Last week I installed Windows 2008 Server Standard on one of our dedicated Servers. So far I really like it, IIS7 seems to be pretty nice and the administration features evolved a lot. I also like the improved Remote Desktop, it’s logging in way quicker and feels more smooth than before. The installation itself had been a piece of cake, even the beta drivers of our 3Ware RAID-1 Controller are working flawless. Although we plugged in 8GB of RAM but we can only use 4GB as we have to use the 32-Bit Edition of Windows 2008 Server. Some payment gateways do not provide 64-Bit Software yet and that’s why we had to stick with the rusty 32-Bit bits, but it’s ok.
After setting up a couple of ASP.NET Webs we had to take care about the E-Mail delivery. These days you should carefully choose your Mailserver as the ropes of E-Mail Delivery are very much tightned. So besides of avoiding spam filters with your ASP.NET Application you have to be even more critical about your Mailserver.
Windows 2008 Server comes with a build-in SMTP Service which is still running on old IIS6 bits, that’s one of a couple of services depending on IIS6, so it’s still installed. Comparing the IIS6 and IIS7 Administration-Consoles is like comparing 2 different worlds. After playing a bit around with it I wasn’t able to set it up as a perfect mail delivery service. I think it only works great if you can bump your mails to an external, dedicated SMTP Service. Another drawback is that there’s no POP3 Service anymore coming with Windows 2008 Server. So afterall you need a standalone Mailserver anyway if you want to use POP3.
Not all of us are blessed by having a dedicated Microsoft Exchange Server which is taking care of all the mailing stuff. Installing it on our current Windows 2008 Server system would steal to many resources which are desperately needed for our high traffic webs.
We can’t use Google Apps as they are limiting the outgoing mails to 500 per day (per Account). Of course we could work around that by using several Accounts and run a counter on the sent mails but we wanted to use something bullet proof using just one e-mail address like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mercury Mailserver is a free standalone Mailserver of the creator of Pegasus Mail. It’s pretty light but offers SMTP, POP3 and even IMAP. Although we ran into pretty heavy DNS problems while using it and it ran somewhat unstable on Windows 2008 Server. Another drawback is that it’s not coming along with a Windows Service, there are some addons for that but it’s just too unstable.
There are a couple of other free Mailservers like hMailServer and Surge but none of them ran stable on Windows 2008 Server, it looks like they’re not compatible yet to the Vista-Like-Architecture.
So we ended up with Kerio Mailserver. It’s already Vista compatible and runs great on Windows 2008 Server. It has a lot of features, in fact more than we needed, but it’s still smaller as Microsoft Exchange. Although it’s also not that cheap, but at least our proper Mail delivery is guaranteed – which is very important for stuff like Activation Mails. The alternative would have been Smartermail which is based on ASP.NET, but we went for Kerio this time as we have had good experiences with it in the past.
If anyone of you guys got additional information or tipps on this topic, feel free to leave a comment! As of know there’s no free Mailserver for Windows 2008 Server available, at least the ones I found didn’t run stable yet.