Redundant email on SBS2008?

Posted on 2014-12-30
Last Modified: 2014-12-30
I have a client who runs SBS2008 on premise. The most used features of this installation are email and file share (i.e, sharepoint is unused, etc).

Every now and then the internet will drop (ISP's got wire issues in the area, plus power outages frequent during bad weather). When the server goes down email is lost/bounced, etc. The problem occurs because of clients' location - small town remote.

So, what's the best way to make their email redundant? I hate using the POP3 connector as a permanent solution... and took them off of that kind of setup. I don't think dropping exchange and going to hosted pop3 is gonna fly as EUs all use multiple devices. Might not be able to sell them on a migration to the cloud, due to unreliable internet. Kinda painted into a corner here.

I was thinking something along the lines of changing MX records at the host, adding a secondary server and using priorities on the MX records? In testing I never got it to work.

Please send your ideas/best practices.
Question by:Elixir2
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LVL 12

Assisted Solution

by:Chris Staunton
Chris Staunton earned 250 total points
ID: 40524121
I would suggest offsite MX hosting somewhere, there are affordable solutions out there for small businesses.  Take a look at Backup MX @ < $100 a year it might fit the budget.
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 40524162
I would suggest that you contract company that would host yor emails for you (bluehost, rackspace).  On the clients you can create local PST files where their email would be downloaded to but NOT deleted from the server.  This would allow your users to access it both locally and remotely.  IT also acts as somewhat of a backup to your emails.

Chris' suggestion is also a great one as well.

Author Comment

ID: 40524203
I've never used offsite MX, but that's a winning idea. Let me get this right, it is an automatic failover where users can go to read their missed email?

I personally use 1and1 for my email host, and I've noticed that they automatically SPOOL the emails that I miss when my server is offline for any reason. I almost never have a bounced email unless my server is offline for like 72 hours...

This client I am working for, obviously, does not have that SPOOLING function from their host. Is that what offsite MX is really doing, right?
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LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Chris Staunton
ID: 40524216
They will spool it offsite and send it to your mail server when it's back online.  Generally mail servers will try multiple times to deliver an e-mail depending on how the sending mail server is setup there should always be multiple delivery attempts.

Author Comment

ID: 40524314
The host is one of hundreds of online hosts that has no real reason for being. The domain MX record points directly to the on-premise SBS2008 Exchange. There is a lower priority MX record pointing to host themselves (like the default record), but it doesn't appear to do anything (i.e. missed mail when server down does NOT show up in the hosts' pop3 email boxes for the same user account). I'm assuming this is because of the MX priority? Host is not "smart" enough to determine when the on-premise Exchange is down?

Author Comment

ID: 40524319
While the cost for offsite MX is not prohibitive, I want to make sure this is not something I already have and is just not set up right...
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 40524328
I think a good solution would be to move your client's mail to a cloud solution (Office 365) Their mail will be highly available and also is a good DR solution as your don't need to worry about backups etc. The costing is competitive for as little as 3.10 per user per month. Please refer to the link below.

Another option would be to get a secondary internet connection, wireless if that's possible? Configure WAN failover if your router/firewall supports this. You can buy router/firewalls at competitive prices that support these features such as Zyxel USG 100.


LVL 95

Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40524391
Cloud might work.  If they don't send large files, especially between office users... if they do, the cloud sucks bandwidth as files are unnecessarily mailed to and from.  It's also usually more costly in my opinion.  Hosted spam filterers usually offer a queuing service that holds the mail until it can be delivered.  One such company I know does this (assuming I understand you properly) is Exchange Defender - - I'd suggest contacting them to describe what you need and get a quote.
LVL 24

Accepted Solution

VB ITS earned 250 total points
ID: 40524627
I would go with Chris' suggestion and use a backup MX solution. You don't necessarily have to use the service that he has linked as there are other providers out there who can do it cheaper.

For example, DNS Made Easy have a backup MX service for $12.95 one domain per year:

There are some limitations with their service so shop around and pick one that you think best suits your client's needs.

Author Comment

ID: 40524891
@JBond2010 - I have another client with a planned migration to office365. They want to do away with on-premise server for exactly the same reason this client is having trouble. However, this client won't want the expense of office365 as he just upgraded last year, etc...

I think the redundant connection is a fabulous idea and I'm calling around for availability. In client's area, there are only three choices: Time Warner Cable (current isp with wire issues), Local ISP 5Ghz wifi broadband (calling them) and Verizon (LTE maybe, 3G definitely). And I think I have a Zyxel USG 100 sitting in inventory... LOL! Thank you for reminding me.

@VB ITS - looks like DNS Made Easy beats the pricing on BackupMX Service - thank you! This is the type of thing the client is asking for.

A lot of times, I find myself over-killing the solutions to the problem. Yes, they should probably migrate to office365. Yes, they should probably have a redundant ISP failover. But the fact is, everyone is looking for the cheapest, most effective solution. At this point it is DNS Made Easy, because even with their limitations, they are the right fit for this client.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 40524894
Experts helped me lock in and hit the target with minimal "collateral damage" (expense).  :)

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