An email server, also known as a mail exchanger, is responsible for handling the incoming and outgoing emails for a domain name so that the emails sent to addresses under the domain can be received and so that the owners of those email addresses are able to send out their own emails. Most web hosting packages come with a certain number of email accounts that you can create as per your wish – if you choose dedicated web hosting then you will be able to choose between having a mail server installed on your server or using your VPS server or dedicated server for other purposes.
A mail server is an application designed to deal with emails in all ways – there are many mail server applications available for Linux and Windows servers all designed for use with email, but with different purposes to an extent. Popular mail server applications for Linux servers include Sendmail and Zimbra; Zimbra is an open source collaboration system meaning that it encompasses a wide variety of features to assist with the management of emails – Sendmail on the other hand is a simple open source mail server designed to deal with incoming and outgoing emails only, it can however be integrated with other applications. Microsoft Exchange Server is a popular collaboration suite for Windows servers and is also able to offer a wider variety of features such as webmail servers, but for the simpler user there are free alternatives such as Microsoft POP3 Server, which is part of the Windows Server operating system.
Email is an important method of communication these days for both businesses and individuals. Businesses rely on email to allow them to communicate with their suppliers and customers as it offers them a constant method of contact that can be used whenever, wherever an internet connection is available. Individuals rely on email to allow them to contact businesses with enquiries, and similarly it is a good method of staying in contact with other people. It was thought that email would be a medium that would have been wiped out by Instant Messaging, but instead IM has been slowly dying whilst the use of email has been on the increase recently.
Email servers for domain names are found through the use of MX records, something that is setup for every domain that wishes to receive emails. In order for an email to be received, the server responsible for sending the email first does a DNS lookup on the destination domain name to find the email servers that responsible for the domain name, from there the sending server will then contact the destination server to enquire about the existence of the destination mailbox – if the mailbox exists then the destination server will then deliver the email to the inbox, if the mailbox doesn’t exist then the message will simply be bounced back to the sending account. There are also other checks that may be made by the recipient mail server such as seeing whether or not the sending server is on an RBL list and whether an SPF record has been defined for the sending domain.
A dedicated email server is always an option if you are a larger business that has to deal with a large email throughput – in such a situation a specialist storage arrangement may also be seen as beneficial. Dedicated email servers will be able to handle large amounts of email and of course the higher the specification of the server, the more emails your server will be able to handle daily. If you are looking to keep the emails that you send and receive then you may wish to consider setting up a storage cluster as well as this will allow you to keep a large archive of emails that have been sent and received. By using a storage cluster you will be able to add additional storage as you see fit.
In conclusion, an email server is an integral part of any web hosting package as it is required for the sending and receiving of emails. Although an email server application will be installed on a server with other services such as web servers and DNS servers in a shared hosting situation, if you are to use a VPS server or dedicated server then you are provided with the flexibility of being able to setup a dedicated email server if you see this as fitting for your requirements.