Running an own email server

Email has become the fundamental communication means by which almost every business and corporate runs. There are lot of paid email services available from big corporates likes Microsoft through their Office 365 offering, Google through Google suite, Zoho mails and many other commercial options.

For a small business, who is starting off and need many email addresses, paid services per user is not an affordable option. In such cases, the easiest option is to go with the email services provided along with hosting and usually comes along with cPanel.

But for some, cPanel based email server is not very appealing with its limited capabilities. For such SMEs, running an own email server is a good option to think of.

The key advantage of running an own email server is:

  • Control – The entire email data is controlled within your infrastructure. There is no risk of data getting exposed to a 3rd party. There is complete control of where you want to host your server.
  • Flexibility – There is tremendous flexibility to different kinds of configuration available for the email server. There is flexibility in what kind of application required for each user.
  • Cost – Cost largely depends on the kind of email server you are using. If going with cheaper options where Capex is low, the only cost involved is to run the server which is substantially cheaper per user, if the number of users is high.

There are few disadvantages and pitfalls of running an email server

  • Setup – Setup and running an email server requires a highly skilled system administrator. It’s far more complicated than running a standard web server stack as there are many moving parts.
  • Downtime – If there is a downtime for the server, it can lead to loss of email.
  • Spam – Any exploit in the server could be misused by a hacker, that can lead to blacklisting the server.

Options for Email Server

Zimbra Collaboration Suite OSE 

Zimba’s collaboration suite is an all-in-one solution for email and other collaboration application such as Chat, Calendar etc. They have an excellent track record of building robust, reliable, feature-rich email solution for a long time.

Icewarp Email Server

IceWarp is a great choice for business email for medium scale companies. It comes with a collaboration feature and rich user-interface for webmail. They don’t have a free option, but the cost is reasonable if you are looking for own hosting.


iRedmail is a simple yet powerful email server software. It is available as open source license and it’s free! It also provides a paid version at a fixed cost called iRedmail easy which has easier installation and upgrade options. The paid option also gets professional support from the company.