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How to set up an Internal SMTP Service for Windows Server 2012 Essentials

Posted on by BoonTee

Windows Server 2012 Essentials does not come with Microsoft Exchange Server as its predecessor Small Business Server 2011 did. However, many small businesses still use a copier or multifunction device that has the ability to scan to email. Some units also allow a fax to email forwarding service. Unfortunately, many of these devices rely on some form of internal SMTP service to enable them to relay emails to recipients.

Fortunately, you can enable a SMTP service that is built into the core operating system for Windows Server 2012. Here how to do this.

Install the SMTP Service

  1. Launch the Server Manager. From the Search charm, type in Server Manager to find it.


  2. From the Dashboard, Add Roles and Features. The Add Roles and Features Wizard will begin. Click Next on the first screen.


  3. Select Role-based or feature-based installation.


  4. Select the Essentials Server (which should be highlighted by default).


  5. Click Next to bypass the Roles selections.


  6. Scroll down the list and tick the SMTP Server feature.


  7. A new window will pop up to inform you that some other services will also be installed. Click Add Features to confirm and continue. Click Next to continue past the features selection screen.


  8. Click Install to complete the Installation.


  9. Click Close when the installation has completed.


Configure the SMTP Service

  1. From the Search charm, type IIS. Hover your mouse over one of the selections, and run the Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 Manager.


  2. Click Yes to the UAC Prompt.


  3. Expand to SMTP Virtual Server #1, right click and select Properties.


  4. General Tab: Set the IP Address to the server’s IP address.


    Note: You can also enable logging is required.


  5. Access Tab: Set the IP for the internal devices in the connection button.


    Add the same IP to the Relay list.


  6. Delivery Tab: Set an external domain – you can use the free customised domain from Microsoft, and you can also optionally add a Smart host, if required. Tick the Attempt direct delivery box, if you want the server to attempt to deliver the email directly first before trying the Smart host.


  7. From the Search charm, type Firewall to locate and run the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security console.


  8. Add a new Inbound Rule. (Right Click on Inbound Rule, and select New Rule)


  9. Select Port.


  10. Type in 25 as the local port.


  11. Click Next (Allow the Connection).


  12. Uncheck Public. (Prevents external access to the server)


  13. Give the rule a name, and click Finish to create the rule.


  14. You should now see a new rule enabled in the firewall management console.


  15. Restart the SMTP Service and set the service for Automatic Start. Open up the Services Management Console. Double Click on the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol service. Stop and then Start the service. Set the Startup type to Automatic.


That’s it. The service is ready and waiting.

NOTE: You can also do this with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and also with Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 R2. With SBS2011 Essentials and Server 2008 R2, there is a slight difference in adding the SMTP Service role, but it is a fairly straightforward task.

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40 Responses to How to set up an Internal SMTP Service for Windows Server 2012 Essentials

  1. Anil

    Very helpful for me to configure smtp on window server.

  2. Ankit

    Thanks for sharing the great knowledge. I have some queries :

    1. How can i send a mail from SMTP in Virtual Image.
    2. I have given the IP as which u have mentioned .Is it correct ?
    3. In smart host i have given mail.mydomain.com . Is it correct ?

    • BoonTee

      You questions are somewhat vague.
      1. Any program capable of using SMTP to send mail can be used to send the email.
      2. The IP mentioned is a sample. You need to use the IP of the Internal Device that will be sending the email.
      3. That is an example. Use your ISP’s SMTP server for the smart host entry.

  3. Vignesh

    But how to send mails..? And also help me to enable POP 3 service.

    • BoonTee

      Your application will send the emails. In the application, you specify this server as the SMTP server.
      The POP3 service is another topic. That is used for receiving emails.

    • Russ

      Try here for a simple POP3 service. There is a free one that is great for testing and other simple situations and a paid one for more complex installations.


      • BoonTee

        There are quite a number of free POP3 programs available. This blog is primarily designed to enable those who no longer have an on-premises Exchange server to be able to relay emails from their internal devices (photocopiers, server management utility, etc) to their cloud-hosted email service.

  4. Russ

    You should note that the SMTP service is very old and deprecated as of Windows Server 2012.

    • BoonTee

      Yes, the SMTP service has been around for a very long time.
      No, it is not deprecated and it still works fine in Windows Server 2012.

  5. Ken

    I am lost at #6. Please give me an example of what I need to place in the FQDN field. Do I type in the servername.mylocaldomainname.local? Or do I type in after the @ on my email name@test.com – so do I type test.com in that field?

  6. hanumanth

    which application should i used for sending and receiving mails…..

    • BoonTee

      You can use any application. The point of the blog is to enable people to have a SMTP server on-premises, when you do not have a mail server to send mail. This is useful for devices like copiers, and network scanners, and for devices that send monitoring alerts and logs to be able to connect to a mail server inside your network.

  7. hanumanth

    thank u for replying…..
    if we configure exchange server 2013 we can send and receive mails…. i have enabled smtp ….
    i am beginner for this… i want learn more … plz help me… wat should i refer….
    plz give me idea….

    • BoonTee

      If you have Exchange Server 2013, you do not need to do any of this. I would suggest that you look for a Microsoft Partner in your area to work with you to configure your systems.

