Catch-All

Catch-all email means you will never miss a message again. Email is still one of in the most important ways that most businesses communicate with their customers. That’s why your email account is so crucial for your website.

The catch-all email feature is one of many tools which are there to help you better manage your emails. What it does is a kind of email forwarding, but with one key difference. It picks up any emails sent to inactive or incorrect email addresses on your domain name and forwards them to a single mailbox that you choose. It’s a simple way of ensuring that important emails get to you, even if they’re incorrectly addressed.

Catch-all email forwarding lets you pick up emails for mailboxes that don’t even exist. Well, they exist in name if nothing more. This means that you can tell your customers to send their sales queries to [email protected] or support queries to [email protected] They’ll think that you have separate departments—even if you are just a one-man (or woman) band—which might be good for enhancing your business in their eyes.

The other benefit of catch-all email is that if someone gets your email address wrong then the message will still be forwarded to your main inbox anyway. People are only human, so mistakes are bound to happen, but this way, mistyping won’t lead to you missing out on an important communication.

Dovecot

Security is paramount for any email server, and it was at the forefront of the developers minds’ when they created Dovecot. But that’s not all this open-source IMAP and POP3 email server offers.

This is designed for Linux/UNIX-like systems, and it’s ideal for installations on both a big and small scale. Dovecot is quick, easy to configure, has no special demands for administration, and places little strain on memory.

Sounds good? Let’s take a closer look at Dovecot’s biggest advantages.

High performance

Dovecot is recognized as one of the top-performing IMAP servers available today, while it still offers support for standard Maildir and mbox formats. Mailboxes are indexed transparently, ensuring Dovecot provides a high standard of performance and offers complete compatibility with current mailbox handling tools.

Compliance with standards

Dovecot is compliant with key standards: v1.1 has passed all of the tests for standard compliance required of IMAP servers. That’s so notable because most of the alternatives available fail a lot of them.

The power of self-optimization

With Dovecot, its indexes are self-optimizing and contain what’s commonly required by the user’s client.

Healing for self-addressing problems

Dovecot is designed to self-heal: it attempts to resolve the majority of issues (e.g. index files which break) it detects independently. However, any problems noticed are logged, empowering administrators with the means to trace issues’ source of origin at a later point.

Designed to be admin-friendly

Dovecot has been built to offer a high level of admin-friendliness. As a result, common messages alerting users to errors are typically streamlined to be as easy to understand as possible. All crashes, despite their cause, will be classified as a bug to be fixed.

Compatibility with clustered file systems

With Dovecot, mailboxes and their respective indexes can be adjusted by numerous computers simultaneously — without hindering performance.

That means Dovecot functions impressively with clustered file systems. NES may have problems with caching, but users may be able to find a way around them thanks to director proxies.

Authentication is flexible

The user authentication afforded by Dovecot is highly flexible and rich with features. It’s capable of supporting a variety of authentication databases and key mechanisms.

Association with Postfix and Exim

Users of Postfix 2.3 plus or Exim 4.64 plus can run SMTP authentication directly against the Dovecot authentication backend, with no need for separate configuration.

Simple migration

With Dovecot, migration from most currently-available IMAP and POP3 servers is simple. That means the change is transparent to its existing user base.

Support for workarounds

With Dovecot, workarounds for a number of IMAP and POP3 client bugs are supported. You can activate only those you actually need, though, as they can lead to suboptimal protocol exchange.

High security

The design and implementation of Dovecot have a tight focus on security. It’s incredibly unlikely that anyone will be able to find a gap in Dovecot’s security, which should provide users with the peace of mind they need.

Easy extensibility

Another benefit of Dovecot is its easy extensibility. You can add plugins to introduce new commands, adjust current behaviors, inject your data into index files, and also add support for alternative mailbox formats. For example, both quota and ACL support can be introduced as plugins.

Email Alias

An Email Alias is a second email address that you can use alongside the main one you set up with your email account. You can send messages with it but then they’ll appear in your main inbox, which means you can set up lots of aliases for different functions and then check all of them in one place. Looking at it this way, an alias works just like email forwarding.

