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8 Best Mail Servers for Windows 2024

8 Best Mail Servers for Windows 2024

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Updated on March 06, 2024
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Have you ever wondered how companies set up a website domain email? I mean those [email protected] emails. If you need to run a mailing system for your website, then you need a mail server.

Mail servers work like an online post office. Why is it important to know about mail servers, you might ask. We send and receive emails in a blink of an eye, but the truth is that each email goes through a number of mail servers to reach its destination in that same blink of an eye. There are two types of mail servers, incoming servers, and outgoing servers, running on different protocols to regulate sending and receiving emails for the accounts hosted on them.

We mainly use web-based emails like Gmail for personal use. But if you have a website for your business and you need a mailing system dedicated to it, then you need to invest in your own mail server.

There are Linux mail servers and Windows mail servers. In this blog post, I will tell you all about mail servers, protocols, and the best mail server Windows solutions.

What are Email Protocols?

Email protocols are a set of rules that govern how email is transmitted between Windows mail servers. Simply put, email protocols are the protocols used to send and receive emails. Different protocols are available for accessing your emails, downloading emails, and sending emails. Your mail server settings will determine what protocols are used for these purposes and the type of mail client that connects to the mail server. The three main email protocols are POP3, SMTP, and IMAP.

SMTP — Simple Mail Transport Protocol

Simple Mail Transport Protocol or SMTP is a protocol used for sending emails. Your email client and several other Windows email servers that are involved with the process will use SMTP to route the email and direct it to the recipient’s mailbox.
SMTP servers come in two variations: relay servers and receivers. Relays accept emails from users and then route the messages to the recipient. Receivers accept mail from relays and deliver the message to a mailbox. When you push send for your email, your “Outgoing Email server” will use DNS to look up the internet address behind your recipient’s email address, and then tries to contact the receiver mail server. The “receiver” should, on the other hand, have configured a DNS Mail Exchanger or MX record so that senders can find them on the internet. The relay will use that record and SMTP to deliver the message to the receiver.
SMTP advantages:
- Allows bulk emailing
- Cost-effective
- Email tracking options

POP — Post Office Protoco

IMAP — Internet Message Access Protocol

Best Free Mail Server Software for Windows

Windows mail servers can be found in a variety of different forms. Some are free, while others come with a price tag. The best free mail servers are those that are easy to set up and use while offering a wide range of features. These best mail server Windows solutions must have the following features:

  • An MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) to support outgoing emails from multiple users.
  • An MDA (Mail Delivery Agent) to support sending emails to the inbox.
  • Support IMAP, POP3, or both.
  • An effective email spam filter.
  • Security measures like antiviruses to protect your mailbox.

Considering these features, I’ve gathered a list of the best free Windows mail servers:

hMail Server
hMail is an open-source, free mail server software for Windows that supports IMAP/POP3 and SMTP. With hMail Server, you are free to use any webmail that supports IMAP and SMTP.
hMail is the best email server for Windows since it comes with built-in anti-spam functionality, that is SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and SURBL. You can implement other third-party anti-spam systems as well. hMail also provides SSL encryption, mail backup, virtual domains, MX backup, and more.
Another one of our best mail server for Windows solutions is called MailEnable, which is a mail server software for Windows that comes both in free and paid versions.
The paid version comes with a great range of features, however, the free version of MailEnable is just enough for the average user. It supports POP3, free SMTP server Windows, and IMAP-based email services.

In addition to managing your mail, MailEnable free offers many other features:

  • AJAX webmail client
  • POP and SMTP mail services supporting unlimited users and domains.
  • Manage all your contacts in your web browser
  • Webmail Calendar
  • Appointment Scheduling & Invitations
  • Free & Busy Scheduling
  • Webmail Tasks
  • Control Panel Integration
  • Out-of-Office Start/End Times for Autoresponder
  • SMTP Authentication, Integrated Windows Authentication, Relay control.
  • Anti-Spam- PTR record checking, DNS blacklisting, auto-banning of IP addresses, and more.
  • Management Console
  • Inline YouTube Player and MP3 Media Player
Zimbra is another great free and open-source Windows SMTP server that you can download on 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10 machines. To support common mail protocols such as POP3, IMAP, and SMTP, it offers POP over TLS, SMTP over TLS, IMAP IDLE, and more.
Security-wise, Zimbra offers SSL encryption as well as SPF anti-spam system. Apart from synchronizing your mail, it can also synchronize your calendar and contacts. It aggregates Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail (Outlook), and other POP/IMAP mail accounts. A great feature of Zimbra is that it is a dedicated migration tool which helps users migrate from another mail server software to Zimbra very easily. It is available for desktop Windows 10 and other operating systems.
Axigen is a calendar and mail server software for Windows with both paid and free versions. If you don’t want to spend money on the paid version, you can still use its free edition for up to 5 users.
Axigen helps you perform all the common tasks of communication and mailing. You can use it as both a calendar and a mail server on your Windows system. As a standard mail server, it supports POP3, IMAP, and SMTP protocols.

