• Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent


  • Easy to set up and administer
  • attractively priced
  • available in Home, standard and Enterprise versions.


  • Only runs under Windows.

VPOP3, a UK product from Paul Smith Computer Services, comes in two main versions: standard and Enterprise. The main difference between the two is that the Enterprise version accepts plug-ins that enable virus-scanning, content filtering and SMS messaging. In addition, the Enterprise version supports real-time blacklist checking to minimise spam, as well as IMAP4 and ODBC. Both are downloadable in 30-day trial versions. There’s also a simplified Home version with reduced business functionality (no listserver, external auto-responders, LAN forwarding and so on).

Besides the online help, the site offers an introductory guide for novices. This is extremely useful if you haven't set up a server before, but even without it VPOP3 is designed to be no more difficult to set up than the average email client. It comes, for example, with a built-in selection of ISPs so that new users don't have to look up too many settings. One nice function for those with many different POP3 connections to manage is that VPOP3 can be set to use a different SMTP server for outbound mail for each. The number of mailboxes in the software licence refers only to the number of local mailboxes, not the number of remote ones from which mail is collected.

VPOP3 collects all its settings into a single window with many tabs; context-sensitive help is available from each screen. The software supports remote access via a Web browser, Finger, remote Web-based administration and IMAP4 -- all of which can be separately enabled or disabled. For those connections, you can set up as simple or complex a schedule as you like, up to setting different frequencies and times for each. You can set a maximum size above which mail is not downloaded, set up an autoresponder (as might be needed when someone is out of the office) and create download rules to block spam.

VPOP3 also supports external routers -- helper programs such as fuller-featured spam blockers or autoresponders that can batch-process incoming email. It also lets you set up and manage mailing lists, either distribution-only or two-way (including mail from other Internet users). A message browser is built in, allowing the administrator to go to any account and view the queued messages and their contents.

Like the other products reviewed here, VPOP3 supports both permanent and dial-up connections, and can fetch email from a variety of accounts and distribute it appropriately. You control when and how often VPOP3 checks for mail, and can set limits on the size of messages retrieved. Messages over the limit are retained for a number of days you specify, with a notification sent to the recipient, who can choose to download or leave the message.

VPOP3's popularity rests on its ease of setup and administration, compactness and low price, as well as its relative maturity (which means it has few bugs). It's the cheapest of the three products reviewed here, even though its feature set is comparable. In fact, one of its features -- the Web interface -- is not available in MailGate, its nearest competitor, although that company is working on it.

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