To POP3 Connector or not to POP3 Connector - that is the question

Discussion in 'Windows Small Business Server' started by Mike, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Hi folks,

    Looking for advice and opinions from those running Exchange on SBS2003. I
    called my ISP yesterday to discuss what was needed on their end for me moving
    to Exchange instead of having our ISP host our e-mail. We want features like
    shared calendaring, and the ability for users to get to outlook from anywhere
    so they can get all of their e-mail. The ISP's webmail will only let users
    see a limited amount of mail stored on the ISP's server.
    Anyway the fellow I talked to seemed knowledgable enough about what I was
    trying to do, and he suggested that the easiest method was not to completely
    host my own e-mail, but use the SBS2003 POP3 connector that comes with
    SBS2003. They have many clients doing that with no issues, and the advantage
    of that would be that if my SBS/Exchange server was down for some reason (and
    it's already 3 years old), users could still use their webmail program
    temporarily when we get our box back up and running. I asked if we would
    lose any functionality by doing that as opposed to not using the POP3
    connection, and he said no.

    I know everyone has an opinion on this, and have read on this forum those
    who think it's fine, and those who say not to use it. Can I get some
    pros/cons and advice? It really doesn't matter to me, I just want to be able
    to use Exchange, and it's features.

    Thanks,

    Mike
     
    Mike, Aug 2, 2007
    #1
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  2. Mike

    Costas Guest

    Just go ahead and use your Exchange on your SBS. Your users will have all
    all the features you requested. I don't agree with the part where you have
    to host the email at the ISP and use POP3. You can have the email come
    directly to your server. For backup purposes you can get a backup email
    service for about $15/month which can queue the emails for when the server
    is down. If you don't want to spend the money, you can keep the ISP server
    as you backup and use both Exchange and POP3 at the same time.

    Setting it up it's easier that you might think and if you have any issues,
    just post here in this newsgroup

    Costas
     
    Costas, Aug 2, 2007
    #2
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  3. Mike

    aus Guest

    Hi, you'll often get a load of rhetoric not based in any fact when you
    ask about POP3 - many people are a little entrenched.

    I use both methods across a few sites. SMTP is nicer though more
    problematic when things fail, but that is rarely.


    So quick pros and cons:


    1. POP3 collection is easy to use - any email program can be set to
    receive email if Exchange goes off-line; keeping Outlook Express
    pre-configured as a backup is a nice fall-back on POP3 sites.

    2. BCC issues - BCCs (blind copies) are not handled with the POP
    connector from MS - advice is to use a decent 3rd party POP connector.

    [http://support.microsoft.com/kb/265739]


    3. Efficient spam filtering is harder with POP collection - depending on
    how you do it. SMTP is more efficient as filtering can drop a connection
    before a download starts. If the spam control is on the client PC itself
    (e.g. using the spam filter in Outlook 2003/07 or Spambayes etc.) then
    its not an issue, otherwise you can get a POP connector with integrated
    spam control.

    Its easier to setup a wider range of 3rd party spam filters for SMTP but
    some - like GFI - have POP connectors in them.


    4. You control the downloading of mail with POP so the server cant be
    blasted by spam attacks that probe the server for open relay or
    directory harvesting - pop3 collection is safer in this respect as SMTP
    allows anyone to connect to you at any time and 'test' you [ever looked
    at a mail server being connected to in real time? - you'll see multiple
    apparently random connects/disconnects]

    5. A little more admin overhead with POP3 connectors - you have to
    specify and enter a extra details per user - not a real issue unless you
    have many users.

    6. POP mail is collected at a specified interval whereas SMTP you get
    mail as soon as its sent. The POP collection interval is selectable, but
    you need a registry setting to get it to more frequently than 15 mins on
    the MS connector. The MS connector is also poor in that it messes up if
    its still downloading when the next cycle starts - advise is to use a
    3rd party connector if you want to check mail every couple of minutes or so.

    7. SMTP needs a static IP (recommended anyway) or a managed dynamic IP -
    so that your mail is always directed correctly to you - this is a bit
    more admin.


    As far as Exchange features there is no difference in what the end user
    will see as their mailboxes are always in Exchange anyway - so no
    difference in functionality there.

    I prefer SMTP, as most do, as its a cleaner more scalable solution - but
    there isn't anything actually 'wrong' with POP3 collection and it
    actually has a some advantages as well as disadvantages.
     
    aus, Aug 2, 2007
    #3
  4. Mike

    Brian Cryer Guest

    When we moved from an external POP3 mailbox to letting Exchange receive our
    email directly, one of the big differences some of our users noticed was
    that emails arrived in their mailbox almost straight away. So there are
    practical advantages of not using the POP3 connector route.

