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Old 4 Apr 2024, 03:31 PM   #1
nosim
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How difficult to run a barebones POP3 email service?

How difficult is it to run a very basic barebones POP3/SMTP only email service, with regards to security (hackers) and reliability (not getting listed in anti-spam, and SPF - DMARK - bells and whistles errors)?

I'm thinking limits on free accounts.
- 1 email address per account
- 40 mb disk space, 5 mb per email
- no backup, no support, no webmail, no IMAP, no 2FA, no verifications, …

And for the first 3 months:
- 1 email sent per hour to max 4 to, cc, bcc
- 5 emails sent per 24hrs
- 20 emails sent per 7 days to max 50 to, cc, bcc

Thereafter per 7 days max 50 sent to, cc, bcc.

I'm thinking to add 5 aliases on various cheap domains (domains which are valid for maximum 1 year) on which there is only receiving, no sending.

I'm thinking to add paid accounts, but always POP3/SMTP only.

Suggestions and comments welcome!
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Old 4 Apr 2024, 07:55 PM   #2
TenFour
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I think it is harder than you think to provide adequate security and functionality. But, I also think that POP is not very popular, except for Gmail that forces POP3 on people. For my own part I haven't used POP, except for when Gmail forced it, in probably close to 20 years. I vastly prefer webmail and a matching app on my phone, with everything synced via IMAP. I spend months at a time away from home and having my email on the go is vastly important to me. By the way, Purelymail offers a lot more at only $10 per year.

Last edited by TenFour : 4 Apr 2024 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 5 Apr 2024, 12:38 AM   #3
janusz
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@nosim: your offer is very limited. Do you really think there will be any takers?
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Old 7 Apr 2024, 03:42 PM   #4
nosim
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If the service I look for is not available, then why not (try) do it myself?

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Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
I think it is harder than you think to provide adequate security and functionality.
That's what is holding me back. I've seen services pop up over the years, but they never say if they are IT buffs or like me just people filling a service they need and look for. The stories often say(id) so, but those are stories.

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Originally Posted by janusz View Post
@nosim: your offer is very limited. Do you really think there will be any takers?
That's what I wish to find out

I've been searching long and hard for a service allowing me to do simple, all email offline, POP3 only, reliably, for free, without the need to have another email or phone verification, not being big tech or in Europe. There are a few ideologically inspired (no pun here) services providing this, but who may ban you or close your access overnight. By limiting the service I would hope spammers and scammers and abusers would not be interested.

In setting those limits I wondered how may private (not business) emails do people really send per day? And if exceptionally the limit would be reached, is it bad for the email to remain queued until the next day?

Everyone's use case is different. As a frequent traveler connecting to so many less than secure networks and environments I made the choice to keep as little as possible online or on phone. You could argue IMAP can download and delete on download too, but what's the point in IMAP if it is to not keep it all online? Thunderbird for one is set up like that, you need to move the messages out of the inbox in an offline folder for them to get removed online.

So it is really about setting up a service I would use, and open it up to others. But what skill set do you need to do that properly?
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Old 7 Apr 2024, 07:55 PM   #5
Avion
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janusz View Post
@nosim: your offer is very limited. Do you really think there will be any takers?
Quote:
Originally Posted by nosim View Post
That's what I wish to find out
You could post a poll here on the forum, but that would rely on forum members being sufficiently interested enough to participate.
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Old 7 Apr 2024, 08:47 PM   #6
TenFour
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Quote:
As a frequent traveler connecting to so many less than secure networks and environments I made the choice to keep as little as possible online or on phone.
Personally, having done a lot of traveling off the beaten path myself, I feel the biggest danger is your laptop breaking or being stolen. This is why I vastly prefer having everything in the cloud where the data is stored safely even if my phone or laptop goes missing or breaks. When something happens to your device you can just move on to another device and still keep going. Plus, the reliability and security on a major cloud or IMAP provider are infinitely greater than anything I can do personally. With POP very mundane and routine disasters can spell the end of all your data: fire, flood, theft, or just dropping the PC or backup drive.
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Old 8 Apr 2024, 01:01 AM   #7
nosim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avion View Post
You could post a poll here on the forum, but that would rely on forum members being sufficiently interested enough to participate.
Trying to get my head around which poll questions could help find out which skills are required and how difficult it is to run a mailserver/service?
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Old 8 Apr 2024, 03:35 AM   #8
TenFour
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Maybe the better approach would be to set up the email service you want first, and see how difficult and rewarding it is. My understanding is you can do this nearly for free. That would give you a much better idea of what is involved in expanding to an offering to the public.
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Old 9 Apr 2024, 04:41 PM   #9
xylon
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Ready to set up a new email service?
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Old 10 Apr 2024, 04:27 AM   #10
nosim
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Quote:
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Ready to set up a new email service?
I'd love to be

Before throwing myself in the deep end, I need to understand more as to what's involved behind the scenes. As TenFour said rightly …

Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
I think it is harder than you think to provide adequate security and functionality.
And there is not like a "starting an email service for dummies" book out there

Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
Maybe the better approach would be to set up the email service you want first, and see how difficult and rewarding it is.
Thanks for the sensible and gentle nudge to jump in

I think I would want a security hardened and stripped down BSD flavoured OS. Which means I would need as a first step to learn about BSD, security hardening, and stripping down an OS to the bare minimum needed for the limited POP3 service, right?
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Old 10 Apr 2024, 05:05 AM   #11
TenFour
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ForwardEmail lists some options for email servers using BSD: https://forwardemail.net/en/blog/ope...d-email-server
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Old 10 Apr 2024, 05:18 AM   #12
Folio
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I think TenFour’s suggestion about initially running a mail server just for yourself was excellent advice. I keep an email server running for testing purposes and as a backup.

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Originally Posted by nosim View Post
I think I would want a security hardened and stripped down BSD flavoured OS.
My preferred email server setup is OpenSMTPD-Dovecot-Rspamd running on an OpenBSD server. You will, however, find far more tutorials and online trouble-shooting discussions for Postfix-Dovecot-Spamassassin running on Debian-based servers. I, personally, don’t think I would ever offer email services to others, but best wishes if you decide to take that plunge.
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Old 12 Apr 2024, 04:40 PM   #13
nosim
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Seriously looking at learning openbsd …

On another note, does anyone know how to get in touch with John Capo from Tuffmail? I'd love to pick his brain
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Old 17 May 2024, 06:21 AM   #14
SideshowBob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenFour View Post
But, I also think that POP is not very popular, except for Gmail that forces POP3 on people.
Since when? I used to access gmail using IMAP a few years ago. I used it with getmail because gmail's POP3 had a race that made it less reliable.
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Old 17 May 2024, 06:32 AM   #15
SideshowBob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosim View Post
How difficult is it to run a very basic barebones POP3/SMTP only email service
If you have to ask ...

IIWY I'd set it up for test purposes, without relying on it for anything important. Maybe just use it for mailing lists at first.

I'd suggest using Postfix. I've never used it myself, but it's recommended by everyone who's opinion I respect.
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