Here’s my email server recipe

After my earlier article, the overall consensus of those that commented on it was that operating an email server could be too onerous on a Startup. Now, I are likely to disagree. While operating an email server will not be as simple as, say, caring for your laptop computer and maintaining it updated, it’s nowhere as troublesome as some individuals are making it out to be.

I would be the first to say I’m no knowledgeable. I nonetheless, have run and maintained a number of email servers ever since I arrange a Postfix, Dovecot and fetchmail setup configuration again in Intrepid Ibex and that ought to depend for one thing.

I’ve thus determined to supply my personal email server recipe in a “I present you mine and also you present me yours” gesture with the hope that it’ll assist others on the market together with myself.

No one has managed to interrupt into any of my email servers, of all these just one was blacklisted in CBL and even then it wasn’t actually my fault. My email servers ship a few thousand emails a day principally newsletters ship by way of MailPoet and a few private emails.

I solely examine into my server as soon as per week, until there’s some kind of downside which there’s virtually by no means is. During my examine ups I have a look at the mail.log and the mail.err log information and the auth.log information.

I additionally carry out updates and do a spam take a look at on considered one of my newsletters utilizing (I’ve been getting 10/10 for the previous couple of months by the best way). On common I spent about half-hour as soon as per week on the email server and contemplating I must spent about $50/ month for the private email accounts and $20 on an SMTP service like MailChimp or Amazon SES I think about it completely value of my time.

A few issues have been outlined in these feedback to help the case that operating your personal email server is troublesome together with: downtime, spammers breaking into your server or utilizing your area title and your email being marked as Spam. I imagine at the moment’s article, as proven beneath, and those that can come within the sequence will clear up all these issues.

