Email Servers for Home Users

This page lists some of the best email servers from the perspective of home and small business users. Servers listed here are robust and reliable and will satisfy the needs of a relatively low volume family or home office oriented email hosting setup, although some of the applications listed here can be (and are) used in an enterprise environment.

There are two general categories of mail servers, those used for sending/routing messages (SMTP servers) and those used for delivering messages to end users (POP and IMAP servers). Most of the products listed below provide both functionalities.


Hamster is a free news (NNTP) and mail server for personal, family and workgroup use. Hamster is most often associated with Usenet news, but has excellent implementations of SMTP, POP3 and IMAP. Hamster can connect to multiple mail servers and distribute the incoming mail to user accounts or to local newsgroups. Hamster can pull information from multiple news servers and keep the articles in one list, which is an advantage for readers that cannot handle multiple servers. If you read several newsgroups on different servers you could consolidate them into one list and read them without switching servers. [Price: Free]

Rating: 2.0/5 (67 votes cast)

Winmail Mail Server is an enterprise class mail server software system offering a robust feature set, including extensive security measures. Winmail Server supports SMTP, POP3, IMAP, Webmail, LDAP, multiple domains, SMTP authentication, spam protection, anti-virus protection, SSL/TLS security, RBL ,SPF, SpamAssassin, Network Storage, remote access, Web-based administration, and a wide array of standard email options such as filtering, signatures, real-time monitoring, archiving, and public email folders. It comes in predefined packages for a particular number of users, price starts at $129 for 12 users, followed by $249 for 25 users and up to $1099 for 1000 users.

Rating: 1.5/5 (41 votes cast)

hMailServer is a free, open source e-mail server for Microsoft Windows. It supports all the common e-mail protocols (IMAP, SMTP, POP3) and comes with an easy-to-use COM library that can be used for integration with other software. It also has support for virtual domains, distribution lists, antivirus, antispam, aliases, distributed domains and much more. E-mail data is stored in a database server, MySQL or MS SQL, depending on your choice.

Rating: 1.9/5 (69 votes cast)

From the author of the powerful email client Pegasus Mail comes a powerful email server, Mercury. Mercury is extremely standards-compliant, supporting the major Internet mail-related protocols. The Windows version has special features designed for use in dialup environments. Mercury is extremely feature rich, with especially powerful support for managed mailing lists. Like any server product, Mercury is slightly more complex to install than a simple mail client, but only moderate experience with connecting to the Internet is required. Mercury is intended to be largely unobtrusive and needs little ongoing maintenance. [Price: Free]

Rating: 2.0/5 (45 votes cast)

MDaemon contains full mail server functionality and control with a strong emphasis on security to protect your email communication needs. [Minimum Price (6 users): $110]

Rating: 2.2/5 (40 votes cast)

ArgoSoft mail server is fully functional SMTP/POP3/Finger (Pro version also has IMAP module) server for Windows 95/98/NT/2000, which will let you turn your computer into the email system. It's very compact, takes about 1-5 Mb of disk space (depending on the version), does not have any specific memory requirements, and it's very easy to use. The free version comes with a web interface and supports up to 5 users. [Minimum Price: Free]

Rating: 2.1/5 (37 votes cast)

Merak Email Server is an award winning, reliable and easy to administer server with support for SMTP/POP3/IMAP4/HTTP/LDAP/Jabber/Proxy/SSL. It is used by many ISPs and corporations. It comes with a simple and user-friendly administration panel and it is also possible to manage it remotely using the same console or the web-based access or API. It supports multiple domains. [Minimum Price (basic server without any fancy add-ons + integrated webmail): $150]

Rating: 2.0/5 (40 votes cast)

Ability Mail Server is an advanced, secure, high performing mail server for Windows 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP and 2003. With support for all standard mail protocols, including SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, LDAP and WebMail, the software can meet the needs of almost any business or home user. Ability Mail Server is fully scalable with support for unlimited users and domains, ODBC and clustering. The mail server also includes strong SPAM protection, on-server antivirus scanning, Content Filtering and much more.

