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Q's about dedicated server and mail server - help appreciated!



11:53 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone

I work at a small website design company, with no knowledge of servers.

We are planning on getting a web server running Apache. This needs to accommodate all our client websites, currently about 500MB but we would like a lot more than this with space for backups of these sites and other non-web client projects.

We also want to have a mail server, to offer clients numerous personal email addresses on numerous different domains via a webmail interface.
For our mail server we need:
- space for several thousands of mailboxes,
- perhaps 100MB space per mailbox,
- HTTP support
- built in virus/spam scanning
- email marketing functionality; sending out ecards etc to lists

Can anyone recommend any web and/or mail servers to suit this spec, or tell me what else I need to look out for/make sure of while I'm trying to choose someone to go with?

Thanks so much!



12:16 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I would suggest that you don't do a colo, do a managed dedicated server. That way someone else looks after the hardware and operating system.

Hardware wise, get what you can afford. It doesn't look like you have anything that a routine webserver can handle. It's unlikely that you'll have to worry about disk size or speed unless you go cheap.

What you should perhaps focus on is getting the right support and admin software for the server. The biggest problem for newbs isn't getting the right hardware, it's figuring out how to do stuff (like add domains, mailboxes, check server load - all the server admin stuff).


1:09 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

thanks v much wheel - see your point 100%, will most companies manage the server for us or is this generally an added cost?

when you say manage, do you mean carry out all tasks (quoting you: "it's figuring out how to do stuff (like add domains, mailboxes, check server load - all the server admin stuff)" )

because we're gonna be constantly needing to do things like that if our project takes off and a lot of people start getting these email addresses, we would really be wanting to handle this ourselves rather than calling a company and asking them to do it -- so is what we are looking for a good well designed and instinctive admin/control panel facility, and reliable tech support team when we aren't sure of how to carry something out on that admin software?


1:26 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Yes, what you said. When it comes to managing servers, be afraid. Be very afraid. The volume of tasks and the complexity is startling. I expect that much can be done through an admmin panel these days, but definitely put some focus on the admin and support.

Who is doing backups? Do you have failover mail servers? Security updates to the os? Etc.

I'm sure there are good solutions out there. I cant give specific solutions because I manage my own at the command prompt - not recommended.


1:46 pm on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

thanks this is really helpful.
well, im putting together a list of questions we need to ask/features we need to ensure are in there, and have included backup and procedures if the server fails - however, im sure every company has their answer to this common question but im not sure of the right one, could you recommend what a good answer would be/a good solution for if the server fails on us, is it that a backup server being provided is the general thing?

Robert Charlton

3:23 am on Jan 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Do you have failover mail servers?

I'm not a server person, but I've looked into setting up failover email enough to know that failover mail servers are extremely difficult to set up if you want to provide continuous email service.

It's much easier to use a company like DNS Made Easy to provide a shared failover mail caching server, which caches email while the main mail server is down and then sends the cached messages when the server is up and running again. The service is fairly cheap, but you'd have to do this for each of your clients individually.

DNSME also provides failover DNS services for web hosting... but you have to know how to set up backup web hosting to make use of that.

Failover email is way beyond what most web hosting companies provide, btw, and I've never heard of a design company getting into this as a service for its clients. You might as well offer to do their taxes for them too. ;)

On the other hand, if you are responsible for the emails for many companies, you're at least going to need to back things up.

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