Here at J-insights, we have explored the different options available to setup An SMTP server and send unlimited emails. we have here, the postal smtp setup guide, postfix smtp setup guide, and other detailed mail transfer agent setup and configurations guide. Today we will see the PowerMTA Setup Guide, a special type of mail transfer agent for high-volume sending.
Port25 Solutions inc develops Powermta to serve and send high-volume emails. So, whilst other mail transfer agents are limited in the number of emails they can process say per hour, powermta can truly send hundreds of thousands of emails per hour. As a result of its high processing power, it is used by most reputable email marketing companies like getresponse, systeme.io, etc. So, if you are looking to send a high volume of emails, then Powermta is your best option. Let’s go through this PowerMTA Setup Guide without delay and see what is in it for us. Let’s go oo 🔥🔥🔥
What is PowerMTA
PowerMTA is a leading mail transfer agent (SMTP) or delivery system used to send emails over the Internet. There are other mail transfer agents like Postal (You can join the GitHub repo to view and maybe contribute to the project if you are a developer), postfix, Exim, etc. Here at j-insights, we have also explored postal SMTP setup, postfix smtp setup, etc. You can also check them out to see their relationship with powermta.
Components of a complete email marketing system
Just like we described in our different types of email marketing platforms, any Email marketing system is made up of two parts:
- The Delivery System or SMTP Part: This is the technical component of email marketing. It is part of a full-fledged email marketing system that helps to deliver emails to your subscribers.
- The Email Marketing Application (EMA): This is part of an email marketing system that helps you to manage and organize email subscribers. This is where you create your email lists, create and send campaigns, track open and click-through rates, perform A/B split tests, and other actions that will help increase your overall campaign performance. This is also where you can add or manage different delivery servers to send emails and a lot more.
To have a functional email marketing system, the above two components of an email marketing system must be connected together to make a whole. We also have different types of email marketing systems depending on manageability and how the systems are built. This gives rise to the different types of email marketers because as they are built differently, are advantages and disadvantages associated with them all. As an email marketer, you have to go with the ones that best fits your need. Ensure to check those guides out to understand the type of email marketer you’re as this will help you to know the kind of system to go with.
Is Powermta an Open-source Project?
No, PowerMTA is not an open-source project. PowerMTA (Power Mail Transfer Agent) is a commercial email delivery software developed by Port25 Solutions, Inc. It is a high-performance email server that provides advanced features for managing and delivering large volumes of email. PowerMTA is not available for free and requires a license to use.
Being an enterprise-grade software for sending high-volume and mission-critical messages, it’s somehow expensive as opposed to its open-source counterparts like Postal, Postfix, Exim, etc.
What makes PowerMTA unique is that it provides high performance, stability, and deliverability in line with perfect manageability.
And it’s built with a much smaller hardware footprint than is possible with other products like Postalhq, MAIB, postfix, Exim…etc.
How to Get & Download PowerMTA?
Powermta isn’t a small software that can be seen anywhere. It’s enterprise software used by big companies like getresponse, Mailchimp, systeme.io, etc. So. how do we get Powermta or better still how do we download it?
Well, as part of our commitment to copyright adherence at j-insight, we don’t share cracked software licenses of any sort not even powermta on our network and subsidiaries. So, we respect copyright as much as we’d love others to respect ours.
So from where do we get Powermta for this Powermta setup guide? or at least how do we get a trial version so we can test it before we buy?
To get a trial version of PowerMTA or buy a license, you can simply send a small message to the owner (Spark Post) using this contact form.
They are responsive, and they will respond within a day or two. then they may ask you some questions regarding your business just to make sure you are not a spammer, and you will get two months trial copy to learn and test everything in the software before you buy a paid license.
Quick Question: Do you really need PowerMTA?
Since PowerMTA serves commercial purposes for large volume sending/hr. it is used by enterprise companies which means it is not cheap. I’d advise, if you are not an email marketing company or at least a high volume sender with a few tens of millions email list and traffic, I don’t think you should go with Powermta as that will be expensively overwhelming for you. Aside from expansiveness, you don’t even need it since you will be sending just a few thousand emails which can easily be handled by free open-source projects like postal, postfix, Exim, etc . Better still you can go with alternative cheap solutions like using SMTP services (Amazon SES, Sendgrid, Mailgun, Mandrill, Spark Post SMTP Service…) and then integrate with an email marketing application like mailwizz.
Not let’s get into our PowerMTA Setup Guide in detail.
Powermta setup Guide: Let’s get started.
As I said earlier, there are two components of an email marketing system. The email marketing application (EMA) like mailwizz, moosend, or any EMA of your choice and the SMTP server or the delivery system eg powermta. We have also discussed here how to install the Mailwizz email marketing application with and without a control panel. You can go through and see how simple it is to install the Mailwizz email marketing application. But for this tutorial, let’s focus on setting up powermta.
