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KB05070802 A beginner's guide to mail servers

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If you are new to email servers then getting started on running your own email system can seem a pretty daunting task, but Mailtraq is the easiest full-function mail server available: you're in good hands.

This short article will give you the basic knowledge you need to start running your own mail server for your business or organization. It won't make you an expert - but it will explain the basics in simple everyday terms.

If you are already an expert you'll know there are lots of exceptions to just about everything we say below - but that's not the point of this article: for most situations, most of the time what we say will do just fine.

It is all pretty straightforward, but it helps to understand how email flows around the Internet.

When you are through with this article - click here to move on to Features


Email Server - Email Client

You read and write emails using an email client. Email clients send and receive emails to email servers. Email servers send and receive messages to and from other email servers. Mailtraq is an email server.

Common email clients are Outlook™ , Outlook Express™  and Thunderbird™  - but there are lots of them available.

Email clients come in two main types: local or web-based

Local email clients, like Outlook, Outlook Express and Thunderbird are programs that are installed onto each local machine that wants to send or receive email.
They can work in two ways - as POP3 clients or as IMAP clients:

  • In POP3, the client collects the email from Mailtraq and stores it on the local machine.
  • In IMAP the mail is left in Mailtraq and the client looks at the mail stored there.
    The advantage of IMAP is that it is easy to look at your email from more than one location and it is also possible to share your email with colleagues. It is also easiest to Back-up. The IMAP-IDLE protocol means that you can get almost instant notification of new messages (push-email). Read more...
    The disadvantage is that it needs more machine resources, as it holds all your mail in one place so you need adequate storage capacity for your needs.

Web-based clients don't require special programs to be installed on your local machines, they use the ordinary Internet browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc) to present your email. 

For most users, Mailtraq's webmail is a faster, more flexible solution than IMAP as it can be used from any computer, anywhere and still provide Users with access to Contacts and Shared folders. Mailtraq Enhanced Web Access provides an 'Outlook-like' interface when used with IE, as well as a lighter 'Standard' webmail interface for all browsers.

You are probably familiar with Hotmail and Yahoo-mail - these are web-based email clients, and Mailtraq Professional lets you provide your users with  webmail.

Receiving email in Mailtraq

In order for Mailtraq to receive messages for your organization you will have to tell the Internet world 'who you are' and 'where you are'.

This is done using your domain DNS records. The domain is the part of the email address after the @ symbol - for example, ours is:


If you are unfamiliar with DNS read our DNS Primer


Getting started

So, let's take a moment to recap:
You have got an Internet connection with a static IP address and you have set your MX records to point at that address.
You have a computer on that Internet connection and you have downloaded Mailtraq and installed it.

Configure Mailtraq

So - if you have not already done so during Installation, run the
'Getting Started' wizard from the Help menu in the Mailtraq Console.

That takes you through the basic requirements Mailtraq will need to work. You'll be asked answers to the following questions, with an explanation for each.

  • Domain name
  • Your LAN definition
  • How Mailtraq should send mail
  • How Mailtraq will receive mail
  • An initial User eg 'jsmith'

Create 'Users'

You will then need to create a User in Mailtraq for each of the email addresses
you want to use.
(Options | Users - Add, then follow the prompts)

Getting and Sending Emails

It helps to remember that email is transferred from mail server to mail server using SMTP - on Port 25.
Email clients collect mail from Mailtraq - the mail server - and present it to the user, by POP3, IMAP or WebMail.

Confusingly, email clients use SMTP to send email to Mailtraq.

So - Mailtraq receives email for your domain. Mailtraq will route the mail it receives from the Internet to the correct user-mailbox.

Any 'Undelivered mail' (that is, mail for your domain but for which there is not a User's mailbox) will be sent to the Postmaster mailbox in Mailtraq - you can change this at Options | Incoming Mail if you want to.

The emails will then stay in those User mailboxes until called for.

Now, you have to get the mail from the mailbox in Mailtraq to the
networked machines.

On each machine you need to have an email client - say Outlook Express.

You configure each Outlook Express to collect email from Mailtraq . At the same time you tell Outlook Express send email to Mailtraq for onward delivery. For each client, Mailtraq will be the POP3 server and the SMTP server: Mailtraq is responsible for sending, receiving and routing all your mail.

You should now be able to send and receive email from your email client to anyone else.

If you want to keep the mail on the server (i.e. inside Mailtraq) so that it is available from more than one location, then you either need to use Mailtraq's webmail client or use IMAP.

Stopping your outbound messages being rejected
In order to stop messages being rejected as spam you have to prove you are a good guy.

This page explains how -

The key is having your rDNS set up correctly - that will put it right for most people without any further action.

How to do this is linked from the above page, which will take you here:


Sometimes you come across problems and this page will help you sort things out:

If you need help configuring your email client - have a look at which has a section on Client Configuration.


When you are through with this article - click here to move on to the Introduction.


Please let us know if you found this article useful - and if we can improve it at all. Comments to:

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What is a mail server?

A mail server, or an email server - it's the same thing - enables you to send and receive email messages across the Internet. It can be a dedicated piece of equipment or, as in the case of Mailtraq, software that is installed on a Windows computer which then gets called an email server. It is normal for a mail server to be a dedicated machine. That is you shouldn't really use that machine on your network for anything else.

See screenshots

Mailtraq will run happily on a standard Windows computer, such as you might buy today from Dell™ or any other mainstream computer supplier.
A typical machine would have 1GB of RAM and a 80GB hard drive. If you have a bigger or smaller installation than normal you would size the computer accordingly.



No fixed IP address -
what now?

It is really essential to have a fixed IP address to get mail delivered directly to you and so enjoy the full benefits of running your own mail server.

Does your ISP block Port 25?
No fixed IP address?

Use Mailkeep - problem solved!


But if you cannot get a fixed IP address it is possible to use Mailtraq to collect messages from another mailserver (perhaps your ISP's) by setting up a 'Remote POP3 Mailbox' collector in the Mailtraq console.

Mailtraq will then route these messages as if they had arrived direct from the Internet - and you can send mail via your ISP

Find out how to access webmail without a fixed IP address

How should I send mail?


There are two main ways of sending mail from Mailtraq to the outside world. You can send mail directly via MX Resolution or you can send it to your ISP's SMTP server for onward delivery.

If all this is new to you then should send mail via your ISP's SMTP server or Smarthost.

In theory, the best way to send mail is via MX Resolution. This transfers mail directly from Mailtraq to the recipients' mail servers. It is efficient - point to point, and you have full control.

Mailtraq has an excellent SMTP system and will work efficiently for the largest organizations.

In practice, most organizations (except the largest) send their mail to their ISP for onward delivery.

There has been severe abuse of the global email system by spammers and one of the control measures that ISPs have put in place is to require small and medium size users to send mail via their servers.
And - some large organizations, AOL for instance, will not accept emails unless you have a prior agreement.



What next ?

Once you have got the basics of running a mail server under your belt you should start to use some of the many tools that Mailtraq provides to make your system better and more efficient.



One last thing:

Always remember; having a proper back-up strategy for your email system - like any other data - is essential for peace of mind.


Keywords: kb start
Mailtraq Highlights...
 SMTP Server     Mailtraq SMTP email server video IMAP Server     Mailtraq IMAP email Server video
 POP3 Server     Mailtraq POP3 email server video Proxy Server     Mailtraq proxy email server video
 Webmail Server     Mailtraq webmail email server video Mailing-list Server     Mailing list email server video
 Groupware Services     Mailtraq groupware email services video Spam and Virus control     Spam and virus control email server video


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