7 Best Self Hosted Email Server Software 2023 (Ranked)

Last Updated on February 13th, 2023 by Chris Von Wilpert

Today there are about 103 different self hosted email servers to host your company email communications on. We spent 120 hours comparing the top 50 to find the seven best you can use to guarantee privacy, protection, and scalability.

What are the Best Self Hosted Email Servers?

  1. iRedMail — best of the best
  2. Modoboa — best for customization 
  3. Mail-in-a-Box — best for simplicity 
  4. Zimbra — best for collaboration 
  5. hMailServer — best for flexibility 
  6. Postfix — best for reliability 
  7. Exim — best for security

Our Verdict — Best Of The Best

Price: Starts at $499/year

iRedMail is a full-featured mail server solution that is easy to install and maintain. 

Since it's built upon open source software like Postfix and Roundcube, it's easy to find resources that extend its capabilities or that fix issues you may have.

The Best Part:

  • Easy to install and set up. iRedMail sports a simple web-based interface  anyone with zero technical knowledge can figure out.

The Worst Part:

  • Poor customer support. While iRedMail is incredibly easy to set up, it seems like the customer support team may take some time to respond, as we found on a few online reviews.

Get it if you want a self hosting email server primarily designed for Linux-based systems.

I recommend you get started for $499/year on the One year plan, then upgrade to the Three plan for $899/year if it works for your business.

(free plan)

Best For

iRedMail is best for businesses that want a free, open-source mail server solution for their Linux-based systems.

Top Features

  • Templated deployment. Migrating an old server, or restoring a crashed server is easy and quick.
  • No account limits. You can create as many domains, users, mailing lists, and admins as you want without ever paying extra charges.
  • Sturdy security features. iRedMail employs antivirus and spam protection capabilities to keep your inboxes clean as a whistle.
  • Web installer and webmail. You can set up your email server on your website with a few clicks. You can also use Roundcube webmail or/and SOGo groupware to manage mails, folders, sieve filters, and vacations, which are intuitive and easy to use.
  • Go mobile. Manage your calendars, address books , and tasks from your mobile phone.


iRedMail offers four pricing plans:

  • Free. Free forever for people getting their toes wet with hosting their own email server.
  • One year: $499 per license, for startups.
  • Two years: $699 per license, for companies.
  • Three years: $899 per license, for large companies.

All paid licenses renew at $250 per year.

Our Verdict — Best For Customization

Price: Free

Modoboa is another open-source mail server solution that is easy to use and maintain, which offers a consistent and professional look and feel.

Modoboa is modular, allowing users to easily add or remove features and tools as needed. You can even host your email on the same server as your website!

The Best Part:

  • Seamless operation. Modoboa is designed to be lightweight and swift,  guaranteeing quickness and efficiency.

The Worst Part:

  • Not very user-friendly. Modoboa is not user-friendly for non-techies. It requires more technical knowledge to be set up and managed than some other options. Even their documentation is super technical.

Get Modoboa if you want a free, open source email server that you can expand at will.

(free forever)

Best For

Modoboa is best for businesses that want a free and customizable mail hosting and management platform.

Top Features

  • Easy on developers. Since Modoboa was written in Python 3, the code is easy for developers to read, maintain, and debug. The large and active community of Python developers makes it a breeze to find help and resources for working on Modoboa.
  • “Let’s Encrypt” certified. Modoboa is endorsed by Let's Encrypt, a non-profit organization sponsored by many reputable tech companies like CISCO, Chrome, Meta, Amazon Web Services, IBM, and Shopify.
  • Add-on services. If you get stuck, you can pay for assistance from the Modoboa team. From one-time jobs like installation, to year-round maintenance of your email server, you can count on them to help you keep your email server running smoothly.
  • Up to industry standards. Modoboa comes with great features like webmail, calendars management, and administrator tools, and it offers unlimited domains, mailboxes and aliases. 
  • Amavis-powered security. Modoboa used the Amavis email filter to block spam, viruses, and other unwanted email messages. You can interact with Amavis on Modoboa to manage its settings and configuration.


Modoboa offers a single pricing plan:

  • Modoboa: Free forever!

Try Modoboa today for free.