So, what do we need for this powermta setup guide? What are the purchasing requirements? let’s see
Powermta purchasing requirements.
Just like any web application. We need two things:
Getting a domain name
Getting a domain name is more than simple. Just head on to Namecheap or any domain registrar of your choice, search for any domain of your choice, and check out using your preferred payment method and you will be up and running. For the sake of this tutorial, I will be using Namecheap. You are allowed to use any registrar of your choice say Godaddy.
Getting a VPS server
In this section of our tutorial, we are going to see the different VPS companies available for setting up our powermta. But, before we proceed we need to understand that we are not just going with any company. we need VPS companies that allow their port 25 protocol open on their server. What then is port 25 and what do we mean to have it open on our VPS before we can send emails?
Pls, note that port 25 being open is very integral to this powermta setup guide.
What is port 25 and how does it apply to email sending?
To make things really simple, ports are protocols you can use to connect services. For instance: To perform anything on a network you need ports available for that to work. For instance, to connect to a Linux operation system or SSH you need port 22 to be open. To connect to an RDP you need port 3389 to be open, to connect to a remote MySQL server you need port 3306 open. To connect to the secured version of the web, you are connecting via port 443, to connect to the insecure version of the web you connect through port 80.
Just like the above examples I gave, to send emails over the internet, we need port 25 to be open on our VPS server. This allows us to send unlimited high-volume outgoing emails from our server. The issue is that not all vps providers allow port 25 open on their servers. So, for us to send unlimited emails we need to go with providers with port 25 open. Before then, let’s see why port 25 is always closed by VPS companies.
Why port 25 is blocked by VPS providers
- Fraud and Spam: Today, spamming is becoming unbearable. Email clients like Gmail, yahoo, outlook, etc are scaringly concerned and really need to protect their customers. Email clients alone cannot do it alone. it is the job of all of us to make the internet a better place. This is the reason, internet service providers like vps companies have to lend their strength by shutting down ports. According to Forbes, 320 billion spam emails are sent every day, and 94% of malware is delivered via this medium. This is the major reason why most internet service providers ( ISPs ) are blocking their port 25. Even a few of them that open their port 25 for outgoing mail have very strict spam regulations, and won’t hesitate to block any machine or IP address that is triggering spam in their system. You might be wondering how ISPs detect spam. well, it is their job, for now, let’s focus on our Powermta setup guide.
- Government regulations and sanctions: There are strict laws by each jurisdictional government that places fine on any ISP that allow their servers to be used for spamming. To save themselves from these unwarranted fines, ISPs simply block their port 25.
- To protect their sending reputation: Inbox placement is a function of the sending reputation of the sending IP address. There are a lot of factors and metrics used to calculate sending reputation of a server.
Aside from rightly updating technical details like SPF records, dkim records, rdns or ptr records, and dmarc, you need to ensure you don’t send spam or unsolicited emails. Aside from internet service providers having a way of knowing the IP address in their network where spam emails are coming from, unsolicited email recipients reporting your emails as spam will kill the reputation of both your domain and server. Because of these reasons, VPS companies block their port 25 to save their servers from blacklists which makes their IPs accrue a low reputation. Low reputation will make emails sent from their servers land in the spam. They don’t want that.
Now, let’s see a few VPS companies with port 25 open.
List of VPS providers with port 25 open
Here is the list of VPS providers with port 25 open for outgoing mail:
Although, contabo, Vultr, and Digitalocean sometimes block port 25 on their servers. All you need to do is to contact support and ask them to unblock port 25 for you. They may ask you some questions to ensure you are not a spammer. Once they see you are a genuine sender they’ll unblock port 25 for you.
Whichever company you are going with, ensure to use the promo links above to save some cost. Then, create a VPS server with the following architecture:
- CentOS 6/7 x64 as your operating system
- You can start with 1 CPU/ 1 GB RAM (You can resize later).
VPS server configuration
Now Let’s prepare our server for PowerMTA installation.
First, check your hostname using the following commands:
If you don’t find a subdomain of the form ANYTING.YOURDOMAIN.COM, in my case which is mail.pushranker.com as shown in the picture below then you need to change the hostname using the command:
where the host is anything you want. so in my case, my sample domain for this tutorial is h-y.me, the command will look like this:
This can also be done on your VPS account. For instance; on Vultr let’s see how to do this configuration.
How to configure Hostname from your VPS Provider
Head on to Vultr. Choose cloud compute. select your CPU technology.
Choose your server location say Chicago and the operating system which in our own case with Centos 7
Scroll down and define your hostname as below:
If for any reason your wanna change a hostname to another hostname. check the image below:
Just view server details for the domain you wanna change the hostname. For Vultr, go to Products>> Settings>>Change Hostname. Input the new hostname and reinstall your server as shown in the image above.
The next configuration we have to do is domain mapping. Let’s see.
Domain mapping is the process of pointing your domain name to your IP address. This helps to access your server using your domain or hostname other than the weird IP address of your server.
