If you value privacy and prioritize accessibility, a self-hosted email server is the best bet for you.
Email is the most popular mode of communication in the professional world. While various email hosting service providers exist, many businesses seek an alternative, such as self-hosted servers for email.
Let’s learn more about self-hosted email servers and the best platforms that offer this service.
What Is Self-Hosting?
Self-hosted emails are the servers that can be hosted in your local network or your server. If you want, you can always use it by integrating with third-party email accounts. However, its primary function is to let you create your very own email server.
Benefits of Using Self-Hosted Email Server Platforms
When you have a self-hosted mail server, all the email communication will get perfect privacy. There is no more being a victim of third-party snooping and sharing of your personal information with the advertisers.
Such email clients are accessible through the internet or the local network once they are integrated with third-party email services.
If you choose to use an open-source email server, you can create any number of aliases you want, that too without paying any money. Also, you can send unlimited emails from these servers.
Moreover, you can enjoy 100% control over your mailboxes and their settings. It gives you the option to set policies and customize settings that suit your organizational requirements.
Using a Self-Hosted Email Server: Considerations
Your decision to set up and configure a self-hosted mail server for your organization should be taken thoughtfully.
Before you move to it from a traditional email client, you should check:
- If the server has a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) for sending emails from different users.
- Whether it supports IMAP and POP3, the two most popular email protocols.
- To block incoming email spam, there should be an effective spam filter.
- If it contains antivirus to secure your mailboxes against viruses and malware.
- A Mail Delivery Agent should also be there to send emails to the inbox.
Let’s now look at the best self-hosted email servers.
Modoboa is an open-source email server that emphasizes your privacy. It works as a perfect alternative to other email service options as it only takes around 10 minutes to create a mail server for you.
Here, you get some of the best open-source email server installation, configuration, and security tools. This platform offers all the basic email gestures, including webmail, contact list management, calendar management, email organization using filters, auto-responder for emails, and an unlimited number of mailboxes, alias, and domains.
Moreover, it offers various administrator tools like the data migration tool and statistics. You need not go through the tedious process of individually installing each component as its installer does 95% of the work.
The biggest advantage of using Modoboa is data security and privacy. The email service provider uses the TLS protocol to encrypt all data transmissions between the email server and the outside world. SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols are some other approaches it uses to protect your online reputation.
If you are looking for a feature-rich yet simple-to-use self-hosted email server, go for Mailu. This free software aims to provide users with a server that can be easily set up and maintained. It does not contain unnecessary features found in many groupware.
The platform lets you use standard email servers and protocols like IMAP, IMAP+, SMTP, and Submission. Besides web access, it comes with features, such as multiple webmail, domain aliases, custom routing, and administrative interfaces.
Users can easily use aliases, auto-forward, autoreply, and fetched accounts to save time and effort. Global admins, per-domain delegation, announcements, and quotas are some of its administrative attributes that will let you seamlessly manage this email server.
Moreover, the platform uses TLS, Letsencrypt! certificate, outgoing DKIM, greylisting, antivirus scanner, anti-spam, auto-learn, DMARC, and SPF to ensure maximum security.
Docker MailServer is an open-source and full-stack mail server that supports email service through SMTP, LDAP, and IMAP. This production-ready solution comes with only configuration files that keep it simple and versioned. The server has no SQL database and can be deployed and upgraded readily.
It also supports creating custom rules for SpamAssassin and ClamAV, including automatic updates. The server uses LetsEncrypt and self-signed certificates to ensure data security. Users also get features, like setup script for server configuration and maintenance, basic Sieve support through Dovecot, persistent data and state, and extension delimiters.
Your device should have 1 vCore and 512MB RAM to run this server. However, you should deactivate services like ClamAV to run on a host containing 512MB of RAM. For optimum performance, the recommended configuration includes 1 Core processor, 2GB RAM, and enabling swap for the container.
Using Poste.io, you can get in web email and features like anti-spam, antivirus, and web administration on your server in less than 5 minutes. This full-featured mail server keeps the user data and configuration segregated from binaries. Since it stores the user data in SQLite database files, you can use this platform with external storage.
If you choose to use this self-hosted email server, processes like update, backup, and migration become effortless. It focuses on data security, and therefore, you will find Poste.io to be packed with powerful modern security measures instead of outdated authentication methods.
The admin can allocate different rights to the system admins, domain admins, and email owners. It is also possible to assign a quota for email count and mailbox storage. Its built-in spam filter and antivirus engine detect viruses, malware, and trojans to keep your mailbox safe.
Its other noteworthy features are email redirection, autoreply, email filtering, and data encryption. Furthermore, it comes with a built-in autodiscovery compatible with Microsoft365 and Thunderbird.
Those interested in building an email server with open-source solutions should opt for iRedMail. This is an open-source mail server that you can use with Red Hat, Ubuntu, CentOS, Debian, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD.
