Mailcow Self-Hosted Email Inboxes

Mailcow Support and Consulting Services

Mailcow is a Dockerized, self-hosted email stack for hosting inboxes at your custom domain with better privacy than G Suite or Office 365. For growing organizations, especially those with 50 to 100 inboxes or more, hosting your own email server can be far more economical than $72/address/year (formerly $60/year) for a hosted email service.

A 4GB RAM / 2 core virtual server can easily host 150 users using Mailcow, with attachable SSD block storage that can be expanded on-demand. For example, a Hetzner CX21 server for €4.90/month + 300GB block storage for €12.00/month (€202.80/year excl. VAT) can serve as a perfectly capable primary Mailcow server.

  • Cost with G Suite – $6/user/month * 150 users * 12 months = $10,800/year ≈ €9637.40/year
  • Infrastructure Cost with Mailcow – €12.00/month = €202.80/year
  • (If adding a secondary mail server, €202.80/year × 2)
  • Budget for Support/Maintenance – Starting from €200/month = €2400/year
  • Net Savings – €7034.60/year

Most employees use a few hundred megabytes or at most, a few gigabytes for years worth of email. Although the enormous storage capacities advertised by G Suite or Office 365 might seem tempting, most inboxes will use nowhere near that amount. Besides, you give up a considerable amount of privacy & control when you delegate your email hosting to a US multinational corporation such as Google or Microsoft.

The GDPR currently does not require most data controllers to store customer data (including customer data exchanged through emails) in the European Union, so long as it’s properly disclosed to the data subjects (i.e. the customers) that their data might be transferred outside the EU, EEA, or Switzerland under the EU-US Privacy Shield or a Data Processing Agreement (DPA). However, some national laws require that certain personal data is stored in-country. Hosting a private email server ensures that you always know where your data is stored, and how it’s protected – such as through the use of encryption and off-site backups.

Many organizations are hesitant to host their own email server for technical reasons, but these concerns can easily be alleviated with correctly architected solution by a managed Mailcow hosting provider.

Difficulty of Configuration – Using Docker and Docker-Compose, Mailcow incorporates a complete stack of software services necessary to run a well-functioning email server. This includes Postfix (MTA), Dovecot (POP3/IMAP), SOGo (groupware), rspamd (spam filter), in addition to system services such as Nginx, MySQL, PHP-FPM and Memcached.

Uptime / Service Availability – Email is an essential service for the modern enterprise, and unplanned downtime can severely impact day-to-date business operations. Downtime is rare with a correctly configured instance of Mailcow, and high availability setups such as Backup MX and inbox sync are available. According to the RFC 5321 standard, failed messages should be retried (typically for at least 3 days) by outgoing mail servers – so it’s very unlikely to lose an email completely.

Email Deliverability – Using a Postfix Smarthost to relay outgoing email through a SMTP email service eliminates problems with IP blacklisting and reputation. The SMTP relay can be based in the EU to avoid privacy concerns with the US PATRIOT and CLOUD Acts. Your emails will arrive in users’ inboxes with major webmail providers such as Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo.

Mailcow SOGo Groupware screenshot

Sample Mailcow Email Hosting Packages

Here are some sample configurations which Autoize offers for managed Mailcow hosting:

Bronze: Hetzner + MailGun EU (German Data Center + 10K Emails Free/Month)

  • Hetzner Cloud is one of the most well-established web hosting companies in Germany, with datacenter options in Germany (Nuremberg or Falkenstein) or Finland (Helsinki).
  • MailGun is a service by RackSpace, the world’s largest managed hosting provider, with an SMTP endpoint based in Germany for GDPR compliance. Each customer receives 10,000 emails free/month + $0.60/1,000 emails thereafter.

Silver: UpCloud + MailJet (Finnish Data Center + French Email Gateway)

  • UpCloud is a fast growing cloud hosting provider based in Helsinki, Finland. Their MaxIOPS SSD technology gives them best-in-class disk I/O and database performance, boosting the performance of Mailcow instances for larger organizations.
  • MailJet is headquartered in Paris, France with a basic paid plan for 30,000 emails for €7.16/month. They are a French company incorporated as MailJet SAS.

Gold: ExoScale + Postmark (Swiss Data Center + Best Deliverability)

  • ExoScale is a member of the A1 Group, a Tier 1 Austrian telecom provider. ExoScale datacenters are based in Switzerland, providing the highest standards of data protection in the developed world.
  • Postmark is a 100% transactional email SMTP provider (no marketing emails), with best-in-class email deliverability due to their stringent Terms of Service and a rigorous account approval process (by humans).

Contact our Mailcow consultants for a customized quote, and for more information about the setup process for a private email server.  Mailcow is compatible with Exchange, ActiveSync, and POP3/IMAP access so your users can access their inboxes using any email client including Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird, or through SOGo webmail.