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Multi-user email accounts on a LAN using MailCOPA, Exchange or other...

Posted on 2009-04-17
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Dear Experts,

I am providing tech support for a small holiday rental business. I'm a web designer and have quite good technical knowledge, but I'm not an expert on networking.

They currently receive company enquiries from their website to a single email account e.g. info@company.com on their Windows Vista computer.

They want a solution where they have 3 computer "terminals", each able to access the account info@company.com and reply to / delete / file emails from this account. The setup needs to allow "locking" of messages, so while one of the employees is answering an email, another cannot also answer it on another terminal. The "terminals" may be in separate rooms. IMAP is not really an option for various reasons.

I am assuming the best way to do this is to simply purchase 2 additional Vista PCs and create a LAN out of the 3 PCs?

I have found 2 potential solutions on top of that:

A) MailCOPA - an email client which allows multi-user usage over a LAN. However, I have seen another question on EE suggesting MailCOPA is "slow and clunky".

B) Microsoft Exchange - but I know nothing about this.

Questions I would like to ask:

1) Does anyone have experience of MailCOPA? Is it viable in multi-user mode? My client will be put off by slow and clunky.

2) Does Exchange allow multi-user email access over a LAN to one or more communal email accounts, with features such as "message locking" so only one person can reply to a given email at a time, etc.?

3) Would Exchange be complex and arduous to install on a network of 3 Vista machines? I can figure most things out given the time, but if it's a true networking nightmare I'd rather not!

4) Is it possible to have the Exchange "server" running on one of the 3 client machines (along with one of the 3 email clients of course) or would it require a dedicated PC of its own?

5) Could you provide a ballpark cost for the required version or components of Exchange in this setup?

6) Are there any other solutions to this? Other multi-user LAN-capable email clients? Other email servers such as Lotus?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Question by:EdinWeb
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Mestha earned 1000 total points
ID: 24169436
I can't answer the questions on costs (being in the UK).

However I can tell you that Exchange does not have any kind of locking facility on messages. You can have multiple users accessing a mailbox at any time, but if three people have access to a mailbox then all three could reply.

Exchange will require a server, and an Active Directory domain. For the small number of users an SBS Server would be ideal. Dedicated machine. Take a look on Dell's web site as an easy point of reference for their systems that have SBS 2008 included.

Simon.
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Expert Comment

by:WebFuse
ID: 24185492
Mestha,

Thanks for the information. It sounds from what you say that Exchange would not be an appropriate solution, given the lack of "message locking".

Do you have any experience with the multi-user mail client MailCOPA? I think I will need to ask a separate question on this.

Sorry, but after I initially asked this question, I upgraded my EE account to the premium one and now it wont let me rate your answer!

Best regards,

Mike
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LVL 65

Expert Comment

by:Mestha
ID: 24186504
I am an Exchange specialist, Exchange MVP and hold the exams in the Microsoft Exchange product. I have never even heard of MailCOPA, let alone anything else about it. All I can tell you is Exchange cannot do it.

Simon.
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