All iRedMail elements are open source, and the users will receive updates and bug fixes from the trusted Linux/BSD vendors. You can filter emails and organize these in folders on its intuitive web UI based on Roundcube webmail.
iRedMail ensures that the emails are exchanged using secure connections (POP3, IMAP, and SMTP) and encrypted in transit so that no third party will get access to your email content.
You get to create an unlimited number of users, admins, domains, and mailing lists on this platform without worrying about the expense. Since the personal data stays on your own hard disk, you have complete control over the email security that you can check through the transaction log.
Mail-in-a-Box is an easy-to-deploy self-hosted email server where you can have total control of your emails. Using this platform, you can turn into your own mail service provider. If you consider the technical aspect, this platform converts a cloud computer into a functional mail server.
However, you do not have to be a tech-savvy person to set this up. This platform offers webmail and an IMAP/SMTP server that users can access using the desktop tool and mobile devices.
Here, you get all the standard email features, including mail filter rules, spam filtering, greylisting, auto-configuration, and automated backups. Apart from these, you can also sync contacts and calendars into it.
This platform supports hosting multiple domain names and users, which is a useful feature for large-sized companies and enterprises. Its web-based control panel lets you add email accounts, aliases, and custom DNS records.
Microsoft Windows users should choose hMailServer for a free self-hosted email server. You can use it in most commercial scenarios as its extendable source code is available on GitHub. Any IMAP and SMTP-supported webmail system can be used with hMailServer.
The installation and configuration of hMailServer are seamless and quick. Its easy-to-use administration tool allows the users to add accounts & domains, customize settings, and turn on virus scanning.
The COM library of this platform supports integration with other software, such as your existing IT systems. Its pre-configured security tools make sure that your server is never used for sending spam messages.
Apache James is an open-source mail transfer agent with support for SMTP and POP3. James is the acronym for Java Apache Mail Enterprise Server. It consists of a modular architecture full of robust and modern components.
The server is compatible with emailing protocols such as SMTP, LMTP, POP3, IMAP, ManageSieve, and IMAP. It uses MySQL, HSQLDB, Cassandra, and PostgreSQL for storage implementation. Some of its other features are Mailbox API, extendable email processing agents, command-line admin, etc.
Dovecot is a secure IMAP server that you can use for small and large installations. It is considered one of the top-performing IMAP servers that support standard MBOX and Maildir file formats.
The server indexes the mailboxes with full transparency and offers compatibility with present mailbox management tools. The self-optimizing indexes contain exactly what the clients need.
Dovecot comes with flexible user authentication modes that accept various authentication databases and mechanisms. Also, it lets you migrate email data from different IMAP and POP3 servers. The security-focused design and implementation of this platform mean you do not have to worry about your data privacy.
Being an admin-friendly server, it generates easily understandable error messages. Its current features can be extended further using plugins. For example, you can allocate quota, including ACL support, add other new commands and edit the existing ones with plugins.
If the server crashes because of any reason, it fixes the reason behind it. While using this email server, users can modify the mailboxes and indexes simultaneously from different devices. It is possible because Dovecot performs well with clustered filesystems.
WildDuck Mail Server
When it comes to choosing a modern mail server software for POP3 and IMAP, people often depend on WildDuck Mail Server. This server is completely scalable, prioritizes Unicode, and controlled by API. By combining it with Haraka and ZoneMTA, users can create a complete mail server.
It offers top-notch support for IMAP, and hence you should not have any trouble using it with any email client. A MongoDB cluster is used instead of a file system to store any email data. Moreover, you get the freedom to set up as large a cluster as you want to.
A memory-safe language is used to write this email server. Also, you do not have to provide any root privileges or access to the file system.
MailSlurper is a useful SMTP mail server you can utilize for local and team application development. This lightweight server is suitable for individual developers or small teams who want to test the email functionality, minus the hassle of the full-fledged email server installation.
Its simple user interface lets you quickly search and check emails sent using your applications. Whether you use a laptop, commodity hardware, or a small-sized VM, this server will run seamlessly on any of these devices.
Moreover, it is capable of handling thousands of simultaneous connections and functioning with databases, including SQLite, MySQL, and MSSQL. Setting up this email server is easy, and it has a responsive web-based interface.
You can run MailSlurper on Windows, OSX, and Linux. Besides letting you search emails by subject, sender, recipient, and email content, it saves frequently searched terms.
Magma Server Daemon
The Magma Server Daemon is an open-source email system that uses encryption to keep your data safe and secure. The server supports POP, HTTP, SMTP, IMAP, and MOLTEN protocols. Additionally, it will soon extend its support for DMTP and DMAP.
The developers of this commercial-grade email server originally built it in 2004. The server currently serves all users, including SMEs or enterprises.
Businesses with the need to create numerous email addresses and have complete control over the email server and data will find self-hosted email servers highly beneficial. Moreover, by choosing any email platforms from the above list, you can ensure privacy and add customization.