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I've happily been running a mail server on my home network to handle my personal domain email for the last 6 years. The old PIII server that is my mail server is now on it's last legs and I'm contemplating my options.

While I've quite enjoyed the learning experience of getting sendmail and spamassassin running, I'm currently tempted by the 'turkish delight' offerings of google apps.

Before getting completely suckered into the flashing lights of google apps with all their fancy imap, and webmail access, and their superduper spam filter, I thought I'd check with the smart folks here at super user if there still any benefits to running a mail server at home?

Additional info: * Lets ignore the Privacy concerns related with having google host the email. There are plenty of other threads covering this and I'll consider that in due course (if it turns out that from a technical perspective google apps is worth considering). * If I were to setup a new mail server, I'd probably go with Ubuntu, Dovecot and postfix running on some relatively old (but not ancient) hardware.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Journeyman Geek May 15 at 10:46

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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+1 for explicitly not discussing privacy in this question. Focus on one thing per question = much better answers. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 5 '10 at 13:58
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I think just for the "services" google will provide: Bandwidth, redundancy, energy to power the darn things.... it is a no-brainer to use Google Apps (or some other hosted email quite frankly).

My opinion: Unless you have some strong need to keep your email locally managed (say HIPAA regulations or something similar) - you are better off having it taken care of elsewhere.

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Thanks Goyuix - totally agree with your list of services. I thought perhaps there might be some downsides to google apps from a technical perspective, but from the research I've done the 'free' offering is incredibly generous in terms of number of users and stoarge space provided, and the configuration options (nicknames, groups, forwarding, etc) makes me think I'm not going to be left wanting for much. –  user9632 Dec 2 '09 at 23:23
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Google apps is probably one of the nicest e-mail related services available anywhere, although it certainly lacks features needed by Exchange or Notes people.

The benefits of your own server obviously relate to you having complete control over everything.

A server on a home network is no place to keep important stuff running unless you're really good with backups and never leave the house. If you have any important uses for the e-mail addresses on that domain, switch to any hosted service. I certainly have data useful in many away from home situations on my e-mail account. Although my main e-mail is gmail, I run some small special purpose imap boxes on my Dreamhost.com web hosting account. Some would say they're not a provider suitable for business critical stuff, but I sleep better keeping my data there than at home...

I'd say, having observed the mess people make for themselves running business e-mail and web sites on consumer grade networks (power outages, dsl outages, hardware failures when away from home), that you don't want to run a home server for anything except controlling warez/bittorrent remotely with a Unix shell over ssh. I love my own home server for exactly that purpose...:).

If you enjoy control, get a bare bones, un-managed virtual machine from someone like Linode.com (20 USD/month). That would allow you to configure your e-mail server to run in a proper data center with support personnel and backup power...

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Thanks nybergh, I don't have the need for exchange/notes features, and I agree the drama's of running a server at home (although with a mail server for the most part it's not too bad, as most mailservers make multiple attempts to send mail if the first attempt fails). So google apps is looking the goods :) –  user9632 Dec 2 '09 at 23:19
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Everything is wonderful about Google until something is not. If you aren't paying them, 'support' consists of forums where actual Google personnel are rare beasties. Now, you may well go years without running into some snag where you want support. Your chances of having some horrible mishap with self-hosted mail are probably much higher. There is, on the other hand, a thread on slashdot about strange Google policies on sharing documents that are applied to free users, and frustrated people unable to figure out what's happening or get relief. I've never had anything like that happen to me with email.

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