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Setting up your own mail service - introduction

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Why do you need your own mail service?

if you ever thought about owning your own mail service, then, perhaps, you need one. It's not that hard to set up and maintain, as it could seem. In fact, I will lead you through the process of setting it up, in case you need it.

So, why not to use popular, well-known mail services such as Google Mail?

To me, primary purpose of having one's own mail service is privacy. Nowadays, private life of users isn't guaranteed, isn't protected. On the contrary, a principle «you have nothing to hide in case you do nothing wrong» is introduced into people's minds. However, privacy us your right, still fomally guaranteed by many constitutions in many countries, so why not to take what you have right to have?

Goals of this tutorial

After having complete this tutorial, you will learn how to

  • set up secure mail server (both incoming and outgoing mail services)
  • how to keep your email secure, back it up and import from another provider
  • how to set up all suggested email authentication techniques, such as DKIM
  • how to maintain your private email service and protect your privacy

Apart from buying VPS ro cloud server to set up all the mentioned services on, all the rest is free of charge.

Interested? Just leave me a note (comment) to this post if yes. That would help me much when building this and other tutorials.

Bricks of the wall

Here are components of the mail service I will build during the tutorial.

1. Hosting. You would need a VPS or cloud server. Select any one from reliable hoster, with 256MB of RAM available (512MB if you would use automated virus scanning on server side). If you are in doubt, contact me or browse I recommend page.

Personally, I would suggest using inexpensive fast VPS provider such as Digital Ocean. Note: if you register via affiliate link I mentioned, you can rely upon my assistance in setting mail services/other services on your VPS(es) at Digital Ocean.

2. Service components. The below pieces of software will be used to build mail service:

  • Exim, fast, robust and easy to tune MTA (mail transfer agent) — outgoing/incoming email processing (SMTP server)
  • Dovecot, fast and reliable incoming email (MAP/POP3) server
  • Dspam, powerful, easily trained piece of software to recognize and mark spam messages
  • ClamAV, free virus scanner
  • Procmail, useful tool to deliver/sort email

Other free open sources pieces of software will also be used, I use Debian 7+/Ubuntu Server (12.04 LTS at the moment) or CentOS 6.x for my servers, so the tutorial will cover, when complete, all these.

In the next chapter: setting up VPS for the first time and installing required software.