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FTgatePro: A Top-Notch Mail Server for Windows

FTgatePro: A Top-Notch Mail Server for Windows

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jul 25, 2002


If you'd expect an email server for heavy-duty use to be difficult to install and manage, then Floosietek' FTGatePro will show you otherwise. This Windows-based server is designed to bring many features to bear on a large number of users in a way that is quick to set up and easy to administer. Although there are limitations for multiple mail servers in large enterprise environments, FTGatePro provides support for multiple domains, multiple schedules, and scripting (new) that should suit some of the more demanding installations.

One feature of FTGatePro will be obvious during setup: You can choose to operate the server with a permanent LAN connection to the Internet (i.e., a direct connection), a temporary LAN connection, or a dial-up connection. Many mail servers use only a direct connection, yet the FTGatePro approach provides more flexibility, an especially valuable advantage for small and midsize businesses that may need to operate the mail system through an ISP over a dial-up connection. In keeping with this flexibility of configuration, a feature called SmartPop can be used to poll numerous remote POP3 mailboxes and redirect the incoming mail to local mailboxes. Despite a company name that has the potential for a chuckle and a product name that caught us off-guard as to what type of server it is, Floosietek offers one of the premiere mail servers for the Windows environment: FTgate Pro.

The features that allow mix and match among mail sources (SMTP or POP3) become most viable with the scheduling capability of FTGatePro. Among the features we tested was the dial-up service connection with a small intranet. We found that despite the relatively slow connection speed, the FTGatePro server could move mail around the company's internal mailboxes very quickly. FTGatePro supports an unlimited number of mailboxes, with eight mailbox types (user, list, group, auto-respond, robot, null, DSN, and Daemon). We used the scheduling facility to access three different POP3 sources sequentially and found it very useful, especially in conjunction with the FTScript; a variant of JavaScript, to create highly customized management of the e-mail. Floosietek provides a library of FTScript routines and reasonable documentation, but there's no "development environment," so effective scripting is in the realm of a programmer.

It was clear during our testing that FTGatePro has been optimized for the Windows environment. For example, access to the NT SAM (users) database makes multiple user setup very easy. The performance of the server, even on relatively low powered Windows 2000 systems (e.g., Pentium 2), is excellent.

When it comes to the security and integrity of the e-mail, FTGatePro is generally quite strong. A basic HTTP proxy server and point-to-point proxy server are offered as (free) add-ons, and the mail server can be connected to a number of anti-virus packages. There is a battery of filtering techniques ranging from IP filtering to "UBE" (Unsolicited Bulk Email) filtering, which uses either MAPS (Mail Abuse Preventions System) or RBL (Real-time Black Hole List). Filters can be created for words and phrases. Many filter rules and routing controls can be applied to individual user mailboxes.

Administrors can authenticate users from access to an LDAP database server. This may be sufficient; however, there is no formal authentication process, and large corporations may want other sources of authentication, such as those provided by Radius and Ecobuilder. FTGatePro also supports a form of VPN.

Web Admin is the browser-based program that lets users administer any and all of FTGatePro's options, and it is one of the major highlights. With extensive use of a "tabbed" (as in tabs in a notebook) user interface, access to a great many features is quick and easy. Even such tedious tasks as creating multiple domains - complete with a unique set of mailboxes, POP3/SMTP servers, and postmaster - can be accomplished without confusion. We would rate this administration program one of the best we've seen. There's also a real-time flow monitor, FTMonitor, and a relatively comprehensive event log to help keep an eye on the server.

The "Pro" version of FTGate is the most likely candidate for enterprise use, that is, for large to very large corporations. However, while many of its features can scale to a larger number of users, there is little provision for operating and administering multiple FTGatePro mail servers (e.g., clustering and pooling). In this regard, FTGateOffice is a slightly scaled-down and less expensive version targeted to small and midsize enterprises. The features and performance are essentially the same, with the exception of support for multiple domains, multiple schedules, and private networks.

There are limitations for scaling to a very large server configuration, and of course the limitation to the Windows operating system may be a difficulty in the mixed platform environment of an enterprise. Otherwise, FTGatePro could be added to the e-mail management of almost any enterprise with a minimum of hassle and upkeep, and we believe it to be one of the premiere mail servers for the Windows environment.

Pros: Superb user interface to access administrative functionality, The capability to do custom programming for almost any mail server feature - combined with multiple schedules - has great potential
Cons: Not ideal for very large (enterprise) installations, Relatively expensive for small businesses (FTGateOffice may be a better choice)

Version Reviewed: 4.03
Reviewed by: Nelson King
Date of Original Review: 7/25/02

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