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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 27th February, 2004, 01:55 PM
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Mail Server - How do they work?

I'm going to look stupid here but.....

We had a bit of hassle yesterday with a work station motherboard dying. It was an old K6/2 so we replaced it with a nice new laptop which will normally be used as a desktop.

One of the issues however was that up until now all our business emails have been directed to each individual machine. With the machine crashing I had to spend the best bit of yesterday removing the Hdd, installing it in my machine, retreiving the messages onto the server, reloading them to the laptop and so on.

AM I right in thinking that a mail server would hold all messages centrally so this sort of situation wouldn't happen again? If so, how do I go about it? What sort of spec is needed, do we need a new machine to host it?

We have 4 workstations and a server (which is occasionally also used as a work station), all runnning w2k, ADSL.
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Old 27th February, 2004, 01:58 PM
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If it can be done and Admin is willing why not set up your mail on our server? Hey it beats paying for stamps! ":O}
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Old 27th February, 2004, 03:49 PM
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For standard Internet-type e-mail (SMTP/POP3) the client is normally responsible for deleting mail from the server. The usual default setting in the mail client is to delete mail from the server as soon as it is received, but you should have the option to leave the mail on the server for some period of time. I usually leave my mail on our server for 7 days, and then have the mail program delete it. Note, however, that it is also possible for the admin of the server to set a mail retention limit of x days or whatever. That will depend the configuration of the server.

I have our mail server here at the office (we are running Exchange 5.5) to allow each user to keep up to 50 meg of mail, with no time limit. I figure it is up to the users to manage their mail boxes to stay within the storage limits. Once they exceed the storage limits, they can't send or receive e-mail until they do something about it.
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Old 27th February, 2004, 03:52 PM
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There's several different standards for picking mail up from a mail server. The most common in the internet world is probably POP3.

However, POP3 downloads the mail from the server onto the local machine, and then erases it from the server. That's not what you want really.

An alternative is something like IMAP, where the client copies the mail from the server. This means if the client hardware fails, the server still has all the mail on it.

There are also propriatory solutions, such as MS Exchange or Lotus Notes, which uses something similar to ensure replication between the client and server.

-------

If you run your own servers, then you'll probably want to have some kind of backup plan. If you lose your servers, then everything will grind to a halt!

Most mail servers pick up email from the internet using a protocol known as SMTP. This is a well supported standard, but may not be what you're currently using. If you end up hosting your own mail server, it's generally a good idea to have a secondary machine that can hold mail in case your ADSL goes down, or the main server fails. Most ISPs will offer such a service, but it will cost.

(Note to Dan: Whilst it might be a nice idea to do mail forwarding for Dod, we would have to examine the legal implications of doing so.)
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Old 27th February, 2004, 04:01 PM
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Actually, a lot of POP3 clients allow you to leave mail on the server for some period of time, also. That's not limited to IMAP or MAPI clients.
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Old 27th February, 2004, 05:40 PM
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LDAP?
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Old 27th February, 2004, 06:43 PM
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Hm. This has officially turned into "I'm just going to pay someone to do it". It will be cheaper for me in the long run

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 27th February, 2004, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gizmo
Actually, a lot of POP3 clients allow you to leave mail on the server for some period of time, also.
Indeed, but most ISPs tend to get a little unhappy if you store too much on their server. It also doesn't store the read status of the email, so POP3 is much more limiting.
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Old 27th February, 2004, 07:38 PM
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One of these days I'm going to say something useful, then you'll be sorry! {because I'll never let you forget it!":O}
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Old 27th February, 2004, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dod
Hm. This has officially turned into "I'm just going to pay someone to do it". It will be cheaper for me in the long run

Thanks for the replies.
Have a word with a small local ISP, they are less likely to rip you off and you will get good service. They will be able to register a domain if your company doesn't already have one.

Here's a good example with fair prices http://www.interdart.com/content/int.../products/mail
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Old 27th February, 2004, 08:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaitain
LDAP?
LDAP? Err.. I suppose you could do email over LDAP, but I'm not sure you'd find a client that would support it.

LDAP's often used as a directory system, for storing all sorts of interesting detail about people. I've seen one or two products that also use LDAP to store configuration data.

LDAP stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. Yes, it's ightweight compared to X.400, but that's like calling a London Bus lightweight next to the QE2.
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Old 27th February, 2004, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danrok
Have a word with a small local ISP.
I ended up doing it myself, so I have a mail server running at home. (I have a small netblock worth of IP addresses, so no problem with IP addresses). However, to ensure that mail is not lost, even if the mail server goes down, there's a backup sitting in Germany.
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Old 29th February, 2004, 11:05 AM
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The problem would be that you'd have to set it up to understand the LDAP schema you used to store mail in. I suspect you'd end up putting together a system based around the X.400 standard, at which point in time, you might as well be using DAP rather than LDAP!

LDAP is frequently used to store directory information, so many mail clients know enough to dig out contact information.
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