CLEAR CHOICE TEST: 6 free email servers for small businesses

hMailServer (Windows only) wins our test; Citadel (Linux only) comes in a close second

email servers

For this review we tested six free or open source email server products: Apache James (cross-platform), Citadel (Linux-only), hMailServer (Windows-only), SmarterMail (Windows-only), Zarafa (Linux-only) and Axigen (cross-platform). Most have commercial options, but we specifically limited our testing to the free or community editions. See story version.

email servers

hMailServer

Pros: Unlimited use, easy to install and configure, flexible code base runs on most Windows versions.

Cons: Lack of native mobile and Web support

email servers

Citadel

Pros: Fully open source, no limits on users, small footprint, easy to install

Cons: Dated GUI, may not scale well for larger organizations

email servers

SmarterMail

Pros: Nice user interface, good support for mobile mail, informative tutorials.

Cons: Free version limited to 10 users on a single domain.

email servers

Apache James

Pros: Java platform runs on both Linux and Windows, `mailets’ provide modular design and flexibility.

Cons: Current stable release dated August 2009; no GUI

email servers

Axigen

Pros: Cross-platform, great user interface, easy to install, includes help features

Cons: Free version limited to 100 users

email servers

Zarafa

Pros: Comprehensive mobile support, pleasing user interface, LDAP integration.

Cons: Community edition somewhat lacking in features, installation has quite a few prerequisites.