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Direct Email Delivery via SMTP

versus

A Catch-all POP3 Mailbox


These are 2 widely used methods by which a mail-server receives incoming external email.
Each one has its advantages and disadvantages so here's a summary to help you choose which one's best for you:-



Advantages of a POP3 Mailbox

1 -

Someone else (your ISP) is receiving your email via SMTP
SMTP servers on the Internet attract all the lowlife, trying to send their spam and
virus-laden emails to your users, or trying and use your server to forward them onto other users.
This means the SMTP server has to have bullet-proof security plus, repelling all those nuisances, inevitably uses up Internet bandwidth and server resources.
It's better if this is someone else's problem and, by using a Catch-all Mailbox, your server can stay safely hidden behind your firewall with the result that your company network has less risk of being hacked and Internet access is faster for users in your office.

2 -

If your in-house mail-server or Internet connection fails, and you don't have a backup system, then incoming emails have nowhere to go
After a few hours of your system being off-line, senders will start to receive "Message Undeliverable" warnings and after 12 hours, messages may be lost completely which will not be good for business.
The ISP hosting your Catch-all Mailbox may also suffer a failure of their primary
mail-server but you expect them to have more robust system than you have, including backup mail-servers and multiple routes to the Internet.
If any failure occurs with your network you can take comfort that your emails are still being accepted and stored for you in your Catch-all Mailbox ready for when you're back online.

3 -

SMTP is a bit more tricky as it involves configuring incoming firewall rules and setting up DNS MX records

Direct SMTP delivery means you have to allow any computer on the Internet to make a connection over TCP Port 25 to your server and so your Firewall needs to know to direct all such connection attempts to your mail-server's IP address.
On a firewall configuration screen it's often referred to as Port Forwarding.
See this page, elsewhere on this website, for an explanation of MX records.



Advantages of SMTP Direct Delivery

1 -

You are in control of the whole email process
If you need to make a change you can do it yourself, immediately - no delays contacting your ISP and no explaining or arguing to do.

2 -

Sometimes the best way to repel viruses and spam is to deal directly, and be tough, with the sending mail-server
A Catch-All Mailbox at an ISP will typically accept all emails sent to it, although some will filter out viruses.

3 -

You don't have to pay someone to host the Catch-All Mailbox for you and you don't have the problem of exceeding your mailbox's allotted storage capacity
There's no charge for sending and receiving emails on the Internet - that's why we have the problem of Spam!
A Catch-All mailbox will have a storage limit set by your ISP which is usually around 100mb and, if your in-house server is off-line for more than a few hours this can easily reach it's limit, after which incoming emails will be bounced back to the sender with a "Message Undeliverable" warning.

4 -

You receive email quicker with SMTP Direct Delivery
With direct SMTP delivery, emails can arrive in your Inbox within seconds of the sender clicking Send, while a Catch-All Mailbox typically introduces a delay of 15 minutes.
You can't rely on SMTP delivery being so quick as some systems deliberately insert a delay of up to an hour to reduce spam, and busy email systems can take up to a day to deliver an email.
On average you should allow a couple of hours for an email to arrive which, of course, doesn't mean the recipient will have read it in that time.



Our Recommendations

A Catch-All Mailbox is more suitable for "beginners" as it's easier to setup, safer and more forgiving of mail-server and Internet connection outages.
SMTP Direct Delivery is something you should graduate to once you feel confident with the issues involved and your equipment and Internet connection are sufficiently robust, or you've organised a backup system.

If your company's email is run on a single server at the end of a Broadband connection then Arrowmail can offer a Simple Backup System to make it more robust.

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