Affordable, capable e-mail
MDaemon Pro 5.0.4 adds LDAP to its rich roster of capabilities
MANY E-MAIL SERVERS have ballooned into expensive, high-maintenance, resource-hungry collaboration platforms. Although there is definitely a need for such do-it-all solutions, sometimes all a company requires is a lightweight, highly configurable server that handles only e-mail but does it exceedingly well. MDaemon Pro 5.0.4, the latest release of Alt-N Technologies' Windows mail server, is aggressively priced for the small-to-midsize business market. Yet enterprise customers will appreciate MDaemon Pro's high-end features, including multiple domains, customizable Web interfaces for user email access and administration, powerful protection against spam and undesirable content, and full support for LDAP user directories.
After our testing, we judged MDaemon Pro to be almost perfect, subtracting a scant amount of points for minor documentation deficiencies and a few overcrowded configuration dialog boxes.
We tested MDaemon Pro 5.0.4 on a Windows 2000 server with dual AMD Athlon MP 1800+ CPUs and 1GB of RAM. Downloading the tiny self-extracting installation file, which is only 9MB in size, provides the first clue to how tight this server really is. The software requirements call for just 8MB of RAM and 30MB of disk space. The software will run on any 32-bit version of Windows, including desktop editions such as Windows 95/98, Windows Me, and Windows XP.
This allows cash-strapped organizations to set up world-class mail services on inexpensive hardware -- Linux-style -- or to use MDaemon Pro as an affordable back up to a larger corporate mail server.
But don't infer that MDaemon Pro won't scale.
We put MDaemon on a beefy Athlon server with a fast Internet connection and banged on it mercilessly using a mail-client simulator. In addition to ordinary messages of various sizes, we sent MDaemon Pro a barrage of poorly formed messages, forgeries, and huge binary attachments (some with viruses) and even left some SMTP connections hanging open. MDaemon Pro's efficient multithreading ensures a rapid response to connection requests, even when the server is heavily loaded.
MDaemon Pro's wealth of configuration options evidence Alt-N's intimate understanding of Internet standards and protocols. E-mail wonks, particularly those migrating from ultraconfigurable Linux or Unix mail servers, will be delighted by the minute control afforded them by MDaemon Pro's administrative interfaces. More humble administrators will find MDaemon Pro's setup wizard and standards-friendly defaults a good fit, but they may feel dazed as they explore some of the server's more complicated configuration screens.
Fortunately, MDaemon Pro stores all of its configuration data in text files. You can back up, restore, and transfer settings simply by copying files from one folder to another.
The configuration file formats are documented, so it's possible to manipulate such things as user accounts and mailing lists from a script (Perl or JScript, for example) or a text editor.
Alt-N also enhanced its API in Version 5, adding COM (Component Object Model) support for interfacing MDaemon Pro with Visual Basic, Windows Scripting Host, and Active Server Pages.