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Ipswitch IMail Server Premium 10.02

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent


  • Excellent value
  • Easy to manage
  • Includes secure IM and anti-spam filtering


  • Not as feature-rich or widely used as Microsoft Exchange
  • Anti-virus filtering and email archiving cost extra

IMail Server from Ipswitch is an excellent email server for small and medium-sized businesses. This lightweight (in terms of complexity, not features) alternative to Microsoft Exchange functions as a POP3 server or IMAP server and runs on 32-bit or 64-bit Windows only. However, it's compatible with a wide range of standards-based mail clients running on multiple platforms, while the Web Messaging and web-based administration clients run on Internet Explorer and Firefox under various operating systems. IMail's web components also now work on the Mac's Safari browser. Disappointingly, the Premium version's shared calendar and contacts only work with Outlook 2000 or later, and not with Outlook Express or Outlook for Mac.

IMail Server: Web Messaging client.

As well as email, IMail Server Premium offers a range of collaboration features including calendaring, contact and task management, plus mobile synchronisation, web-based access and data storage. Optional add-ons include archiving and integrated antivirus functionality. The software comes with basic anti-spam filtering, while secure instant messaging is included with the Premium version but is otherwise an optional extra starting at €410.85 (£377) for 25 users — full pricing details are on Ipswitch's web site.

IMail Server: Web Calendar.

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IMail Server 10.02 is the first major update for IMail since 2006. Most of the problems and bugs associated with previous versions have been fixed, and many new features have been added. Ipswitch has even developed its own Digital Rights Management (DRM) tool to protect licensing and to secure the delivery of messaging software. Adjustable password complexity and account suspension following a configurable number of failed logins also improve security, while Web Messaging Lite — the new low-bandwidth web client — allows users with dial-up or other sluggish connections to access their mailboxes quicker. A new feature that's available only in Web Messaging Lite is the 'check all' preference, which allows users to mark all messages on a current page or in an entire folder.

IMail Server is available with 25, 100, 250, 1000 or unlimited mailboxes, with prices starting at €991.85 euros (£909) for 25 mailboxes, rising to €5,805.85 (£5,321) for unlimited mailboxes. A user or mailbox is an account within IMail, and adding either is easier than using Active Directory with Exchange. All administration and maintenance can be carried out from any web browser using the consolidated administrator utility.

IMail Server: Web Administration.

Ipswitch Instant Messaging does not interface with public IM systems such as Yahoo and AOL. Instead, it transmits IM securely and logs all activity, while the Premium version can be set to keep copies of all IM conversations for as long as required.

One of IMail Server's key selling points is its extensive set of security enhancements. The software includes SSL/TLS support for SMTP, POP3 and IMAP4, several SMTP relay lockdown options, dictionary attack prevention, DOS attack prevention, auto-deny hack attempts and attachment blocking. IMail Server's spam protection features are also impressive and include a statistical filter, phrase filter, HTML features filter, URL domain black lists, broken MIME headers, SPF and connection checks.

As far as reporting goes, IMail's Log Analyser provides a view of server activity, allowing managers to get critical information on usage trends and determine which domains are generating the most network traffic.

IMail Server has a solid feature set, and is both powerful and secure. For small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, it provides a cost-effective web-based email and collaboration solution. It combines standards-based messaging protocols with automatically updated anti-spam technology and offers optional anti-virus protection, making it a good choice for mission-critical messaging systems.

If your company wants to run its email in-house and finds Microsoft's Exchange too unwieldy and much too expensive, Ipswitch's IMail Server Premium is a bargain, topping out at €5,805.85 (£5,321) for unlimited seats — and that includes a Service Level Agreement.