    I get the impression (could be wrong) that you currently have one external
    pop3 mailbox for each user. If that is the case then you will find it all a
    whole lot easier to manage if you take it in house. If I'm wrong and you
    actually use a single catch-all mailbox then I believe the POP3 connector
    may have trouble identifying the correct recipient of BCC'd messages.

    As for the possibility of your server being down, well that will happen.
    Maybe not for years, but it will happen eventually. It may still work out
    cheaper for you to rent a backup mail server (to receive your mail when your
    server is down and relay it to you) then to use your ISP, but that all
    depends on the relative costs. If your server were only down for a matter of
    hours then it probably isn't an issue because sending email systems should
    try again. One system I look after uses an external site with separate pop3
    mailboxes for each account (much like you probably have now) but has that
    configured as the secondary email server, so email normally goes straight to
    the server but if the server is down then emails get routed to external
    mailboxes which the pop3 connector will occasionally poll.

    At the end of the day, you are the one who will be responsible for
    administering and troubleshooting it, so go for whichever you feel most
    comfortable with. If you go the pop3 connector route then you can always
    migrate later. If you go the route of letting exchange receive your email
    directly then I think you're unlikely to regret it.

    Even if Exchange receives your email directly you may have to experiment
    whether or configure exchange to send via your ISP or to send directly. IP
    addresses that ISPs allocate sometimes end up on blacklists. The site where
    I am now the IP address isn't on any blacklist that I'm aware of (but our
    ISP's smtp server is), whereas another site I look after the reverse is true
    (not because the server sends spam, it doesn't, its just in an unfortunate
    address ranage).

    The other thing to consider, probably a no-brainer, but your internet
    connection is on 24x7? If it isn't for any reason then leave everything at
    your ISP.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Brian Cryer, Aug 2, 2007
    #4
  5. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Costas,

    Thanks for the response. I'm not sure what you mean by paying $15/month as
    a backup. How does that work?

    Thanks,

    Mike
     
    Mike, Aug 2, 2007
    #5
  6. POP connectors are not recommended....and are liable to cause you lots of
    problems down the road. For myriad reasons,it is much better to host your
    own mail. You don't even need a static public IP (although it's
    recommended).

    See http://www.swinc.com/resource/exch_smtp_diatribe.htm

    For 'backup' mail, you can have a secondar/lower preference MX record that
    points at someone else's server for store/forward (automatic redelivery for
    X days to the higher-preference MX record).

    If you absolutely *must* use a POP connector of any sort, at least use one
    that receives/collects the POP mail & then hands it off to the Exchange
    server via SMTP (which is how Exchange expects to handle mail). POPBeamer &
    POPCon are both good.
     
    Lanwench [MVP - Exchange], Aug 2, 2007
    #6
  7. Mike

    Costas Guest

    Mike,

    There are services like 'dnsmadeeasy.com'
    (http://www.dnsmadeeasy.com/s0306/prod/mailbk.html) which provide backup
    mail services. The way this works, you have the secondary MX records point
    to their servers. The primary MX record points to your SBS server so
    Exchange can receive the emails. If Exchange goes down, or you reboot the
    server for some reason, the emails are forwarded to th backup mail servers
    and are queued there, until Exchange comes backup online at which point the
    mail waiting in the queue is send to your server

    Costas
     
    Costas, Aug 2, 2007
    #7
  8. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Brian,

    Thanks aslo for your thorough response. Currently our ISP hosts our e-mail
    and all users have accounts as such, about 35 in all, so you are right that
    users have external pop3 accounts. Any other advice, let me know. I'm new
    to Exchange and nervous about administering it.

    Thanks,

    Mike
     
    Mike, Aug 2, 2007
    #8
  9. Mike

    Mike Guest

    Aus,

    Thanks for the thorough response. It sounds overall like you think SMTP is
    the way to go. I'm just nervous, never having ran Exchange before, I want to
    be as sure as possible that things are working properly.

    Thanks,

    Mike


     
    Mike, Aug 2, 2007
    #9
  10. Mike

    Montreal MCT Guest

    Hi Mike,

    I have never been a big fan of using the POP3 Connector tool with SBS. If
    you want to implement redundancy in case your server goes off-line I would
    suggest you set up a secondary MX server to your ISP, but have the primary
    MX record to your server. That way you will still have the failover, with
    all of the advantages of using Exchange as your mail server.

    Good luck!

    M
     
    Montreal MCT, Aug 2, 2007
    #10
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