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backup email

SW111
SW111 asked
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Last Modified: 2013-11-30
I need help figuring out a way to backup all emails from our company. This includes a backup from all email accounts and the backup must include not just received emails but ALSO sent emails.

So far, we can backup all received emails simply by forwarding it to another mail account: backup@domain.com
But we've never managed to backup sent emails.

We're using our domain hosting's email service, which is not so great. So I'm open to any suggestion, including (but preferably not) building our own mail server. We're a small organization with zero IT expertise. Can you please direct me to a solution or to a service that might offer a solution?

In my mind, the solution should be to simply assign a bcc to all email accounts on the server part (cant rely on users to do this). But my email hosting provider will not add a bcc on the server side, even using vps, etc.

Thank You

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Commented:
Thanks for your reply jar3817

I actually dont know what the smtp server my host is using. I'm pretty sure its not microsoft's exchange server. And I've asked them also about this: they cant setup a bcc on the server side.

Which brings me to my posting here: I've asked around on a couple of hosting companies, and none of them are offering or willing to add this bcc thing on the server side. (In fact, some seems puzzled over why I dont simply use outlook, thunderbird, etc)

I suspected that one of the answer is to have our own server. But I'm hoping someone can point me to an alternative solution. I seems too simple of a problem to have such complicated solution....

One of the concern I have of hiring a full-time IT staff over outsourced expertise is that I have to assign administrator access to the IT person. I honestly am having difficulty with that because it seems to be too risky. I've never understood how larger organizations can work around this. (A discontent administrator can pretty much wipe out all data and infrastructure of a company and reduce us to using papers and chart books, no?)

Dave HoweSoftware and Hardware Engineer
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What do you want to do with the backed-up mail?
Do you just want it all to be saved on a server forever, accessible as if it were a mailbox?
Do you want to build a long term archive of it (say on DVD or something)?

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Commented:
DaveHowe, Thanks for the reply. I will look into tagadab.com.

Stefanx, Yes, accessible as if it were a mailbox AND I will also setup IMAP from thunderbird so we have an online copy. (evidently, POP also doesnt retrieve the sent folder content). Additional benefit is that users can access webmail when they're away and still have the sent emails backed up to a central location
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Ok. I suppose, since almost everyone is leaning towards having a mailserver of my own, then that is the best solution?

I was hoping to find a host out there that will provide this feature. A backup of all emails seems to be so basic that I'm having difficulty comprehending how no one is offering such solution.

I am somewhat petrified of the prospect of having to maintain my own mail server, let alone upgrading it every 3 years. I will normally be more than happy to outsource this kind of jobs, only that I'm located in Indonesia and might be difficult to work with overseas based vendors. This is why I'm hoping to get a simple solution like a different hosting or perhaps using one of those appliance (which actually doesnt seem to add any benefit because I'll end up maintaining the appliance anyways)

Commented:
You may also want to look at http://www.mimecast.com/ although this is very much geared towards corporate users?
Dave HoweSoftware and Hardware Engineer

Commented:
yes, we are a mimecast customer. They don't provide hosting as such, although they *do* provide webmail, reliable (backed up) storage, admin access to all mailboxes and pop3 access.

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Commented:
Thanks for the referral. I've visited mimecast but havent pinpointed what exactly it is that they do. Plus they dont put up their pricing on the website, so I'm guessing, as you say, that they are geared towards corporate users and must be much too expensive for us.

I'm looking into zimbra open source edition which seems to be simpler than mail server such as postfix. I hope their hosting solution is not too expensive.
Dave HoweSoftware and Hardware Engineer

Commented:
Mimecast are a prefilter service. They perform some graylisting, limited spam filtering, and quite good antivirus, plus they allow you to access historic mail going back for a period defined by how much you are willing to pay for back history (we have three years at 150 users, and yes, its scarily expensive)

I used the "exim" open source email server, on ubuntu, on the host I pay for, and it took me about five minutes to set up, along with some dynamic redirection (user@domain -> user@otherdomain+user@localhost, plus a final "catchall" mailbox which mostly gets spam) - setting up spamassassin and graylisting took longer, but not by much :)

Author

Commented:
Thanks DaveHowe.
I think your Exim solution is what I should try, only on postfix. I've setup a hylafax mailserver with postfix on ubuntu using one of the idiots guide from the internet. So it should be less difficult for me.

Somehow I've been led to think along the line that I should host the mailserver myself. While I think a better solution is to keep my current hosting and try to get postfix to work together with them.

I've just learned of a software called getmail, which seems to be a utillity to extract everything from ISP mailserver to postfix (including sent folder). The only thing is that I need to get postfix to send email to ISP mailserver and let the ISP pass the message to the final destination. (I thought this would make it a gateway mailserver, but I've been told that its not that simple). That way, even if my own mailserver is down, I can always revert back to using outlook/webmail directly on ISP webmail. Now if only I can find an idiot's guide....
Dave HoweSoftware and Hardware Engineer

Commented:
how are you storing the mail on the hosted solution? if you have imap access, then a bit of scripting (vbs, python or perl are all viable options) could harvest the entire imap mailbox for each user, preserving folder structures, and back those up in a zipfile for later use (or just leave them on the hard drive as a set of .eml files)

you *would* need to know the imap password for each user for that though.

Author

Commented:
Well, currently I'm forced to use POP since if we didnt download the emails even for a couple of days, then it would get full and start rejecting incoming mails (cant upgrade the size anymore, this is the package with the highest offered size).

It seems that the ISP system is designed so that users download using POP and cannot keep emails undefinetely on the mailserver.

This "little" problem is actually one of the main cause we're still using a single, general company email instead of allowing individual emails for each users.

But am I on the right track with my last post? Use Postfix with getmail to "get" all emails on the ISP mailserver. Since to get to ISP mailserver, Sent emails will have to pass postfix, I expect archiving sent emails wouldnt be a problem anymore? Then I can have the users access the webmail on postfix instead on ISP mailserver? If this is so, than I probably should open another thread on how to go about developing this solution. Thanks DaveHowe.
Dave HoweSoftware and Hardware Engineer

Commented:
yea, you can use getmail or similar to "pull" the pop3 mail, then redeliver it locally. that just leaves the job of backing up the local database (you can also then offer imap and webmail for your users, so that they keep their mail in the local database instead of on their own machines)
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