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Mercury Mail Transport System, Windows version - Features

The Win32 version of Mercury (or Mercury/32 as it is known) runs on Windows 95, 98, NT4, 2000, XP or Vista* workstations. Mercury has currently only had limited testing under Windows 7, but to date no obvious problems have been found other than those already present on Windows Vista*. It can provide mail services to a single computer or a local area network. It has special support for the Novell NetWare environment - it integrates with a NetWare LAN in exactly the same manner as the NLM version of Mercury (in actual fact, Mercury/32 is more NetWare-aware than its NLM-based counterpart!).

We think Mercury/32 is one of the richest, most powerful mail processing environments you can get at any price, and we believe that you will think so too after you've tried it. Below is a partial list of the features Mercury offers.

Protocols supported

  • SMTP (server, relay-based client and full end-to-end delivery client)
  • POP3 (server and distributing client)
  •  IMAP4rev1 (with multiple simultaneous access to the same mailbox)
  • PH (server, for directory lookups)
  • Finger (server, for directory lookups)
  • PopPass (server, for remote password changing)
  • HTTP (server, for web-based mailing list management)
  • SSL (Secure sockets layer) on SMTP, POP3 and IMAP servers

Core module features

  • Service mode   Mercury can be run as a Windows Service, or as a simple application. When running as a service, it can interact with the Windows desktop if you are using Windows XP and earlier.
  • Multiple domains  Support for multiple domains on one system. A single Mercury/32 server can service a practically unlimited number of different e-mail domains.
  • Aliases and addresses  Support for unlimited aliasing and alternative address forms (so, a user can have any address, not just his or her username@your.domain).
  • Autoresponders  fully-programmable automatic replies, including options allowing different replies to be sent automatically depending on the day of the week, the month, the time of day or during an arbitrary range of dates. Mercury's autoreply logic has extensive checks and balances to prevent mail loops and  mail storms, which are common in other systems
  • Forwarding  Full support for automatic forwarding of mail, including forwarding to multiple addresses.
  • Filtering  Comprehensive mail filtering allowing an almost unlimited number of tests and actions to be performed on a message. Filters can be applied globally, only to outgoing mail, or tied to specific addresses. We invented mail filtering back in 1990, and ours is still amongst the most comprehensive filtering engine you will find anywhere.
  • Comprehensive content control  set up exacting rule-based tests to reduce or eliminate unwanted "spam", or to monitor the content of messages passing through the server.
  • Bayesian spam filtering  A powerful Bayesian spam filter plugin is provided as a standard feature of the program. Bayesian spam filtering perfectly complements the program's general-purpose and content control filtering mechanisms, and combined with transaction filtering in the SMTP server can practically eliminate spam on your system.
  • Policies  Apply your own external tests to mail passing through the system. For example, using a policy you can add comprehensive virus scanning to your mail server at no cost by simply linking it to a personal virus scanning tool.
  • Mailing lists  Mercury's support for subscription-based mailing lists is so strong it deserves its own section (see below for more details).
  • Statistics  Mercury keeps detailed statistics of many aspects of system operation, and can mail these to any address at an interval you specify.
  • Templates  All notifications (such as delivery failure messages) can be customized using a simple text editor.
  • Multiple queues  Mercury can service queues on many servers: this is particularly useful if you are using Pegasus Mail, since it allows a single Mercury/32 system to service an almost unlimited number of Novell NetWare or Windows NT servers.
  • Autonomous mail server  Mercury has a built-in command-driven mail server that can be used to perform list management, alter user settings and more simply by sending it an e-mail message.
  • Easy user interface  Mercury has an attractive, easy-to-use interface that will be familiar to any Windows user - no need to fiddle around with obscure text files to do configuration (although you can also do that too, if you really want to).
  • Domain mailboxes  Mercury makes it easy to create a single mailbox that receives all mail addressed to a particular domain.
  • NetWare support  Mercury has special support for Novell NetWare local area networks, and can integrate with either NetWare NDS/eDirectory-based systems (such as NetWare 5 and 6), or older Bindery-based NetWare servers.

