Emails: Why is sending them so hard?
Since I like to think I’m pretty handy with computers, I like to have one of them running all the time. To that end, I bought an HP ProLiant Microserver some time ago, and always keep it on. It’s a great little low-power server, and I use it for things like storing all my files so I can access it from computers around the house, automatically making on- and off-site backups every day, allowing access to my home networks, etc.
This setup is fairly straightforward, but there is one considerable pain point: The server needs to send email. It’s currently using ZFS with RAID-Z to store my files, and I would like to be notified if there are some disk errors so I can replace the disks. The system can easily send emails, but having those emails actually get delivered and not go into spam is a very different matter.
Mail nowadays: Not so easy.
If you’ve ever tried to run your own mailserver, you know that ensuring deliverability is hard. Mail servers on the internet today are very suspicious of new servers, due to the spam problem, so if you just start sending email from your new server and your home connection, one of two things will happen: Best case, it will end up in your spam inbox, and, worst case, it will be blocked and you’ll never hear about it.
The consequences of this can range from the inconvenient to the disastrous, depending on how important the email that was being sent is, so it’s easy to see that our server’s sending capabilities have to be as robust as possible. However, this isn’t a production mail system in a large application, so how can we solve the problem without spending a lot of time on it? Well, there’s a very easy way.