A closer look at email servers for small businesses

In the world of self-hosted business email, big corporations usually turn to Microsoft Exchange. But small businesses have a lot of options, and the three offerings we’ve highlighted here are among the best.

The pricing of these email servers is typically a bargain next to Exchange – especially SmarterMail, which has a free version for up to 10 users, but of course the cost may depend on how many users you've got. If it's not a lot, get one of these programs, not Exchange. Installation is generally a snap on any Microsoft Windows-based server software.

The features of these less expensive servers are no less impressive. All are easy to set up and services are a breeze to manage, enabling you to tackle evils like spam with more aplomb. So, here are our three choicest tools to help bring messages (and not spam) to your employees at a reasonable price.

IMail is a boon for small and mid-size businesses that need an in-house email system. The server is competitively priced and full featured, but unlike many competitors, it's not overstuffed with bells and whistles.

SmarterMail is surprisingly agile server software and it’s quite easy to work with. Some of the features are buried in the interface, but that's because SmarterMail is packing in so many capabilities for small businesses. You can get 10 mailboxes (over 1 domain) for free to try it out, too.

Kerio is a strong contender on the small and mid-market of email servers, with an impressive array of features including IM with group chat, contact management, and integrated antivirus, anti-spam and archiving/backup.