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What is SquirrelMail Hosting?

If you need an established, standards-based webmail application for yourself or your enterprise, check out Free and Open Source (FOSS) SquirrelMail. Where would we be without email? For all the attention being given to Facebook, IM, text messages, and Hipchat, email still reigns supreme for online personal and business communication.

Many people use a commercial email service like Gmail. There's even some people still out there with Hotmail or Aol accounts. But if you want to present a professional persona to the world, your business card shouldn't list your customer service email address as [email protected]. You need to run your own mail service, with email addresses at your own domain name.

This isn't really difficult. Almost every hosting company offers email service as part of your hosting plan, and you can usually set up email addresses from the control panel.

But then, once you've set up an email address, how do you read and send email? You need an email client.

How does Email work?

An email server is a software program that (often) runs on the same computer as your web server. It's job is to connect to the internet, receive any messages intended for it, and send any messages you ask it to send out to other people.

To simplify things, let's gloss over how messages get routed around the internet once they leave your mail server. The thing you need to worry about as a business owner or personal email user is how you deal with those messages once you have them.

A mail server isn't used for writing messages, or for reading them. It's job is to send and receive messages. (By analogy, you don't ask your post office to read your mail, do you?)

You have to fetch your messages and bring them into an app that lets you read them. That same app lets you write messages and then send them back to the mail server for sending out. The app that does all this for you is called a client.

Your mail server is like your local post office. The client is like your mailbox and postal carrier.

Webmail and mail clients

In the past, mail clients were always desktop programs. You may still use one: Microsoft Outlook is probably the most well-known mail client. Today, phones also usually have an embedded mail client.

The way these work is that the messages are fetched from the server (over the internet) and stored locally on your computer or device. This is very efficient, because you can read and write email even when you aren't connected, and lots of messages can be bundled together all at once for delivery.

The problem with a local mail client on your own computer or phone is that you have to use your own computer or phone to access your email. The price for efficiency is a potential lack of convenience.

Webmail is a mail client that is not local to your machine but sits on a web server (often, the same one as your mail server) and lets you interact with it over the internet. It's not quite as efficient as a local client, but you can access it from any computer with a web browser.

SquirrelMail Web Mail Client

SquirrelMail is a Free and Open Source webmail application written in PHP.

It uses HTML 4 and no Javascript, so it is supported by virtually every browser, even older ones.

It's licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), which means it can be used and distributed for free. SquirrelMail is scalable up to thousands of users with hundreds of simultaneous connections.

Squirrel Mail supports third-party plugins and extensions, and there are currently over 200 available, including support for and enhancements to features like spell check, spam filtering, user administration, calendaring, folders, address books, email signatures, and auto-responders.

Translated into more than 50 languages and usable anywhere via most Web browsers, SquirrelMail is widely accessible.

The only real downside to SquirrelMail is that the web interface is not well optimized for mobile devices. However, a single email account can be accessed by more than one mail client. So that shouldn't stop you from connecting your phone's native mail client to the mail server directly, and using SquirrelMail whenever you are sitting at a traditional desktop or laptop computer.

SquirrelMail Hosting

Many hosting providers offer SquirrelMail directly from the web hosting control panel.

SquirrelMail Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best way to describe SquirrelMail?

    This is a standards-based webmail application that provides services to both individuals and companies. As a free and open source webmail application, anybody with access can use it to manage email. It is used for both personal and business communication.

  • What is the benefit of SquirrelMail when compared to commercial email providers?

    The primary benefit is the ability to create your own email address, which provides a more professional feeling. When you run your own mail service, such as SquirrelMail, you can create as many email addresses at your domain as you desire. This is why so many companies use SquirrelMail, as every employee requires an email address.

  • Do all browsers support SquirrelMail?

    Thanks to its use of HTML 4, as well as the absence of Javascript, SquirrelMail is compatible with every browser, even those that are out of date.

  • How scalable is SquirrelMail?

    Corporations often worry about the scalability of a standards-based webmail application. This is never a concern with SquirrelMail, as it can be implemented by thousands of users.

  • Are there any third party plugins that add even more value to the SquirrelMail service?

    Yes. With more than 200 plugins to choose from, every user has the ability to personalize his or her experience. Some of the most common plugins and extensions include spell check, spam filtering, address books, calendars, and auto-responders. These are not required, but are often installed to make for a more personal email experience.

  • Are there any reasons why somebody may not want to use SquirrelMail?

    The primary downfall is the lack of a slick mobile interface. You can work around this by connecting your device’s native mail client directly to the mail server.

  • Do all hosting companies offer SquirrelMail?

    No. While most understand this is one of the most popular standards-based webmail applications, it doesn’t mean they all provide access to SquirrelMail. There are many hosting companies known for offering this, including: GreenGeeks, A2 Hosting, Site5, A Small Orange, HostGator, BigRock, and MyHosting.com.

  • What is the history of SquirrelMail?

    The webmail portion of SquirrelMail dates back to 1999, making it one of the first standards-based webmail applications to gain traction.

  • What kind of platforms support SquirrelMail?

    It is available on all platforms supporting PHP. Some of the platforms commonly used alongside SquirrelMail include OS X, FreeBSD, and Linux.

  • Is SquirrelMail available in more than one language?

    This is an area in which SquirrelMail often beats the competition, as it has been translated to more than 50 languages, including Chinese, French, Spanish, German, and Arabic. This allows users in non-English speaking countries to take advantage of the webmail application. Furthermore, it has helped push forward the rapid expansion of the application.

  • Can you provide examples of the types of organizations using SquirrelMail?

    There are millions of individual users and small companies relying on SquirrelMail. Some of the most notable installations by larger organizations are the Prime Minister's Office of the Republic of India and HEC Montréal. The Prime Minister's Office of the Republic of India selected SquirrelMail over the likes of Microsoft Outlook Express due to its higher level of security.

  • What are the many security aspects of SquirrelMail?

    SquirrelMail is known for being one of the most secure standards-based webmail applications, thanks to the use of transport layer security (TLS), secure sockets layer (SSL), and STARTTLS.

  • Is support available for SquirrelMail users?

    If this is offered through your hosting company, they may provide service in the event that you are having issues with your email, such as not receiving messages or the inability to send. SquirrelMail also provides support for end users and administrators through its website.

  • What are the finer details of SquirrelMail licensing?

    Thanks to its license under the GNU General Public License (GPL), there are no licensing fees for using this webmail application.

  • What are the benefits of using SquirrelMail, as opposed to a local email client?

    Some of the benefits include: attachments are never automatically opened or downloaded, reduction in spam, ability to process email from any device, no waiting for messages to download, ability to save space on your computer, and support available directly from your SquirrelMail account.

  • Can I use SquirrelMail if it is not offered by my hosting company?

    It is not as simple, but yes. You can download a stable version of SquirrelMail from the official website. Before doing so, check with your hosting company to ensure that your server supports this standards-based webmail application.

  • How simple is it to use SquirrelMail?

    SquirrelMail is every bit as simple as other popular email clients, such as Microsoft Outlook Express. Emails are displayed in a standard format, and users are offered the ability to set preferences such as: personal information, folder preferences, display preferences, message highlighting, and index order.

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