SMTP Server features (incoming mail)

  • Compliant  Full support for RFC821/2821 transmission format, including ESMTP
  • Support for Authenticated SMTP using LOGIN, PLAIN and CRAM-MD5 authenticators
  • Relaying Exceptional range of methods for handling relay prevention
  • Greylisting  Powerful greylisting module included as a standard feature
  • Transaction filtering  allows you to filter mail on almost any criterion as it is actually received, in realtime.
  • Size controls  You can choose to restrict the size of messages the server will accept, and can allow exceptions to those restrictions for authenticated users or users at specific IP addresses.
  • Realtime blacklisting  Use transaction filters to blacklist non-compliant, nuisance or zombie sites in realtime automatically.
  • Compliance testing  Simple checkbox interface allows you to enforce client compliance with a wide range of RFC2821 and message content conditions (example: you can reject any message with no subject line by checking a single control).
  • Killfiles allow mail to be refused from certain domains or addresses
  • Connection restrictions allow connections to be refused from certain addresses or address ranges.
  • RBLs  Support for "spam blacklist" services (RBLs). You can set up any number of blacklist query definitions and can tag (mark with a header), redirect or reject messages that are blocked by a service. Both address-based and domain-based blacklist services are supported.
  • Full session logging capability allows you to record every character that passes between the server and the connected client.
  • Listen on multiple ports - Mercury can listen on any port you choose and can be told to listen to two different ports simultaneously if you wish (handy for working behind firewalls or with proxy servers).
  • Supports ESMTP size restrictions for controlling the size of incoming mail

SMTP Client features (outgoing mail)

  • Choose between either relaying SMTP (where Mercury connects to another computer to send mail) or full end-to-end delivery. Relayed SMTP is especially useful behind firewalls, or when you have an intermittent Internet connection.
  • Full session logging, allows you to see every character that passes between the client and the server to which it connects.
  • Transcripts (MercuryE only) - simply by adding an X-Transcript-To header to your message, you can have Mercury send you back a detailed transcript of the delivery transaction that takes place with the recipient's server, providing excellent proof of delivery.
  • Threaded delivery - MercuryE can have up to 100 simultaneous mail deliveries occurring simultaneously.

POP3 Server features (remote new mail access)

  • Connection restrictions allow connections to be selectively permitted or refused based on addresses or address ranges.
  • Special profile options allow you to tailor the behaviour of the mailbox, including options to present only unread mail, options to make deletions final, preventing deletions from the mailbox and more.
  • Individual POP3 profiles allow customization of the server's behaviour for each mailbox.

Distributing POP3 Client features

  • Can be configured to download mail from an unlimited number of remote POP3 mailboxes and to process that mail into any number of local mailboxes (so, you can have four remote mailboxes all downloaded into one local user, or each remote mailbox being downloaded to separate users).
  • Supports "domain mailboxes" - can distribute mail properly to local users even if all mail for your domain ends up in a single mailbox. The POP3 client uses extensive heuristics to work out exactly to whom each message in a domain mailbox is actually addressed.
  • Extensive customization options allow you to tailor the behaviour of the client to suit your circumstances: for instance, you can specify non-standard headers in messages that contain recipient addresses, and you can specify a "default user" who should receive all mail that cannot be explicitly identified as local.

