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  1. Cyba.Cowboy's Avatar
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       #1  
    At the moment, my wife and I own two different domains, linked to Google Apps which among other things, gives us the "GMail" interface, native contact synchronization, IMAP and ActiveSync-based e-mail, plus the ability to use virtually all of Google's services with the e-mail address from our own personal domain...

    But we've never paid for the "premium" version of Google Apps, because the current pricing structure is simply too expensive when the domains are used for personal (and not business) reasons.

    The primary reason we have this setup is so that our calendar, contacts and mail are synchronized via various devices using a combination of IMAP and ActiveSync protocols.

    Now, to get to the point...

    Google sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago indicating that the "free" version of Google Apps is being discontinued which doesn't affect us directly (it only applies to new customers) and in my opinion, it would be reasonable to expect that at some point Google will start charging fees for customers currently using the "free" version of Google Apps.

    I've been um-ing and ah-ing about setting-up my own mail server at home for a while now, primarily because not only would it give me more control over my mail setup, but it would come with a long-term availability guarantee that Google Apps cannot provide (as the last few days have shown)... This recent announcement by Google has just encouraged me to look into my own mail server more closely.

    So, what would I actually need to run my own mail server, and what sort of costs are involved in such a setup?

    What about ongoing costs (which I suspect is going to be the biggest "oh-oh" point)?

    We currently have two domains (one for my wife's surname, one for mine) and whilst I'd like to retain both, I would probably get rid of my domain and move to the wife's if it was going to make a significant difference in the setup or ongoing cost.

    I'm just trying to get a grasp of what sort of costs I'd be looking at, because my own mail server is my preferred setup, and I'd like to investigate the feasibility of this before I start looking to alternatives (e.g. a Hosted Exchange)...
  2. palandri's Avatar
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    #2  
    You would need to run a server 24/7 at your house, something like Ubuntu server would be the cheapest route. The best route would be to go to a host like 1and1.com and have them host your domain for a mail server.
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  3. Cyba.Cowboy's Avatar
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       #3  
    With regards to compatibility, how would Ubuntu go with compatibility?
    Currently everyone in my household uses Android devices, though I am moving to either BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone 8 (most likely the latter) due to the superior usage times offered by both… It is possible that my wife may eventually transition to Windows Phone 8 is she’s happy with the Lumia 8 I’m currently considering, though the kids will stay where they are for a while.

    Also, being Linux, Ubuntu would be pretty tricky to configure and whatnot, wouldn’t?
    Don’t get me wrong, I know my way around computers (including Linux) – probably better than the vast majority of people here – but I’m no wizard and I don’t want to be spending days on end typing commands into Terminal…
    I’ve never used Microsoft server software first-hand, but my understanding is that it’s pretty easy and straightforward to configure – am I wrong in this assumption?

    As for the hosted route you suggested, that eliminates my direct control of my domains and whilst it is an option, it’s a “backup” option at this stage…
  4. palandri's Avatar
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    #4  
    I really hate to tell you to google setting up a mail server, but if I didn't, I would simply be repeating what someone else has already posted on the net.

    Compatibility? It's a mail server. They all function under the same set of rules.

    If you use any major distribution of Linux, you'll set the email server up through a GUI (Graphical User Interface) It's no different from Windows nowadays. You won't be setting it up through a shell.

    I have no idea what you're talking about when you say you'll lose control of the domain by having it hosted. You don't lose any control over your domain that I can think of.

    I am in an adult PC gaming group and we build our own gaming servers and have them hosted at a data center. We've used Linux and Windows for game hosting, web hosting and email hosting.
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  5. Cyba.Cowboy's Avatar
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       #5  
    Perhaps “capabilities” is a better word (as opposed to “compatibility”) because as you point out, it’s a mail server… Everything’s compatible.
    I was originally considering a BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) setup, but that seems like overkill and much to my surprise, pretty much everything operates via Microsoft ActiveSync these days, which in my first-hand experience seems to do a pretty good job…

    So then the question becomes, is Ubuntu Server able to utilize an ActiveSync-compatible setup?

    As for the “losing control” part, I meant with regards to the ability… Running my own mail server directly, I should be able to configure every last aspect of the setup, though as I understand it, a hosted solution will not allow this?
    But I suppose the question I should really be asking is, am I likely to require this sort of power with regards to my mail server? Do I really need the ability to configure every last aspect, or will most hosted solutions give me more than enough options to configure?
  6. DuncanF62's Avatar
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    #6  
    I used to run my own server (Exchange 2003 on SBS) many moons ago. The cost in electricity made it very expensive. I've now moved my domain to an Office 365 Plan P1 at around GBP 4/month per mailbox. At that cost I'm happy for MS to take the strain of maintenance of Exchange, patching, backups, fault tolerance etc..

    Try a 30-day trial to see if it gives you the control you are after. The one thing I would say, having trialled Google also, is that the admin interface is way more intuitive.
  7. Cyba.Cowboy's Avatar
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       #7  
    Yeah, I’ve been reading-up on a fair bit of stuff tonight and for what I require, Google Apps looks to be a lot cheaper – though for just $2 less (a year), I can actually get Microsoft Online Exchange.
    Of course Google Apps also comes with its productivity software, but we tried that for a while (it's part of the free version of Google Apps, too) and in my opinion, it is rubbish compared to Microsoft Office or even OpenOffice.org!

    I looked at a couple of "managed Exchange" services, but pretty much all of them are the same as or in some cases, more than Microsoft's Online Exchange service... Begging the question of why you would bother (with a managed Exchange)?

    I sorta know Linux and this would be a great option (particularly Ubuntu Server), but in my line of work, I'm lucky to get a weekend off, let alone the time to configure everything...

    I do have one question though – if I was to move the domains over to Microsoft Online Exchange though, we'd need to archive/delete/print all of the e-mails in our inboxes at the moment, wouldn't we?
    I know this was the case when I moved the domains over to Google Apps, and it should be the same if I move them Microsoft Online Exchange, right?
  8. paulm187's Avatar
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    #8  
    I have a personal domain and point the MX records to the Windows Live/Hotmail mail servers by registering with Windows Live Admin Centre. Its easy and free and works like a charm!. Check out the following link

    Setting up Windows Live Custom Domains for your email

    Windows Live Admin Centre
    https://domains.live.com/manage/default.aspx
  9. DuncanF62's Avatar
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    #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyba.Cowboy View Post
    I do have one question though – if I was to move the domains over to Microsoft Online Exchange though, we'd need to archive/delete/print all of the e-mails in our inboxes at the moment, wouldn't we?
    I know this was the case when I moved the domains over to Google Apps, and it should be the same if I move them Microsoft Online Exchange, right?
    There is a bulk import option for mail into Office 365 as part of the setup. Certainly from other Exchange servers and I presume it works for other services too.

    Interesting about the free domain option with Hotmail/Outlook. That sounds like a good bet too.
  10. Cyba.Cowboy's Avatar
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       #10  
    Yeah, I thought the Microsoft Hotmail option was interesting too, and one can't argue that it's going to disappear anytime soon, considering Microsoft have kept Hotmail running all these years, despute losing considerable market share to third parties (namely Google, with it's GMail service).

    After discussing this topic here and elsewhere however, Google Apps for Business or Microsoft Exchange Online looks to be the most feasible option... Though I think Microsoft Exchange Online is the better option, since we mostly use Microsoft software, we're not big fans of Google Docs (or Google "Drive", as it is now known) and it costs $2 less than the Google alternative.
  11. DuncanF62's Avatar
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    #11  
    Well you can try Office 365 for free for 30-days. So there's no risk going down that path.

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