After getting pretty well fed up with the extreme email latency I’ve
been dealing with on and off this week (imagine trying to sync source code with someone
by email when it takes twenty hours to arrive), I decided to set up my own email server.
I didn’t have too much in mind other than that it should be free. Fortunately,
I’m already using no-ip.com to get a free
DNS name, and they have the ability to add MX records, so it was really just a matter
of installing an SMTP/POP3 server.
My first stop was to try the stuff that’s built into the OS,
of course. Windows 2003 now comes with both SMTP and POP3
servers. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t get them working. I’m (fairly)
sure they do work, but I couldn’t
figure out how to do it. Oh well – I knew there are free programs out there,
so I went off in search of something decent.
My next stop was Mercury. It looked
like a nice product, and it installed easily. But it appears to run as a standalone
app, not as a service. If there’s a toggle somewhere that gets it to run as
a service, I couldn’t find it. Then again, I didn’t look that long.
My final selection was Mail Enable.
Bingo! Runs as a service, has a really easy to understand user interface, supports
an unlimited number of domains and emails, and basically has just enough features
to fit what I want to use it for. Plus, the latest update was like three weeks ago,
which is always good to see, as it indicates someone is still working on the thing.
It even has mailing list capabilities. Very nice.
One of the ways I plan to use it is to make up addresses to hand out
to websites. Because you can define a catch-all account that all mail goes to, what
I can do is make up an account like “firstname.lastname@example.org” and hand
that out to only to Amazon. I’ll still get the mail, but if I start getting
unsolicited email from other people on that address, I’ll know where it came
Anyway, so far I like it. We’ll see what happens after I’ve
had it running for a few weeks. If anyone has any experience with the product that
they’d like to share, comments are, of course, welcome.