IMAP4rev1 Server features (remote mailbox access)

  • Practically maintenance-free - no specific per-user configuration is necessary: just turn the server on and your users can retrieve mail using any IMAP-compliant mail package.
  • Tested with many webmail packages that use IMAP as a back end, including IMP, Twig, SquirrelMail and others.
  • Allows multiple separate users to connect to the same mailbox simultaneously - especially handy for helpdesks, support lines and other situations where shared write access to folders is required.
  • Connection restrictions allow connections to be selectively permitted or refused based on addresses or address ranges

Subscriber-based Mailing List features

  • Simple e-mail based subscription and unsubscription
  • Web-based subscription management facilities
  • Allows both moderated (managed) and unmoderated mailing lists. For moderated lists, you can choose to allow only moderators to post to the list, or to make posting public, but to have moderators the only ones able to add or remove subscribers. A "primary moderator" can also be designated to receive rejected list postings automatically.
  • Extensive error-handling options, including full support for VERP (automated error management).
  • Member lists can be made available to subscribers or not, as required. Simple mail-based commands allow enumeration of list membership where it is permitted.
  • "Rolling archives" of all mail posted to lists can be created automatically.
  • You can control where errors resulting from list mail delivery should be sent
  • You can create "welcome" and "farewell" messages that are automatically sent to subscribers on creation and termination of their subscription respectively.
  • Confirmed subscription (double-opt-in): you can force users to send a special confirmation message before their subscription becomes activated.
  • Full support for automatic generation of mail digests, using the MIME digest format. Individual subscribers may choose whether or not to receive list mail in digest form. When digests are sent can be based on either digest size or elapsed time.
  • Subscription expiration - subscriptions can be configured to expire after a certain number of days.
  • Posting restrictions: lists can be configured to accept mail from anyone, from subscribers and moderators only, or from moderators only.
  • Size restrictions: lists can be configured not to distribute mail larger than a size you specify.
  • Password-controlled submission: lists can be configured to accept mail for distribution only if a specific password header is present in the message (many mail clients, such as Pegasus Mail, allow you to add custom headers to your messages). Moderators and subscribers can have separate and different sets of passwords..
  • Full support for RFC2369 List URL header fields for automating common subscription tasks for subscribers.
  • Replies can be forced to go to the list instead of the original sender or not, as required.
  • Automatic subject line modification: you can force certain text into the Subject line of messages distributed to lists, usually to assist with mail filtering by subscribers.
  • Encryption of mail distributed to lists is possible if your subscribers use Pegasus Mail.
  • Anonymous lists - you can create lists that automatically "anonymize" the mail they send - this is especially useful for "suggestion boxes" or for subjects involving sensitive content.
  • Rich subscriber settings: subscribers can be "active", "on vacation" (i.e, their subscription automatically turns on again after a set period) "inactive" (i.e, still belong to the list and able to post to it, but not receiving distributions) or "barred" (i.e, prohibited from subscribing in future).
  • Subscriber statistics - see at a glance when a subscriber joined the list, when he or she last posted, and how many postings he or she has made to date.
  • Easy GUI list management, including simple options for copying and importing lists.

Scheduling module features

  • Mercury includes an "overseer" module that controls connection to the Internet. If loaded, this module can control when and how often Internet connections should occur, including separately-settable peak and off-peak settings for each day of the week (so, you can have it connect less frequently during the weekend, for example). The scheduling module integrates with other protocol modules to ensure that they are active when they need to be, and is especially well-suited to environments where the Internet connection is intermittent, such as dialup, ADSL or ISDN systems.

... And much, much more. We haven't even touched on user interface features like consoles, activity monitors, speed search in lists, pause options for each module... There's an enormous amount in there, and the only way to grasp how comprehensive the system really is is to install it. We hope this list has whetted your appetite, though.

* Windows Vista:  In Windows Vista, Microsoft no longer supports the WinHelp help system used by Mercury, but they have failed to provide a functional alternative (HTMLHelp is too badly broken to use). We have developed a replacement help system of our own, which will be fitted to an upcoming version of Mercury: in the meantime, to use the Mercury help system under Vista, you will need to download WinHelp from the Microsoft web site (we are forbidden to make it available to you). Aside from the usual annoyances associated with Microsoft's ridiculous Vista UAC scheme, there are no other issues we know of when running Mercury under Windows Vista or (we assume) Windows 7.

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[ Page modified 21 July 2009 | Content David Harris | Design by Technology Solutions ]