MailGate

  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • Reasonable pricing
  • available as extended 'corporate' version
  • excellent service and support.

Cons

  • Interface could be clearer
  • Web-based access for users and administrators not yet supported
  • only runs under Windows.

Like VPOP3, MailGate is a British product. Reasonably priced, lean and very stable, MailGate lets you collect email from multiple external accounts and distribute it appropriately according to whatever schedule you care to set.

MailGate is administered using a Windows Explorer-style interface. Once you're used to it, it's straightforward enough – you can click pretty much anywhere and choose Setup to change settings. But if your sense of logic leads you to expect that, for example, right-clicking on a particular mailbox will bring up settings for that mailbox, it doesn't. It just brings up a standard menu that includes the usual set of MailGate settings. To configure the mailbox itself, you double-click on it. The same holds true for all the other item-specific settings -- extensions, details of connections, filters and so on. It's consistent, and most users have no trouble with it. The online help is adequate but not wonderful: if you are inexperienced with running this kind of software, the help will explain how each feature works but doesn't explain why you might want to use it.

One reason the interface can seem a little obscure to some users is that so many settings are packed into a couple of relatively small tabbed windows. Expect to spend some time working out what all the options are, as the software is more powerful than it seems at first glance. You can, for example, view individual messages queued for pickup by user accounts, but how to do so is not immediately obvious -- in fact, the message viewer is an external module that you run separately.

MailGate supports a number of extensions to the base product, all of which are included in the corporate version. These perform specific tasks like spam filtering, scanning for viruses and managing mailing lists. In addition, a fax gateway is available. MailGate also includes gateways for telnet, FTP, streaming RealAudio, and Liquid Audio, and proxies for Web and NNTP (Usenet). All of these are intended to help you get the best out of your Internet connection by caching frequently accessed material so that it can be distributed faster around your local network than it would be if everyone downloaded it separately over the external link. You can even create URL filters to control access to specific Web sites.

Existing MailGate users report that the service and support is excellent. A built-in support tool will email the configuration and logs to the support team if necessary. Small businesses will appreciate the reasonable pricing.

The one really desirable feature missing from MailGate, however (especially if you need to support mobile staff), is access via a Web interface. Both this feature and a Web-based interface for administration are in development. Remote staff can use their standard email clients and access MailGate as a POP3 server, but if you want them to be able to check their email from any Internet café using an ordinary Web browser, consider VPOP3 or CommuniGate instead.

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