A network mail server, or mail transfer agent, is basically your computer network's post office. It's the computer within the network that runs software to send, receive and route incoming and outgoing email messages. You can run an email server on a dedicated machine, or on a machine that you also use to perform other tasks. Email server software is available for Windows NT, Linux and UNIX.
In choosing from a list of email servers, you must consider a variety of factors, including operating system, cost, and speed. There are many choices on the market. To avoid feeling confused or overwhelmed, keep in mind that a mail server basically does three things:
1. An incoming and outgoing mail server maintains a database of users who have email accounts within the network.
2. An email server stores users' email messages.
3. A network mail server sends and receives email according to a set of rules or protocols.
Purchase a network mail server that's right for your systemYou need to choose server software that is compatible with the system on which you'll be running your mail server, whether it's Windows, NT, UNIX or Linux. On the other hand, you may want to purchase a dedicated mail server, which often allows you to choose your system.
Choose from the ever-increasing list of mail servers and softwareOnce you know what system you'll be running the server on, choose a mail server for the computer based on cost, convenience, and availability of support. A variety of options are available, including both SMTP and POP/IMAP servers.
Ensure that your small business mail server is secureWhen you choose a mail server for the computer you'll be using as a virtual post office, make security a top priority. You must have a solid firewall as well as spam and virus protection.
- Maintain the security of your email server by keeping the user database up-to-date and deleting inactive accounts.
- For added security, require users to change mail passwords frequently and to choose strong passwords that contain numbers and other symbols in addition to letters.