Merak -- A full-featured SMTP/POP/IMAP mail server that is a snap to set up

Merak -- A full-featured SMTP/POP/IMAP mail server that is a snap to set up

June 5, 2002

For enterprises looking for a solid but simple e-mail server that does not cost a bundle and is still long on features, giving consideration to Merak is a wise choice. The oddly named software product, developed in the Czech republic, has plenty to offer. If all that is needed are the basics of a mail server, Merak can be set up in about ten minutes. And the product has enough depth to grow along with an enterprise's needs. Albeit growing accustomed with these more advanced features will take some work.

For example, administrators can activate virus scanning for selected or all user accounts; Merak works with McAfee, FProt and the latest version of Dr Solomon's virus detection packages. The only restriction is that the scanner must be able to run from a command line. Merak also has a very attractive Web administration interface, giving administrators access to just about all the options and enabling them to set up user accounts via a Web browser. We had some trouble getting Merak started, but once the IP address of our server was established and we set one user to have administrative access, things ran fine.

We tested out the standard version of Merak on an aging Compaq 486 NT Server running with 20 MB of RAM. Certainly it should be run on faster machines, and an enterprise with several hundred user accounts will want to bulk up its server's RAM accordingly. Merak will also run on Windows 95/98, and there is a Pro version for more money that can handle thousands of mailboxes.

Merak contains both POP and IMAP servers, so administrators can run the most advanced e-mail services around. IMAP is better for handling disconnected users and is better at dealing with replicating mailboxes: Mail can be left on the server, rather than with POPs where all mail is downloaded to the client.

Merak contains many switches and options, all of which are very compactly presented in a series of tabbed Windows dialog boxes. This includes the capability to import user names from an existing NT domain controller, the capability to warn when mailbox disk size is exceeded, and several anti-spam measures.

Merak's only drawback is its documentation, which is contained in a Windows help file that comes with the product. But the software's author, Jakub Klos, returned all of our e-mail support questions — usually within a few hours. Such personal attention speaks highly for the product.

All in all, this is a very capable package and well worth a look, particularly as it can be be downloaded and trialed for 30 days for free.

Pros: Extremely easy to configure; Web administration interface; features galore

Cons: Documentation is somewhat sparse and contained in a Windows help file

Version Reviewed: 2.10.255
Reviewed by: David Strom
Last Updated: 3/28/02
Date of Original Review: 3/29/00