My email server recipe

  • The very first thing that you must do is to discover a dependable server supplier. Given issues like ZESA points and value I are likely to favour international information facilities as they’re cheaper and have good uptime. I normally use: Amazon AWS, Dreamhost, SDAPP, Digitalocean and Oneprovider. These suppliers additionally present DDOS safety (normally free of charge) which could turn out to be useful now and again when your server comes below a DDOS assault.
  • Choose a distro you’re most aware of. I’ve at all times used Ubuntu and if that is your first time or if you’re not sure it is best to too. To be truthful configuring an Ubuntu server isn’t any simpler than configuring say a Debian, Redhat, Centos or Fedora server however Ubuntu may be very widespread and likelihood is no matter downside you could have somebody on the market has already encountered and solved it. You ought to at all times select the newest LTS model of Ubuntu which is presently 14.04.2. In all of the steps beneath we’ll assume you could have chosen Ubuntu.
  • Once you could have efficiently put in your VPS, disable distant create a consumer with sudo privileges and disable distant root login. Follow the information here.
  • Switch from password login to certificates login utilizing this guide.
  • For a very long time my auth.log log file was full of ssh bots attempting to interrupt in. Changing your default sshd port as proven on this guide would possibly assist however the relentless crackers on the market would possibly do a port scan till they discover the port and proceed with their siege. I’ve provide you with a customized resolution of my personal.
  • My primary email server is hosted by Dreamhost and like lots different cloud suppliers they supply a panel the place you may prohibit the IP deal with or vary that may entry a sure port below safety insurance policies. Like most individuals I should not have a hard and fast IP deal with that I take advantage of to connect with the web. My service supplier has a NAT setup which suggests my IP addresses is consistently altering even when I maintain my tools on on a regular basis. To get round this downside I went to and found my IP deal with which is was described as “ZOL 16E CUSTOMERS ON ALVARION PLATFORM”.
  • I then did a search utilizing the web site to find your entire CIDR block. Which I found is I then restricted ssh entry to this block. I’ve additionally prohibit entry to the IMAP port to this block since I solely ever entry my email utilizing this similar IP block. This worn out all of the makes an attempt to the ssh port and lowered them to zero. If you aren’t certain you may simply add all of the Zimbabwean IP blocks. It is extremely unlikely that there are some Zimbos on the market trying to break into your email server.
  • To additional reinforce and guard in opposition to brute drive assaults I put in fail2ban and configured it to ban repeat offenders for a yr. So any makes an attempt to interrupt in by way of ssh or Postfix might be mechanically thwarted. Remember so as to add you primary IP block to the exception checklist.
  • Before I cooked up the above options, I merely uninstalled sshd from my server! I as a substitute used the supplied  browser based mostly Qemu set up that my server supplier offers.
  • Once I’ve secured my server I set up and configure Postfix. In my opinion, it’s the best MTA server on the market and the default set up would work for many. I normally use this guide. I desire it to the default one here as a result of it doesn’t use “PAM” authentication thus precluding the necessity to create precise bodily accounts on the machine and danger a break in, within the occasion that some consumer has a weak password.
  • Setup Postfix to reject mail from invalid domains and domains that fail reverse lookups. Using the directive:
    smtpd_helo_required = sure
    smtpd_helo_restrictions = reject_invalid_hostname, reject_unknown_hostname
  • Reject mail from recognized spammers:
    smtpd_recipient_restrictions =
    reject_rbl_client dul.dnsbl.sorbs.internet,
    reject_rbl_client bl.spamcop.internet,
    reject_rbl_client dnsbl.sorbs.internet,
    reject_rbl_client ix.dnsbl.manitu.internet,
    reject_rbl_client mixed.rbl.msrbl.internet,
  • Configure TLS utilizing the information I supplied here.
  • Have my service supplier arrange a reverse pointer file that matches my area e.g.
  • Setup a SPF file. We will have a look at how you are able to do this in a while within the sequence.
  • Setup DKIM signing and a DKIM file. We will even have a look at how you are able to do this in a while within the sequence.
  • Setup a DMARC file that expressly tells different smtp servers on the market to reject all unsigned mail and all mail that doesn’t come out of your authorised mail server.
  • Set up an alert at to your area to watch doable blacklists in your IP and cope with them as quickly as they happen.
  • Have your customers use a service like’s vault to generate and keep robust passwords and alter them commonly.
  • Apply to the and inform them that you’ve got accomplished all of the above and get on their whitelist.
  • Set up an account at to watch your server in and arrange email alerts to your email account. Obviously this email can’t be on utilizing the identical area title because the server so you need to use your good quaint Gmail/Yahoo account.
  • Check the Ubuntu CVE web site here. Be certain to pick the right model of your Operating system. If there’s nothing new it means there aren’t any pressing updates in your server so you may replace in accordance with your most popular schedule.
  • Check in at the least as soon as per week, learn the server’s log information. I like to recommend utilizing Atom.

NB One of the customers made a comment about how Hotmail stored rejecting their email. This might be as a result of they haven’t arrange the SPF,DKIM and DMARC data but.

If you could have and your email retains getting rejected while you ship it from Zimbabwe it’s in all probability as a result of you haven’t correctly configured your email shopper. Usually this implies your email shopper is sending mail straight and never by way of the MTA you could have arrange.

In truth if in case you have arrange the three data above correctly trying to straight ship email by way of your shopper ought to see it rejected by Gmail, Hotmail and most respected servers as a result of they might be following your directives to not settle for such emails!

Another consumer cites doable misconfigurations and downtime as a motive for startups to keep away from organising their very own email server. Well, in the event you select dependable Data Centers corresponding to those I’ve named above, downtime is one thing that can hardly ever occur if in any respect.

In any case most respected MTA’s corresponding to Postfix will defer sending email and try once more thus largely negating any results ensuing from outages. As for misconfiguration inflicting issues, there aren’t any actually good explanation why one ought to mess with the above configuration as soon as it’s arrange.

If there’s a motive for such modifications they need to be examined on one other machine earlier than being deployed right into a productive setting and that’s commonplace observe actually.

I hope folks discover this convenient and as at all times please be happy to remark and add to the article within the remark part.

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