Everyone wants something for nothing, especially your boss. But the results can be costly. That cheap and dirty installation you did last week has gone bad. They’ll be burning you in effigy tonight if you don’t fix it quick.

TechRepublic member Luke Mason, an IT manager for a British CD and cassette manufacturer, recently described how he ran into a buzz saw after a server installation in the article “An IT manager warns: Do your homework before installing an e-mail server.”

Mason explained how his lack of experience with the Deerfield MDaemon e-mail server came back to haunt him a week after its installation at a branch office of his company. He had simply copied the program from one server to another, but a bug in the process automatically filled the system’s hard drive with error messages.

Other members were inspired to share their experiences in IT hell, and some offered advice on how to avoid being sent there.

Been there, done that
Several members can feel Mason’s pain. They’ve been there themselves.

SkiBob found himself in a situation where another company had installed his company’s Microsoft Exchange Server, and after the only employee who had been working with the installers quit, he was left “holding the bag,” as he put it.

“My problem was that either they set up Exchange to keep all .log files, or it does it by default—and Exchange generates well over 5 megabytes of .log entries EVERY HOUR,” SkiBob wrote.

Eventually, the installers guided him to the right fix, but he was particularly disturbed that four different Exchange how-to books ignored the problem topic. Finally, he found it referenced in an O’Reilly and Associates book on Exchange administration.

A similar problem struck Keseymour unexpectedly. Keseymour’s professional experience is with Exchange, but he inherited a Novell GroupWise 4.1 server.

“Apparently, at some point, someone forgot to mention that undeliverable and ‘bad’ messages were set to be kept,” he wrote. “I found this out by watching the drive space depart my main file server.”

Keseymour was able to isolate the problem using “a very nice program” called Treesize Pro and found 35,000 messages taking up 600 MB of space.

No experience like bad experience
Mason’s problems with MDaemon came as no surprise to Guy Santo, vice president of operations for Ultra/LAN Systems for Systems-Integrators in Atlanta.

MDaemon has so many setup parameters and complex correlations that his clients have all had difficulties working with the program, Santo said. He blames the software base of the application.

“It requires a lot of knowledge and experience to set up completely.”

Santo now recommends turnkey, Linux-based appliances, and he said his clients are much happier. Some people might be surprised to learn that his company looked at more than a dozen of these solutions. He recommends small and medium-size companies look at eSoft and its Model 300 or Instagate products.
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A little help from his friends
Icre-r posted a note explaining that he thought MDaemon is an “excellent program” and pointed out that while it doesn’t have a printed manual, it has one in both .pdf and Microsoft Word formats.

“There was nothing wrong with the way he chose to transfer MDaemon over to the new server,” Icre-r wrote about Mason. “He just needed to be familiar with the options in MDaemon that would have prevented that problem.”

Omegaconsulting had a complaint about the cost of Microsoft’s products and licensing and is willing to give MDaemon a try.

“I’ll definitely read the .pdf or .doc ‘manual’ before I install it!” he said.

Jgriffiths, a network systems facilitator in Australia, wrote, “In most cases, I have spent more time fixing up the mess than doing it right the first time.” He added that this typically happens when a shortcut to save time and effort was used.

Finally, Vstrausberg offered some obvious, but pertinent advice.

“It has been my experience that if you get a message that you don’t have enough drive space, then that should be the first place you check because the probability is high that you really don’t have enough drive space.”
Is it simply a matter of getting what you pay for when it comes to buying a mail server? Are the cheap and good mail servers a royal pain to set up? Post a comment below or send us a note.