Anyone who’s ever worked with sendmail, the venerable Unix-based e-mail server,
knows both the power and nightmarish complexity with which an e-mail server administrator has to contend. Put simply, an e-mail server is like the post office, and it acts as a way-station for sending outgoing messages and receiving and delivering
incoming messages. Most Internet users do not need to run their own e-mail servers;
their ISP already takes care of this function.
Thus, the target audience for a product like True North’s Internet Anywhere e-mail server are businesses and organizations that want to send, receive, and control their e-mail system in-house. Why in-house? Some organizations may want to deliver messages across an Intranet without permanent Internet access. Or they may want to gain increased configurability over user accounts, privileges, and automation, such as listservs and automated reply services.
Internet Anywhere e-mail server addresses all of these needs, but only for those organizations
wishing to run such a system on a Windows-based PC. Disk space usage for mail
servers can be deceptive — although the installed footprint of Internet Anywhere
tops only 2 MB, keep in mind that the server may receive a large volume
of incoming message in queue for recipients. While users can configure the server to manage disk space requirements, it’s important to remember the need to allocate
a sufficient amount of disk space for message handling.
True North has covered the basic POP and SMTP protocols, meaning that the software
is compatible with all mainstream e-mail clients people might use to send
and receive messages, such as Eudora, Outlook Express, Netscape’s
Messenger, and my personal choice, Natural E-Mail System’s the Bat!.
At its most basic, the role of an e-mail server is to send outgoing
messages from authorized users and deliver incoming messages to those users.
Internet Anywhere offers an intuitive user management interface wherein administrators
can create and manage e-mail users. Each user may be assigned individual settings
for forwarding, auto-reply settings, and quota constraints (message size, disk
usage, and the number of messages).
Beyond merely passing messages between people, Internet Anywhere can also act on its own to process incoming messages for particular kinds of requests. For example, an InfoServer mailbox can deliver specified documents on demand. True North likens this to a “fax-back” service. Although the term “fax” may be misleading here, the InfoServer operates in much the same way. While InfoServer is sort of like a one-way listserv, Internet Anywhere also offers a more traditional listserv that True North has labeled a Mailing List. This is the type of list to which users may subscribe and distribute messages to all others subscribed to the list. Listserv configuration can sometimes be a tricky process, but Internet Anywhere’s GUI is intuitive and makes mailing lists much less scary than they often are to administer.
It’s no surprise that controlling spam has become a major requirement
of e-mail servers. Unsolicited messages flood into users’ accounts, and blocking
these at the e-mail server level can save resources and provide users with
a beneficial service. Unfortunately, spam is a moving target and impossible
to fully detect.
That said, Internet Anywhere offers several weapons in the
fight against spam. SMTP relaying is a method by which spammers can use your
e-mail server to distribute unsolicited messages, and most modern e-mail
servers disable relaying for this reason. Internet Anywhere can disable relaying,
but it’s not disabled by default, a small nit. Beyond this, Internet Anywhere
can also kill incoming messages from specified addresses, incoming connections
from specified IP addresses, and its filters can consult public antispam lists
for known spam sources.
Ethics aside, Internet Anywhere also slips omniscient power to its owner, allowing
configurable monitoring of users’ messages. The software can automatically copy
all sent messages to a specified address — in effect monitoring all users of
the server — or copy only those messages sent by specific users.
Despite its unfortunately broad name since the software serves only e-mail, Internet Anywhere is a well-designed and easy to manage application that can deftly handle the e-mail serving needs of a small or large organization. With intuitive interfaces and reasonable power under the hood, this product requires only a small learning curve for a network manager.
Pros: Quick install, Fast deployment into action with intuitive interface and reasonable level of configurability, Allows organizations to have power over e-mail services without the need for a “genius” Unix administrator who understands sendmail
Cons: Security screws could be tightened up even more (e.g., disabling
SMTP relaying by default and allowing administrators to change SMTP connection messages so as not to reveal brand and version of server); Product is Windows-only
Version Reviewed: 3.2.4
Reviewed by: Aaron Weiss
Date of Original Review: 11/16/00