Our Verdict — Best For Beginners

Price: Free

Mail-in-a-Box is an open-source software package that allows users to set up their own mail server quickly and easily. It includes a number of pre-configured packages like Postfix, Dovecot, and Roundcube, as well as a web-based interface for managing the server and accounts.

Mail-in-a-Box is easy to use and keep, even for users with limited technical knowledge. It includes a number of helpful tools and features to make the process of setting up and managing your mail server as simple as possible.

 Best Part:

  • Lots of third-party integrations. Mail-in-a-Box is designed to work with the most popular webmail services such as Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook.com, and Apple Mail. It can also be used as an alternative to the built-in email server in Microsoft Windows operating systems.

The Worst Part:

  • Slow load time. When you have too many inboxes in your system, it can get to a point where it takes too long to load, so make sure you keep it clean and tidy.

Get it if you want a free open source email server that is easy to set up.

(free forever)

Best For

Mail-in-a-Box is best for businesses that want a private mail server that is extra easy-to-use.

Top Features

  • Free for life. Save money on monthly subscription fees that are typically associated with commercial email services.
  • Automated backups. Mail-in–a-Box is integrated with Amazon S3 to protect your data by regularly creating and storing copies in a secured cloud-based storage service.
  • Discussion forum. Mail-in-a-Box has a very active community of users. Whenever you feel stuck, reach out to other Mail-in-a-Box users in the discussion forum to help you figure it out.
  • It’s always up-to-date. Mail-in-a-Box features Exchange ActiveSync as a beta feature for latest Outlook version users to access the most current version of their email, calendar, and other personal information data synced up.
  • Let’s Encrypt certified. You can trust your files are always safe as your server is certified by Let's Encrypt, a vetted tech-security certification body.


Mail-in-a-Box offers a single pricing plan:

  • Mail-in-a-Box: Free forever.

Our Top Three Picks

Here’s a quick summary of our top three picks:

  1. iRedMail — best of the best
  2. Modoboa — best for customization 
  3. Mail-in-a-Box — best for simplicity

Here’s a quick comparison of our top seven picks:


Entry Offer



Free plan

Starts at $499/yr



Free forever





60-day free trial

Custom quote



Free forever



Free forever



Free forever

Here are the top 50 self hosted email servers we considered in this review:

  1. iRedMail
  2. Modoboa
  3. Mail-in-a-Box
  4. Zimbra
  5. hMailServer
  6. Postfix
  7. Exim
  8. Maddy
  9. Docker MailServer
  10. Mailu
  11. Poste.io
  12. Apache James
  13. Dovecot
  14. WildDuck Mail Server
  15. MailSlurper
  16. Magma Server Daemon
  17. Imp
  18. Chasquid
  19. Mailcow
  20. Postal
  21. Haraka
  22. Mailpile
  23. Mailenable
  24. IceWarp
  25. Axigen
  26. OpenEmail
  27. Atmail
  28. Mailcow
  29. Synology MailPlus
  30. Axigen
  31. MDaemon
  32. Scalix
  33. Zoho Mail
  34. Kerio Connect
  35. SmarterMail
  36. CommuniGate Pro
  37. GroupWise
  38. Zarafa
  39. AfterLogic WebMail Pro
  40. Roundcube
  41. ISPConfig
  42. Citadel
  43. ProtonMail
  44. Yandex Mail
  45. eXchange
  46. Open-Xchange
  47. MailCleaner
  48. Dada Mail
  49. Intermedia Exchange
  50. Kolab

Is it worth hosting your own email server? 

The idea of having your own email server is an appealing one. On the upside, you'll have full control over your email server and all its settings. You'll also be able to configure it exactly how you want it, so that it's secure and efficient. Your email will be private. You won't have to worry about anyone logging into your account or reading your messages.

On the flip side, it might cost more than using a hosted email provider like Gmail or Outlook.com. You'll need technical expertise in order to set up and maintain the server yourself (or hire someone who does). An email server is not a done-once-and-for-all service.

Is it cheaper to build your own server?

Yes, it can be. Building a custom server for your business is a good way to keep the costs down.

Ordering off of a pre-built server vendor's website can be cheaper than building your own, depending on what you want and how much time you have. Some vendors offer one-stop shopping solutions that include everything from hardware and software to support, training, and more.

