Home Web Servers, Part 2: Software and Maintenance - Email Server
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An email server is another important part in the setup of a Web server. This allows you to send email from whatever domain or domains you may host on your server. Linux, as usual, comes with a built-in email server, which is usually Sendmail. Sendmail is a well-known, much respected email server, originally built for Unix. It has a reputation for being difficult to configure, but there are several good books that can help you. There are also many other email servers for Linux. For Windows, you will be a little more hard pressed to find free email servers. There are, however, several designed for Windows, and many are relatively inexpensive (under $100) if they arenít free.
One important thing to note when looking at email servers is that there are two parts to an email server: the Post office protocol, which people use to download messages to an email client, and the Transport protocol, which actually sends and receives mail on the Internet. Each server generally contains an SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) which does the actual work of sending and receiving mail. After this server receives mail bound for a local account, it passes the mail on to the local post office server.
There are two mainstream standards for this. One is called POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) and the other is IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). POP3 is the older standard, and is generally being abandoned by most people. However, some older email clients do not have IMAP functionality built in. In POP3 the email messages are usually deleted from the server after the user has connected and downloaded them. With IMAP, the messages are stored on the server, which makes it easier for a user to access ttheir email from different places.
There is also a newer standard for accessing email over an HTTP connection, but in many cases, compatibility isnít assured for this yet. IMAP is currently the accepted internet standard, used by most, because you can access you messages from anywhere, since they are stored on a server. This makes message access with a webmail interface much easier, as there are many built to connect to an IMAP server and allow a user to manage their messages that way.
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