Looking for feedback re replacing previous Plesk email management on new ServerPilot/DigitalOcean/Ubuntu 18.04

Posted December 4, 2019 972 views
WordPressGetting StartedEmailDigitalOceanApplicationsUbuntu 18.04

Hi guys,
New here, so be gentle! ;-)

We recently migrated 11 WP websites from Vultr/Plesk to ServerPilot/DigitalOcean on Ubuntu 18.04 Droplet. Website migrations were fine, but I didn’t realize that email accounts would be such a gigantic pain in the rear-end!

Could some of you old hands recommend a simple but reliable replacement for Plesk’s email management? We need to set up new business email addresses to replace the current addresses, as quickly as possible. I have read most of the Q&As here, and it looks like our options are:

[1] Self-host a mail server on a separate Droplet – which would you recommend for ease of use and reliability for a Linux noob? iRedMail and Mail-in-a-Box seem like the most popular solutions.

[2] Set up something like Plesk (VestaCP, Webmin)on a separate Droplet – which, if any, would you recommend for ease of use and basic features like email management, file management?

[3] Use a mail forwarding solution – which are the most popular and affordable? Currently looking at Mailgun for a solution here.

[4] Give up and farm the problem out to someone like Google and let them collect and sell our clients’ personal data? Not really a ‘solution’, but an option, albeit a bad one!

Any thoughts/feedback/solutions greatly appreciated!


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1 answer

Hi @terrychadban,

This is a really good question. You have also done a really good job with the research, I would say that all of the 4 solutions that you’ve mentioned are perfectly valid!

Having said that it would really depend on your needs, for example:

  • Going for a self-hosted solution like iRedMail and Mail-in-a-Box, is definitely a great way to go. The setup would consume less resources in comparison to a full-blown control panel solution like VestaCP and you would still have full control of your setup.

  • On the other side, if you decide to go with a control panel like VestaCP, this might be handy if you are going to be hosting multiple websites and if you would prefer to manage your websites via a GUI rather than the command line.

  • Using a third-party solution like Google or Mailgun would also work. The benefit is that it would keep your emails separate from your server, but the downside is that it could be quite costly compared to hosting your own mail server.

My conclusion is that all of the solutions that you’ve mentioned are going to work, it just depends on your needs and personal preferences.

Hope that this helps!

  • Indeed I agree with @bobbyiliev, it really depends on your requirements and the time and effort that you are willing to put in.

    I personally would go for option 1. But if you don’t want to deal with the setup and the support of your own server, you could just outsource this to Mailgun or Google but of course this comes at a specific price.

    Good luck!

  • Hi @bobbyiliev thanks for your detailed answer. Being an Aussie, I’ll start at the end of your reply and work my way up! :-)

    I contacted Mailgun ‘Support’ to see what they recommended, and still waiting for an initial reply after four days. In the meantime I set up a WP SMTP plugin on one of our demo sites and tried to verify the domain using Mailgun’s instructions and after four days it still wasn’t accepted by their system for some reason so I gave up on that route.

    A lot of our clients are creative types who hate Microsoft and Google with equal passion, so GSuite wasn’t an option unless we went ahead and set it up without their knowledge, and that isn’t the way we roll! :-)

    I also contacted Zoho Mail to see what they recommended, and the free option might work fine for individual small business owners who just want one or two email addresses for their business, but we would have needed to use their paid options to manage multiple email accounts, and that was going to cost ten times what we were paying for full cloud hosting before, so that wasn’t an option for us.

    In the end we decided to go with a self-hosted solution, using a dedicated DO Droplet, running a lightweight but full-featured control panel, Virtualmin was recommended by the freelancer who is setting it up as we speak. Because it is hosted on a separate server to the server storing our WP websites, I don’t think the file manager is going to be much use to us, but the ease of setting up more email accounts, and the stats section should make it worthwhile for us.

    We are now using ServerPilot to set up and manage the DO droplet the WP websites are hosted on, and definitely recommend their setup, our websites are now running more than 10% faster than they were on an identical Vultr server because of ServerPilot’s configuration which is specifically optimized for Wordpress.

    But they strongly advised against using any sort of mail server or control panel on the same server as the website hosting, so we have taken their advice and used a separate server primarily for the mail accounts.

    I hope this thread will save the next generation from going through the nightmare that I have been through in the last week or so, who knew email could be so complicated!

    Terry Chadban