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Review: 6 free email servers for small business

hMail Server (Windows only) comes in first, Citadel (Linux only) is a close second

By Susan Perschke, Network World
September 17, 2012 07:05 AM ET

Page 7 of 7

The calendar and task functionality seems solid, although it would be nice to click into the calendar to create a new entry. We liked the notes section where you can put up small Post-It like notes of different colors with reminders.

Overall we found the interface to be functional and easy to use; it might not feel as Web 2.0 modern as some of the other web interfaces we tested, but our preview of the upcoming release showed major UI improvements on the way.

Citadel is also available as a virtual appliance that can run on KVM or VMware. These pre-built Linux installations are ready to go out of the box, complete with anti-spam and anti-virus. Load balancing is also available, but we tested with a single server setup.


Axigen's free mail server provides an alternative to open source. Just like SmarterMail it is a full version of the commercial offering, but with limits on capacity (100 users). It is available for RPM distros, Debian, Mandriva, FreeBSD, Solarias and Windows Server. We decided to go with Windows 64-bit version and installed it on a Windows Server 2008 R2 server. The installation is available as an .MSI file and the installation was very simple with a prompt for Admin password and which protocols to use.

Axigen is managed from a Web interface that we found comprehensive and easy to navigate. The use of a collapsible menu keeps the navigation less cluttered, but keeps all functionality at your fingertips. Axigen provides all features you would expect in a complete mail server. It has built-in support for Kaspersky anti-virus and anti-spam and it can be integrated with other solutions such as CommTouch, SpamAssassin and ClamAV.

Setting up a new domain and new users was easy. Both offer a 'quick create' option where you enter just the basics or you can expand the property sheet to modify properties to a very granular level. For instance, you can specify which protocols are available for a user, effectively only allowing the POP or Web access. The AJAX Web client interface is clearly meant as an Outlook replacement in not just look and feel, but also functionality. If you are used to Outlook, you will feel right at home with not much need for adjustment.

Another neat feature, especially when you're not familiar with a product, is the contextual help that is displayed by default in a right-hand column. It is not obtrusive like a pop-up would be and it has just enough information to be useful. Once you become familiar with the interface, you can minimize the help function.

Perschke is CSO for Arc Seven Technology. She is also an experienced technical writer, and has written numerous white papers for a number of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies. Susan can be reached at

Read more about voip & convergence in Network World's VoIP & Convergence section.

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