To map your domain here, add an A record, go to the advanced DNS zone of your domain, and add an A Record. At the host field Add your subdomain, which in my own case is Mail. Then add your server IP address at the value section and save changes. See the picture below:
Now we need to upload the PowerMTA file to our server for installation. To do this, download a file transfer protocol known as Winscp.
Login to your server on WinSCP and upload the PowerMTA installation rpm file.
File uploaded? Great!
Run the following commands to install powermta;
rpm -ivh PowerMTA-4.5r1.rpm
*Be sure to run this command in the directory where you uploaded the rpm file.
Then Copy your license file to /etc/pmta/ and you are done! Very easy!
Configuration of PowerMTA
Now, let’s configure PowerMTA so that we can send emails through our server.
PowerMTA has a config file located in the /etc/pmta/ directory. just open it so we edit and configure it. To make things simple for you, you can just download the config file attached and replace instead of yours, and change the values that correspond to your server.
Download the Sample PowerMTA config file below:
After you download, upload and replace it with the one on your server, then open the file to edit.
You will find a place where you can change the IP address.
Put your server IP instead. and then replace the sample domain with yours in the file.
Now restart the PowerMTA service using the following command:
service pmta restart
We are Done!
Email marketing Application setup
There are a lot of email marketing applications you can integrate with your powermta server. One of the best we have talked about on this here is Mailwizz. You are not obliged to use Mailwizz, you can use any EMA of your choice. But since I am using Mailwizz in my system, I feel that it is the best choice when it comes to features compared to the price, which is only a one-time payment without any limits or recurring fees. Sounds great?
You can buy it from codecanyon here.
Mailwizz is built with PHP (A programming language)
We already have an in-depth guide on how to install mailwizz on a vps server and also on cyberpanel .
Now let’s see some
SPF(Sender Policy Framework) Record Configuration
SPF record is also a TXT record that is added to your Domain DNS Zone. This allows you to assign the mail servers that are allowed to send emails from your domain. So what do I mean by this?……
In a simple word……. Spf record helps to reject emails sent from other servers that are pretending to be You.
So, messages sent from a server that is not included in the SPF record will be identified as spam and sent to the spam folder or rejected completely.
For instance: you cannot expect to send an email from your own server and set your sending email as “email@example.com,” and you cannot use Facebook’s domain email to send an email from your own server. This simply shows you are a spammer.
Just like the Facebook example I gave above, you can authenticate your server SPF with your domain and prevent anyone from using your domain to send spammy messages. SPF is very crucial because it makes your domain trusted by email clients like Gmail, outlook, yahoo, etc.
v=spf1 a mx ip4:XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX -all
Replace the xxxx above with your server IP address and update the TXT record at the DNS management zone of your domain.
By doing this, it is only your server or m maybe other servers, or other servers or domains that you do this for will be able to send emails using your server.
DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) configuration:
The dmarc record is a Txt record just like SPF AND DKIM records. It employs the SPF and DKIM protocols to determine the trustworthiness of the email sent from your domain or server.
DMARC provides a layer for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block and sanction poor email practices like domain spoofing and phishing and social engineering.
It allows legitimate email senders to specify how they want email clients like Gmail to handle emails that were not authenticated using SPF or DKIM rules. Senders can set the Dmarc to send such emails to the spam or reject it or block such emails completely.
MX Record Configuration
MX record is another form of record added to the DNS zone of your domain. The MX record ensures your emails are delivered to your email addresses.
In a very simple concept, MX record functions to hello the world which mail servers accept incoming mail for your domain and where emails sent to your domain should be routed to. If your MX records are not correctly configured to the right location, you will not receive emails in your domain emails.
Our Server is now ready for sending emails but; See a sample mx record setup below. Just go to any domain registrar you are using and choose mx record and update your records accordingly as below:
Now your server is 100% ready. But wait, before you send your first email you need to warm up your server. let’s get into it.
SMTP server Warm Up
When you just set up a New SMTP Server, Just before You send out your first campaign, you have to do your Server IP Address warm-up.
Pls also note that SMTP server warm-up is also a crucial part of this powermta setup guide too. So it is a must-do if you care to have your emails hit the inbox of your blog subscribers.
What is IP warming?
When you bought a public VPS IP from Vps companies, it has zero reputation and nearly 100% possibility of any message sent out of it going to the spam folder. We have to send Emails slowly and increase over time so that, ISPs can trust us and allow emails from our new server to pass their spam filters. This concept of sending emails gradually and rapping up the volume (increasing volume) per day is known as IP warming. The below graph warms up and raps up the volume for 1k email subscribers.
To this end, I am confident that this Powermta setup guide has given us a clue on the necessary Powermta setup we need to get our email sending up and running. If you need anything or have any issues in setting up SMTP using powermta make sure to contact me via email or kindly open a question on the forum.