You can buy new hardware and install it yourself without having an IT department do the work for you. You'll save money by not having to pay someone else to set up your server and deal with any potential issues that may come up during installation or set up (like hardware incompatibility or software conflicts).

How much does it cost to have your own email domain?

The cost of having your own email domain will depend on several considerations, such as the type of extension you choose (.com, .org, .net, etc.) and the demand for the name you select. 

There are many companies offering email hosting services, with pricing ranging from free to monthly or yearly fees. You may opt for a basic email account at a lower price point, or you can pay more for extra features like increased storage capacity, spam protection and personalized branding. 

Generally, prices range anywhere from a couple bucks a month to several hundred dollars annually for an email domain and hosting service. To get the best value for your money it's wise to compare prices and features between different providers before selecting.

Where can I host a mail server?

When it comes to hosting a mail server, you have several choices. 

You can set up and manage your own server on a physical machine or virtual private server (VPS) (hardware). This provides the most control, but it also requires significant technical experience and resources to keep it running. 

Many hosting providers offer email hosting services with shared, VPS, or dedicated servers that handle the maintenance for you. 

Then, cloud-based services like Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and Microsoft 365 let you host your mail server in the cloud.

The best hosting option for you will depend on your needs, the amount of storage you need, how much control and customization you want, and your budget. These services often include a range of features for managing email plus flexible pricing plans for all budgets.

Does Microsoft do email hosting?

Yes, Microsoft provides email hosting services as part of its Microsoft 365 (previously known as Office 365) suite of tools. Microsoft 365 offers different email hosting solutions to meet different needs and budgets, such as: 

  1. Exchange Online: A cloud-based service that includes support for emails, calendaring, contacts and tasks. This email solution is tailored for businesses and organizations and it includes features like custom domain support, advanced protection from spam/malware and integration with other Microsoft 365 applications.
  2. Outlook.com: This is a free web-based email service used to send/receive emails using a custom domain name. Outlook.com offers many features like protection from spam/malware, integration with other Microsoft services (ex: OneDrive or Skype) and multi-language support.

Microsoft 365 also provides additional business/organization tools like online meetings & video conferencing, file storage & sharing as well as productivity apps such as Word, Excel & PowerPoint.

Where can I host email with my own domain name for free?

If you're looking for free options to host emails with your own domain name, there are a few options. You can use a free web-based email service like Gmail or Outlook.com and utilize your own domain name for your email addresses. However, these services typically have limited features and storage space.

Other free hosting providers like Zoho Mail, Hushmail, ProtonMail, Yandex or Mail.com offer basic email hosting features but may impose restrictions on storage, bandwidth and other features - not to mention displaying ads or branding on your emails. 

If you want full control over your email server, you can set up and host it on your own hardware or VPS - but it requires technical knowledge and resourcefulness. It's important to keep in mind that free hosting may come with certain limitations, so if you need more advanced features or more storage space, you might need to pay for a hosting plan instead.

Do I need to buy hosting for email?

When it comes to deciding whether you need to purchase hosting for email, it all depends on your needs and goals. To help decide, here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Do you want to use a custom domain name like "yourname@yourdomain.com''?
  2. Do you need full control over your email server and settings?
  3. Are you willing to pay for extra features or storage?

If not, using a free, web-based email service such as Gmail or Outlook.com might be the best option — but bear in mind that these services usually impose restrictions on features and storage, and sometimes display advertisements.

Does Google have an email server?

Yes, Google provides email hosting through their Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Their different plans cover different needs and budgets. 

For instance, Gmail is a free web-based service with spam and malware protection, integration with Google Drive/Calendar, and support for various languages. If you're looking for more features, they offer Google Workspace for Business with custom domains, advanced security features, and connection to other Google Workspace apps. 

Additionally, they offer other business-oriented tools and services like video conferencing, file storage/sharing, and productivity apps like Docs/Sheets/Slides.

The Bottom Line

Here are our top picks for the best self hosted email server to try this year:

  1. iRedMail — best of the best
  2. Modoboa — best for customization 
  3. Mail-in-a-Box — best for simplicity 
  4. Zimbra — best for collaboration 
  5. hMailServer — best for flexibility 
  6. Postfix — best for reliability 
  7. Exim — best for security