Aliases are simple and effective to use and setting them up doesn’t require you to create any new mailboxes and accounts.

If you have a website with an email address on its domain then it’s worth checking with your provider to see if they allow you to use aliases and if so, how many.

The alias Isn’t really a mailbox, so you can’t access it. All it does is redirect mail to your main email address.

For example, if your email is [email protected] you can create an alias like [email protected] and use it only for business communications. This gives your business an email address that’s consistent with your branding, but all the emails you receive will come to the main one – [email protected]

You can create as many aliases for this domain as your provider will let you, each one of them serving a different purpose.

You can also create aliases for other domains as long as they haven’t been taken by anyone else. For example, you could use [email protected] as an alias that points to [email protected]

If your main email address ever changes in future, then you just change the alias to point to it.

Email Autoresponder

An email autoresponder is a useful piece of software that sends out an automatic response to any emails that find their way to your inbox. It helps you to get in touch with people on your mailing list automatically, so you can send them automated marketing messages and notifications with these.

The first use of autoresponders was to let people know when their emails couldn’t be delivered. Email autoresponders can usually be set up and managed very easily using automated web interfaces. Many free tools are available that help you monitor the response to your replies, too.

An email autoresponder is versatile, but they’re mostly used for sending newsletters for marketing purposes. If someone writes to you after receiving your newsletter then the autoresponder will send them a standard message, thanking them and letting them know that you will get back to them within a certain amount of time (or whatever).

And email responder also lets you manage subscriptions, send relevant information out or tell customers about special offers at the times you tell it to. It’s a really easy way to let customers know about your products and services, but you can’t set it and forget it completely, because it’s important to ensure that your messages aren’t mistaken for SPAM. You definitely keep an eye on how your messages are being received to avoid that.

Email Forwarding

Email forwarding means you need never miss an email again. If you want to switch email provider and use a different account, then email forwarding is an ideal way of making sure that you still receive all the mail that goes to your old inboxes. It also helps you to easily manage all your email messages in one place. So, if you switch the email provider or housing provider for your site then you won’t be lumbered with the need to create new email accounts. Just check to ensure that your new host offers mail forwarding options first.

Email forwarding is useful for both the redirecting and resending of individual emails that would normally be done manually. It also automates the redirection of all emails from one account to another. Hosting and email providers usually offer simple interfaces to let you quickly set up email forwarding, so it needn’t be difficult.

You should normally only specify the email addresses that you need. Hosting providers sometimes offer email forwarding as either a free or paid service depending on what plan you’re on. If you have old email accounts that you don’t check regularly or know that you won’t use anymore then setting up forwarding to your main email inbox makes perfect sense.

Email Virus Protection

Email antivirus protection is so important because email is one of the main avenues for getting into someone’s computer uninvited. If someone wants to send you a virus, then email is probably going to be the first route they’ll try.

It goes without saying then, that if you use email then you need a reliable email anti-virus protection service that will scan all incoming and outgoing messages (and any attached files) so that nothing malicious can get its claws into your computer or your email servers.

There are many email antivirus solutions, most popular are Kaspersky, Dr.Web and ClamAV.

ClamAV is great resource that was designed specifically for scanning email gateways. ClamAV is a multifunctional, cross-platform software solution, that’s among the most effective out there. ClamAV draws from a huge virus database that is constantly being updated. It offers command-line on demand scanning, multi-threaded daemon, and support for most email and document formats. ClamAV gives your email account total antivirus protection, successfully detecting and removing any malware and viruses before they have a chance to hit your mailbox.

Horde

Horde is groupware, available for free via web browsers. Its components rest on Horde’s PHP-based framework, which delivers elements crucial to the fast development of web applications.

The range of applications available through Horde includes: the Horde IMP email client; time software for tracking tasks; a wiki; and a package comprising notes, calendar, tasks and a file manager.

The framework started as the Internet Messaging Project (IMP) webmail published on Freshmeat by Chuck Hagenbuch, way back in 1998. However, constant feature requests (many of which were unsuitable for a webmail application) necessitated the development of a web app backbone that was more generic.

