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How to Correctly Configure Backup Email Server?
Problem reported by Benjamin Breedlove - 10/7/2020 at 7:24 AM
Resolved
We use SM Enterprise Build 7242 on our companies email server.  I want to configure a backup email server in case our email server goes down due to loss of power, DDOS & RDP attacks.  In that event, I want the backup email server to handle all the email coming in until the primary email server comes back up.  Is this possible?

Recently our companies email server was down for 6 hrs due to RDP attacks on the Windows server.  We are working to put it behind a firewall.  What can we do to make sure that the backup server would have taken over email traffic handling?

I appreciate your suggestions and help.

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Heimir Eidskrem Replied
Make sure you turn off all RDP access from the internet and put your servers behind a firewall.
Set up a gateway or two and point the MX records to those gateways.
So all incoming emails goes to your gateways. 
Then forwarded to your mail server.
If the mail server is down then the gateways will hold the emails until it gets back online.
How many tries and how long is configured on the gateways.
You can use smartermail for this or you can use other products.


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Seph Parshall Replied
For the gateway, do you use the Free version of SmarterMail or the same paid license?
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Benjamin Breedlove Replied
Sorry if I try to understand the meaning of the word "gateway", do you mean a backup mail server running the Free version of SM, then that is what I currently have in place.  

It has the same bindings as the primary mail server with no users and our DNS servers are pointing to both primary and backup email servers.  I did notice that when our primary email server was brought down for 6 hours, I do not think that the "gateway" or backup email server held the emails for us.   

I do not know if it had any activity, so I am wondering if I did not configure it correctly.
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Heimir Eidskrem Replied
In this case backup server means mail exchange server or gateway.
its what receives the incoming emails then forwards it to the mail server.
Its where your MX records point.

A backup server is just that, it holds the incoming emails while the mail server is not available then deliver them to the mail server when it responds.

A fail over server is a server that runs in parallel with your primary server.
Both use the same shared storage.  If the primary goes down the fail over server takes over.

It seems you are asking about the gateway option.
I have never used the free smartermail option for this but Im think that will work since no email accounts are stored on the server, it just handles incoming email (can handle outgoing too).

The MX records controls where external emails are sent so in your case thats the same as your main mail server.
If the mail server is down, email will get bounced.
If you have a gateway then the MX records will point to the gateways.  You should have at least 2 gateways.
So both gateways needs to be down for emails to get rejected.  

Where does your MX records point?
both the primary and what you call the backup server?

If they are all on the same internet connection and it goes down everything will not work of course.




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Benjamin Breedlove Replied
Where does your MX records point?
both the primary and what you call the backup server?
The MX records do point to the primary and backup email servers.  

So it sounds like I have it configured correctly.

Thanks.

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Heimir Eidskrem Replied
Does the backup server forwards the email to the main server?
Are they on the same internet connection?

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Benjamin Breedlove Replied
No they are on separate locations - East Coast and West Coast.
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Heimir Eidskrem Replied
So the backup is then forwarding the incoming emails to the primary?

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Kyle Kerst Replied
Employee Post Marked As Resolution
Bejamin, I believe you want a Backup MX server which leverages a free license of SmarterMail to queue mail for your domains while the primary is offline. Once set up, you just need to have two MX records with the backup MX having a lower priority. This ensures mail isn't sent to it unless the primary MX record is offline or unreachable. Hope this helps!
Kyle Kerst
Technical Support Specialist
SmarterTools Inc.
(877) 357-6278
www.smartertools.com
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Benjamin Breedlove Replied
Is this how to setup a Backup MX Server?  I found this link:  https://portal.smartertools.com/kb/a3133/configure-smartermail-as-a-backup-mx-server.aspx
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Benjamin Breedlove Replied
Thank you Heimir and Kyle.  I did find that I had my backup MX "Gateway" Email Server partially configured correctly.  From chatting with you, I was able to understand what I was being told.  I also found in the Online Help for my build the page https://help.smartertools.com/smartermail/current/?page=index.sysadmin-settings.general-settings&v=100.0.7242  and configured both the primary and backup servers according to instructions.  

I had most already configured, but have hopefully configured correctly now.  

Thanks again!

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