Axigen Windows mail server takes security and anti-spam very seriously and leaves no room for any security concern. It supports fast and secure email transfer and offers many useful features such as address book integration, contacts import and export, customizable rules and filters, and more. Apart from the desktop version of Axigen, you can find a web edition from where you can manage your admin console. Axigen is among the best mail servers for Linux as well.

Apache James
If you have been looking for the best free mail server software for Windows, you might have heard of Apache James. James is short for Java Apache Mail Enterprise Server.
Apache James is a free mail server software for Windowsand comes with a modular architecture based on a rich set of modern and efficient components for a complete, stable, secure, and extendable server running on JVM (Java Virtual Machine).

By assembling the components you need, you can create your own personal solution for managing emails. Then you can custom filter them using the James Mailet Container. James is completely portable since it runs on JVM and is platform-independent.

Some of the features of Apache James include:

  • Support for standard email protocols such as POP3, IMAP, and SMTP as well as LMTP, ManageSieve, and JMAP
  • Mailet Container: independent, extensible, and pluggable email processing agents
  • Storage API: Mailbox API, Search API, User API
  • Storage implementations: Cassandra, PostgreSQL, HSQLDB, MySQL, ElasticSearh, etc.
  • Administration: JMX, REST, command line

Your James server can also be used as Mail Transfer Agent, by enabling the only SMTP or as an IMAP Mail Delivery Agent.

OpenText FirstClass is not just a Windows mail server. Instead, it is an all-in-one tool for teamwork, communication improvement manager, etc.
With this solution, you can set up the mail server for yourself or your team members. It supports IMAP, POP3, SMTP, and SMTP over TLS, but unfortunately, it lacks support for IMAP IDLE.

FirstClass offers SSL encryption, ActiveSync, webmail management, and more. It is available for free, but there is also a paid Enterprise edition with many additional features and dedicated support.

Kolab Groupware
It is widely accepted that Kolab Groupware is one of the best free and open source email server for Windows. This can be attributed to a number of factors, such as its feature-richness, reliability, and ease-of-use.
Kolab Groupware integrates well with other software, making it an ideal email server software for businesses and organizations. It supports a variety of clients, such as Roundcube web frontend, Mozilla Lightning, Mozilla Thunderbird, and KDE PIM-Suite Kontact.

The Kolab Groupware has many features, including:

  • Its address books allow clients to manage their contacts.
  • A calendar enabling users to view their schedules and appointments.
  • Kolab Groupware shows file-cloud and tasks.
  • This mail server supports ActiveSync and CalDAV, CardDAV, and WebDAV.
  • It has a very user-friendly interface that makes it easy to learn and use.
  • It gives you access to IMAP4rev1 and POP3.
  • Additionally, Kolab Groupware can handle large amounts of traffic without any problems.
If you are looking for a powerful yet easy-to-use Windows mail server, Zentyal is the perfect solution. Zentyal can handle large volumes of email without any slowdown and allows you to receive messages from external accounts such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
It includes a built-in firewall to help protect your network from online threats and also has spam filtering features that help to keep your inbox clean. In addition, Zentyal can be used as a secure email server, providing encryption and authentication for messages.

Some of the other features that make Zentyal an excellent choice for a mail server include:

  • It has an address book to access your contacts directly from your phone or tablet.
  • It has calendars and notes and helps you in managing your appointments.
  • Zentyal supports built-in CalDAV & CardDAV.
  • This Windows mail server has the ability to filter countries as well as black listings.

Best Open Source Mail Server

An open-source mail server is a great solution for businesses looking for an affordable and customizable option. Open-source servers can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each business, and they are often more affordable than proprietary servers. Additionally, open-source Windows mail servers are often more secure, as they are updated more frequently than proprietary servers.

One of the drawbacks of open-source servers is that they can be more difficult to use than proprietary servers. However, with a little training, most businesses can use an open-source server effectively.

Some of the mail servers in our list are open-source servers. You can compare them and choose the best one that fits your needs, but generally speaking, the best open-source server for Windows is hMail. Windows mail server software can be expensive, but there is a great, free alternative: hMailServer. It's the easiest mail server around, and it's free to set up and use.

Self-Hosted Mail Server Windows Version — Do you need a VPS?

Self-hosted mail servers obviously require a computer. The catch is, how powerful that computer has to be to handle email transfer with a fast network connection and zero downtime?