Version 1.3.3. of the Horde framework was announced on Freshmeat at the start of 2001, which was followed by Horde 2.0 and IMP 3.0 (the first with two completely separate components).

As a generic web app framework, Horde mainly provided support for webmail, but with Horde 3.0’s release in 2004, it also became a groupware application set. Its flexible, modular structure enabled numerous service providers and packagers to add this software into their own portfolios with ease.

Horde is utilized for webmail provided by SAPO, serving millions of users, and the software has been packaged for every main Linux distribution. Also, it can be found as a component in such hosting tools as cPanel or Plesk.

Horde 4.0’s 2011 release introduced substantial architectural changes, support for mobile devices, and a breakdown into almost 100 PEAR packages.

However, one of the most notable events in Horde’s history occurred in early 2012, as the final Horde 3.0 maintenance release was undergoing preparation. Developers realized that hackers had managed to break through the FTP server’s security and implemented a backdoor into multiple distributed packages.

It was believed this previously-undetected attack had occurred a few months earlier. Eventually, one of the packages tained was picked up by Debian and Ubuntu’s Unstable branches, before being fixed quickly once the attack had been disclosed. The hackers made no modifications to the Horde 4 sources, though.

IMAP

IMAP is short for Internet Message Access Protocol, and it’s a popular alternative POP3. That’s another message protocol. IMAP differs from POP3 because it keeps all your emails on their server until you decide to delete them. It’s generally considered to be better for accessing your emails online. They are only saved to your computer if you decide to download them. You can choose which protocol you prefer and whether or not to download your emails when you’re setting up your email client.

IMAP lets you get at your emails from anywhere, so long as you have an Internet connection. Your emails live on the mail server, so they are effectively backed up and safer than if you keep them yourself. Of course, the downside is that you do need a reliable connection, so, if you live somewhere remote then you might want to take that into account. IMAP can give simultaneous mailbox access to multiple users and it comes with additional options for email management functions like search, email state information, multiple mailboxes, shared folders etc.

Mailing Lists

Mailing list is a great tool because it lets you send the same email message to any number of recipients at the same time. As you can imagine, this makes what would have been a massively laborious process a lot quicker and a lot easier.

To send an email to all of the addresses on your list, all you need to do is send it to the email reflector.  This is a program that acts like a broadcaster, because it forwards your email to all of the names on the distribution list.

If you need to send identical notifications or newsletters to a lot of users, a mailing list will significantly cut down on the amount of time you need to spend on that job.

Mailing lists are largely automatic in what they do so there isn’t much user input required. Some mailing lists do give extra functionality though, like letting users subscribe, unsubscribe and modify their preferences.

Things like newsletters are treated as one-directional messages, but there are also things like discussion lists that can work both ways. These let subscribers contact each other, which is great because customers really appreciate extra features like this.

If you want to add features like these to your mailing list, try using one of the open source PHP mailing list management programs like phplist or poMMo. But do be careful when you set up your email marketing strategy. It’s all too easy to get things wrong and consign your messages to the SPAM folder.

MX Record

MX Record a short for Mail Exchanger Record. The Domain Name System uses it to associate a particular domain name with emails, so that when someone sends an email to your domain, the MX records route it to the correct server so that you can retrieve it.

You don’t need to limit yourself to one MX record. You can have many which point to other servers (typically backup servers) to ensure that your emails will get through if one of them fails. So, the single domain can use many email servers, making your emails more secure and ensuring that they get you quicker. An MX record is always needed to send email via the Internet, and they come pre-configured when you register your domain.

You can edit existing MX records or create new ones by going to your domain name provider and typing your domain name into the name field in the DNS settings of your control panel.

The Type field should always be set to MX. The Class field should say IN (Internet), and the TTL should be in seconds. TTL means “Time to Live” and shows how much time is needed to update a record.

The Priority (Preference) field will be important when you create additional MX records, because it lets you assign different priorities to servers, so that when one of them isn’t working, request will always be passed onto the next one. The highest-ranking email server will be contacted first, and if that doesn’t work then it’s on to the next.

Lastly, the Data/Server field displays the hostname of your domain’s mail server.