How to set up your own Mail Server (Visual guide)

Google, Yahoo, Hotmail …, chances are almost every single one of us have an email account and have used it for work/ communication/ study and much more. Also chances are that we have sent an email to someone across the world, or have received the odd mail from Nigerian princes and the like! But for whatever purpose, and regardless of the distance that the email had to travel, the process works so fast and is so common that very few of us ever stop to think for a second of how it all actually works. In this article we will try to find out and answer the questions of what is a mail server and more interestingly, how to set up your own mail server!

  • What is a Mail Server?

A mail server is a computer system that sends and receives email. In many cases, web servers and mail servers are combined in a single machine. However, large ISPs and public email services (such as Gmail and Hotmail) may use dedicated hardware for sending and receiving email. Every email that is sent passes through a series of mail servers along its way to its intended recipient. Although it may seem like a message is sent instantly, the reality however is that a complex series of transfers takes place. Without this series of mail servers, you would only be able to send emails to people whose email address domains matched your own – i.e., you could only send messages from one example.com account to another example.com account.

But how could you set up your own E-mail server? There are a number of ways, and in this article we will explain the simplest ways to do it on Windows.

  • How to set up your own E-mail Server:
Option A) hMailServer

hMailServer is one of the best free, open-source email servers for Windows which is commonly used by ISPs, governments, educational institutions and more. The advantage is that it also comes with built-in spam control by SpamAssassin and supports a fast and easy download/Installation.

Step 1) Go to hMailServer and go to “download” on top of the page

Step 2) Download the latest version

Step 3) When you’ve downloaded it, run the Installer. In the below screen, select “Server” only if you want your local computer to work as a server. If you set up a server elsewhere, only select “Administrative tools” to remotely manage that server.

hmailserver-install-server-or-admin

Step 4) you will have to set up a password during installation.

Note: Since you will need it every time you launch the application we would highly recommend writing it down somewhere safe.

Connect hMailServer Administrator

Step 5) once the dashboard is open, enter a new website domain (with SMTP enabled from a hosting provider). After creating the domain, head towards “Protocols” followed by “SMTP.” Here, you must set up the Local host name as “localhost.”

Localhost SMTP settings in hMailServer Administrator

Step 6) finally, click the “Accounts” item. Here, you can create an email address for which you need prior access to a top-level domain name and its DNS settings. Basically, every time you send an email, the message first gets stored in hMailServer and is later relayed to the IP address of the DNS.

You can also enable options for auto-reply, forwarding, greylisting, DNS blacklists and more in hMailServer. But, we will reserve these options for the below step. Once your email server has been successfully set up, you will need a client like Thunderbird or Outlook Express to read/write those emails.

Option B) Set up hosted e-mail using Thunderbolt client:

Step 1) Download and install Mozilla Thunderbird. Here, you have to set up an email account. Use the same email ID and password that you would normally use with the web-hosting provider.

thunderbird-set-up-1

Step 2) In the next screen, you are going to fine-tune your Thunderbird client settings by clicking “Manual Config”.

At this stage, you must set up your existing email account. The server hostname should be “localhost,” as you previously enabled those settings with hMailServer. As per hMailServer guidelines, use “143” for IMAP port, “993” for IMAP via SSL/TSL and either “465” or “587” for SMTP port.

Thunderbird Localhost Setting

Step 3) you can also change server settings from the Thunderbird account. Once the email address has been configured with the client, you can readily start using your new web host’s email service.

Server Settings Thunderbird

Step 4) Use Thunderbird mail client to run as many private email instances on hMailServer as you want. The email server is up and running and configured with the original email.

Multiple email accounts Thunderbird

Google, Yahoo, Hotmail …, chances are almost every single one of us have an email account and have used it for work/ communication/ study and much more. Also chances are that we have sent an email to someone across the world, or have received the odd mail from Nigerian princes and the like! But for whatever purpose, and regardless of the distance that the email had to travel, the process works so fast and is so common that very few of us ever stop to think for a second of how it all actually works. In this article we will try to find out and answer the questions of what is a mail server and more interestingly, how to set up your own mail server!

  • What is a Mail Server?

A mail server is a computer system that sends and receives email. In many cases, web servers and mail servers are combined in a single machine. However, large ISPs and public email services (such as Gmail and Hotmail) may use dedicated hardware for sending and receiving email. Every email that is sent passes through a series of mail servers along its way to its intended recipient. Although it may seem like a message is sent instantly, the reality however is that a complex series of transfers takes place. Without this series of mail servers, you would only be able to send emails to people whose email address domains matched your own – i.e., you could only send messages from one example.com account to another example.com account.

But how could you set up your own E-mail server? There are a number of ways, and in this article we will explain the simplest ways to do it on Windows.

  • How to set up your own E-mail Server:
Option A) hMailServer

hMailServer is one of the best free, open-source email servers for Windows which is commonly used by ISPs, governments, educational institutions and more. The advantage is that it also comes with built-in spam control by SpamAssassin and supports a fast and easy download/Installation.

Step 1) Go to hMailServer and go to “download” on top of the page

Step 2) Download the latest version

Step 3) When you’ve downloaded it, run the Installer. In the below screen, select “Server” only if you want your local computer to work as a server. If you set up a server elsewhere, only select “Administrative tools” to remotely manage that server.

hmailserver-install-server-or-admin

Step 4) you will have to set up a password during installation.

Note: Since you will need it every time you launch the application we would highly recommend writing it down somewhere safe.

Connect hMailServer Administrator

Step 5) once the dashboard is open, enter a new website domain (with SMTP enabled from a hosting provider). After creating the domain, head towards “Protocols” followed by “SMTP.” Here, you must set up the Local host name as “localhost.”

Localhost SMTP settings in hMailServer Administrator

Step 6) finally, click the “Accounts” item. Here, you can create an email address for which you need prior access to a top-level domain name and its DNS settings. Basically, every time you send an email, the message first gets stored in hMailServer and is later relayed to the IP address of the DNS.

You can also enable options for auto-reply, forwarding, greylisting, DNS blacklists and more in hMailServer. But, we will reserve these options for the below step. Once your email server has been successfully set up, you will need a client like Thunderbird or Outlook Express to read/write those emails.

Option B) Set up hosted e-mail using Thunderbolt client:

Step 1) Download and install Mozilla Thunderbird. Here, you have to set up an email account. Use the same email ID and password that you would normally use with the web-hosting provider.

thunderbird-set-up-1

Step 2) In the next screen, you are going to fine-tune your Thunderbird client settings by clicking “Manual Config”.

At this stage, you must set up your existing email account. The server hostname should be “localhost,” as you previously enabled those settings with hMailServer. As per hMailServer guidelines, use “143” for IMAP port, “993” for IMAP via SSL/TSL and either “465” or “587” for SMTP port.

Thunderbird Localhost Setting

Step 3) you can also change server settings from the Thunderbird account. Once the email address has been configured with the client, you can readily start using your new web host’s email service.

Server Settings Thunderbird

Step 4) Use Thunderbird mail client to run as many private email instances on hMailServer as you want. The email server is up and running and configured with the original email.

Multiple email accounts Thunderbird

 

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