Rating: 2.0/5 (40 votes cast)

Mail Enable Standard (Free Personal Version) is a mail server for Windows NT/2000/XP. It supports SMTP and POP3, an unlimited amount of email addresses, domains, groups and mailing lists. It comes with powerful relay control options, SMTP authentication, APOP authentication and several anti-spam measures. The program makes uses of the MMC console, thereby integrates into Windows. All the configurations are available from an easy to use interface and can be cerified, using the built in diagnostic utility. The free version is ideal for users who need the power and stability of a high performance mail server, but require only basic email services such as POP, SMTP, standard spam protection, list server & auto-responders. [Price: Free]

Rating: 2.2/5 (35 votes cast)


There are several popular MTAs (Mail Transfer Agents, or SMTP servers in this case) for *nix systems. Sendmail is the oldest one and most widespread. However, sendmail has had many security problems and many find it difficult to configure. The best MTA choice is the small, fast and easily configurable Exim, which is becoming the most trusted product in this area and is being deployed across a wide range of sites. Other products to look at are postfix and qmail. All of these are free.

Cyrus IMAP Server provides access to personal mail and system-wide bulletin boards through the IMAP protocol. The Cyrus IMAP server is a scalable enterprise mail system designed for use from small to large enterprise environments using standards-based technologies.

A full Cyrus IMAP implementation allows a seamless mail and bulletin board environment to be set up across multiple servers. It differs from other IMAP server implementations in that it is run on "sealed" servers, where users are not normally permitted to log in. The mailbox database is stored in parts of the file system that are private to the Cyrus IMAP system. All user access to mail is through software using the IMAP, POP3, or KPOP protocols.

The private mailbox database design gives the server large advantages in efficiency, scalability, and administratability. Multiple concurrent read/write connections to the same mailbox are permitted. The server supports access control lists on mailboxes and storage quotas on mailbox hierarchies.

Rating: 2.1/5 (39 votes cast)

Courier mail transfer agent (MTA) is an integrated mail/groupware server based on open commodity protocols, such as ESMTP, IMAP, POP3, LDAP, SSL, and HTTP. Courier provides ESMTP, IMAP, POP3, webmail, and mailing list services within a single, consistent, framework. Individual components can be enabled or disabled at will. Courier now implements basic web-based calendaring and scheduling services integrated in the webmail module. Courier can also provide mail services for virtual mail accounts, managed by an LDAP, MySQL, or PostgreSQL-based authentication database.

Rating: 2.3/5 (32 votes cast)

Courier-IMAP is a fast, scalable, enterprise IMAP server that uses Maildirs. The primary advantage of maildirs is that multiple applications can access the same Maildir simultaneously without requiring any kind of locking whatsoever. Courier IMAP Server is the same IMAP server that's included in the Courier mail server, but configured as a standalone IMAP server that can be used with other mail servers - such as Qmail, Exim, or Postfix - that deliver to maildirs. A Courier/Postfix combination is very popular.

Rating: 2.7/5 (35 votes cast)

Binc IMAP is a well designed, modular IMAP server for Maildir. Its goals are to be secure, stable, and fast, yet flexible and easy to maintain. Binc IMAP compiles and runs on RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE and Debian Linux, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Solaris/SunOS, Mac OS X, and more. Binc IMAP is a quality driven project and strives to be a rock solid server.

Rating: 2.3/5 (34 votes cast)

Cross Platform

Dwarf Mail Server is a full-featured mail server developed on the Java platform, implementing SMTP, POP3 and IMAP4rev1 protocols. It provides support for rich application message processing via pluggable mail filters and agents, as well as full handling of virtual domains for the SMTP/POP3/IMAP4 protocols, and is free of charge for the binary redistribution. It is targeted at both end users who are just looking for simple, secure and robust mail server as well as advanced or enterprise users who can additionally appreciate performance scalability, multiple domain handling, enhanced security features and modular design making it easy to incorporate it to the existing infrastructure.

Rating: 2.3/5 (35 votes cast)

Kerio Connect (formerly Kerio Mailserver) is the award-winning, leading alternative to Microsoft Exchange for medium and small businesses. Kerio Connect brings business-class email, shared calendars and contact management to most email clients, web browsers and mobile devices at a fraction of the cost and IT overhead. With integrated anti-virus, powerful anti-spam, built-in archiving, automated backup and an easy admin interface, Kerio Connect gives businesses everything they need for secure email and messaging in one low cost package. It runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

Rating: 2.4/5 (29 votes cast)

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