A suitable computer for handling a self-hosted mail server can be quite expensive. It will also have maintenance burdens and is location-limited. A solution to all these issues is to look for an alternative; a Virtual Private Server.

A VPS is an affordable hosting solution that is not bound to location and can be set up in any destination you need to lower latency. Virtual servers are created on powerful servers working with ultra-fast network connections, minimum latency, and no maintenance needed on your side. At Cloudzy, we offer cloud-based virtual servers, removing scalability limitations and improving server reliability. We have Windows virtual private servers you can use to setup and host your own mail servers. We offer Windows Server versions pre-installed for you. Located in more than 15 global locations, our 99.95% uptime guaranteed servers are pretty affordable! Go ahead and check out our plans.


Windows VPS Hosting

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Free Windows SMTP Server

As it was mentioned, Windows mail servers have SMTP servers to send and receive emails from any computer with an internet connection. Many mail servers, such as MailEnable, provide users with a free SMTP server. This can be a great option for small businesses or individuals who want to save money.

When looking for a free SMTP server, it's important to ensure the provider you choose offers features that will meet your needs. For example, some providers only allow users to send a limited number of messages daily. Others may not offer support for certain email clients or protocols. Before signing up for a free SMTP server, be sure to read the provider's terms and conditions carefully. This will help ensure that you understand the restrictions and limitations of the service.

Free Mail Server for Older Windows Versions

Most mail server solutions that support Windows, support its older versions too. Especially the solutions that have been around for at least five years should do just fine on older Windows operating systems. Zimbra is an example of such mail server solutions with its support for older 32-bit systems. Although, the development of Zimbra Desktop has been discontinued since October 2019.

Another mail server solution that probably will have the least problems on an older Windows 8 or 7, is Apache James. Since this mail server is based on Java and runs on JVM, it is platform-independent and if you are running JVM 6 or above, it should work just fine on your Windows 8.1, Windows 8, or Windows 7 system.

How to Choose the Best Windows Mail Server?

When looking for the best Windows mail server, you will have to consider many different factors. One of the most important things to consider is how many users you need to support. If you have a small business with only a handful of employees, you may not need a robust mail server. However, if you are running a large company with hundreds or even thousands of employees, you will need a Windows mail server that can handle a lot of traffic.

You also need to consider the features that are important to you. Because not all servers are created equal. For example, do you need spam filtering capabilities? Do you want the ability to access your mail from any device easily? Some servers are more reliable than others, some have better customer support, and some have more features. Once you've determined your needs, you can start narrowing down your choices.

Another factor to think about is your budget. Some mail servers are more expensive than others. You don't want to invest in a server that's too expensive or doesn't fit your needs. The best option is to start with a free email server.

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best Windows mail server for your needs. By taking the time to research your options, read reviews, and ask questions, you can be sure to find the server that is right for you.

A Comparison of the Best Mail Servers for Windows

Nearly all mail server software supports the trio of POP3, IMAP, and SMTP. But there are various other features that may come into consideration when you are choosing the best mail server solution for you to run on Windows OS.

In the table below, we are going to list and compare different features of the mentioned free Windows mail servers:


hMail Server




Apache James


Kolab Groupware


How to Setup a Mail Server for Windows Server

No matter what mail server you choose, setting up a mail server for Windows server requires a few key steps. First off, you need to install the IIS (Internet Information Services) role and the SMTP server from your server manager. Then you have to configure the SMTP server properties like the domain and relay option. Now you can create DNS records for the mail server’s domain. This is to ensure the proper email delivery system.

After setting up the fundamentals, you can begin setting up your user accounts and mailboxes using the Mailbox feature in your server manager. Before using your mail server, test its functionality by sending and receiving emails. Ensure the necessary ports are open and your DNS records are configured correctly.

Finding the Best Windows Mail Server — Wrap Up

Any good Windows mail server should support the most basic email protocols, meaning SMTP for sending email, and IMAP and/or POP3 for receiving or reading emails.

Other important features include support for secured connection, meaning SSL encryption, SMTP over TLS, and POP ever TLS. An anti-spam system capable of blocking most spam emails will save you a lot of time of effort sifting through emails to throw away unwanted ones.

If you need a VPS for your self-hosted mail server, Cloudzy’s Windows VPS is the right solution. You can choose a location from our 15+ global locations to minimize latency. Our data centers are equipped with the latest technologies to offer stable, high-performance servers with a fast network connection and 99.95% uptime, all at the most affordable prices in the market!

emma bennet
Emma is a content creator with an interest in digital marketing. She has been working as a writer and social media specialist for a few years. She enjoys hanging out with her dogs and writing great blog posts.


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