand Aliases, Bob is also looking after Customer Care. So he will have two email addresses, one will be email@example.com and the other will be firstname.lastname@example.org and bob will have to keep checking both the mail accounts.
To take care of that Bob can setup one account to forward all mails to the other or he makes one of them as alias so that the mail arriving in the alias account automatically goes to his main account. For a sender from outside the two email addresses will be independent and Bob can choose which email address he can use to reply.
Settings for hMailServer.
Any mail server uses the following protocols
SMTP: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
POP: Post Office Protocol
IMAP: Internet Message Access Protocol
A protocol is just a rule. So SMTP is a rule for sending electronic mail. Protocols work on ports. SMTP uses TCP port 25 and Secured SMTP also known as SMTPS uses port 465. SMTP is more of a delivery system while retrieval is done by the IMAP or POP. Note POP or POP3 deletes the mail as it retrieves from the server, while IMAP allows access to the server across multiple devices. This is significant as these days a user accesses his/her mail that way.
When a client or user sends out an email, the Mail User Agent (MUA) picks up the mail and sends it to the Mail Submission Agent (MSA). The MSA looks for DNS records, specifically the MX(Mail Exchanger) record to find out a few more details about the recipient. Whatever details it gathers, it gives to MTA who is now connected at the ISP level to deliver the mail through networks. For that it connects to the exchange servers. When the mail reaches the recipient network, it is accepted by the respective MTA who then forwards it to Mail Delivery Agent (MDA). MDA is also called as LDA (Local Delivery Agent) which is responsible to connect with the recipient. There after the task is taken over by IMAP or POP3 client whichever is being used.
So in case of hMailServer we only need to provide settings for the host and SMTP relay. After the relay things are pretty automatic. Both these settings are not important if the mail server is going to communicate within the network.
Configuring the Outlook Messenger.
To access mail, a user has to simply configure the Outlook Messenger or any other Email Client like Thunderbird. The important information that Outlook will ask you is
Just remember your name is not the same as user name. If test mail is successful you are good to go. Also you may have to have a look at the Auto Ban settings and IP Ranges settings.
Once the setup is completed, you can exchange mails and check the results. Also note that webmail access for hMailServer has to be setup separately.