  8. Mia

    Hi, doing some research on how to setup the SMTP server came across with this board….I have being working on this for weeks now without any luck. It is mentioned above that “You can also do this with Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, and also with Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2008 R2. With SBS2011 Essentials and Server 2008 R2, there is a slight difference in adding the SMTP Service role, but it is a fairly straightforward task.”
    well will like to know how to can i set the SMTP in a Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard.
    I’m not an expert on it but very interested in finding out how i can accomplished this task…would like to see if anyone can help me with instructions on how to do this part will definitely appreciate it.

    • BoonTee

      It works the same way.

      In Windows Server 2008 R2, you need to install the SMTP Server Feature, which will add the Web Server (IIS) and Remote Server Administrator Tools roles. After that, open the Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0 Manager and follow the instructions as per the blog.

  9. Tom

    Probably a dumb question, but why do you need an inbound rule? You’re sending email, not receiving it, right?

    • BoonTee

      The point of the post is to be able to receive emails from an internal device, and then send it on to Office 365 or your other cloud email service. So, you need an inbound rule to receive the email from the internal device, and an external relay to send the email on.

      • Tom

        I see, thanks for explaining. So what if I wanted a program running on the server to be able to send emails? Would an outbound rule for port 25 do the trick?

  10. Tom

    Do you have any troubleshooting tips for when the program can’t send emails? I also tried Telnet but the emails are queued, not sent.

    • BoonTee

      Check the logs – SMTP log and firewall log. If you haven’t enabled them, you will have to do that first. Then you will have a better idea of what is going on.

  11. V.Kannan

    Thanks. Worked beautifully. This is for my UAT server where I dont need to send email but only to send to the UAT mailroot folder. I only made mistake in setting the server address in my program. Because the sample had server name as SMTP.Servername.com, I also thought should set like that. Realize that SMTP. is not a prefix but sample server name. Once I got this right it worked.

  12. Tom

    What is the function of the FQDN in step 6? SERVERNAME.subdomain.mydomain.local is filled in automatically and when I change it to subdomain.mydomain.com, the domain name is not valid. The firewall log doesn’t show any blocked traffic. The SMTP log shows timeout – 121. All in all not very helpful, I have no idea how to proceed.

    • BoonTee

      Most anti-spam features now will check your FQDN against the public DNS servers to make sure that the domain is valid. If it is not, your email will be rejected.
      If you want to use subdomain.mydomain.com, then you will need to make sure this entry is added to the domain zone file for mydomain.com.

      • Tom

        So, if I understand correctly, an invalid FQDN won’t prevent the message from being sent but from being received. Still I don’t understand why subdomain.mydomain.com is not valid. It’s an existing subdomain and when I try to add it as a forward lookup zone, I am told it already exists.

        Meanwhile my e-mails don’t get past the queued stage. It’s driving me insane.

        • BoonTee

          You may have a different problem. This will be difficult to diagnose without more information.
          Meanwhile, you can check your domain FQDN from some sites like hexillion.com and mxtoolbox.com.

  13. NickM

    Have followed instructions in blog (thanks) and am sending mails & receiving them to microsoft mail on the Win 2008 r2 server using the free visendo pop service. My question is, this only seems to work when the (virtual) server is connected and has access to the internet. Is there any way that the send / receive process can take place when the server is standalone and not networked in any way?


    • BoonTee

      I’m not sure I understand your question. If you want to use the SMTP mail service as described, the SMTP service has to be able to connect to an external mail server to relay the emails. However, if you want to set up your own internal test environment, then you will need to ensure that your DNS server is also located internally, and will forward the SMTP services to the correct place without connecting to the Internet.

  14. Suman Chakraborty

    I am developing a mailing application and for now I am using gmail server to send and receive mails simply by writing server name as smtp.gmail.com . Howerver now i want setup my own virtual smtp sever and host the application in my college lab using LAN. Can anyone help me what changes i have to make in order complete my task ?

    • BoonTee

      More information is required. It depends on what the application is, and how it is configured to send SMTP.

      • Suman Chakraborty

        It is a mailing app in asp.net. You give your gmail id and password and using gmail port no 587 I m sending mails to any id. Here i am using gmail server authentication and gmail smtp server to send mails, But i want to set up my own virtual smtp server which will fetch messeges from the database server and send it to the other end. I will host the app in my college lab where computers are LAN connected and will create clients to exchange mail between them. They first have to register into the app, create their ids and send mail using smtp server on the server machine. I have the idea but failing to execute. Help needed badly.

  15. BoonTee

    An SMTP server does not “fetch” messages. A SMTP server can only receive messages from a sender, and then it “sends” the message on.
    If you want a mail server that can “fecth” messages as well, you should then consider a third party mail server which has POP3 capabilities as well.

    • Suman Chakraborty

      Yes i am using pop3 to fetch messages from gmail smtp server. All i want is to set up my own virtual smtp server which will send and receive messages and pop3 will fetch those messages and show it to the client. I want this set up to be a local one as ids created will be identified inside our network only that is college LAN. How to do it.

  16. ines

    Bonjour , j’ai installer le service SMTP sous windows server 2012 mais lorsque j’ouvre IIS je ne peux pas démarrer SMTP un msg d’erreur s’affiche .

    • BoonTee

      Check the blog again to see that you have set up the SMTP service correctly. Also check to make sure you do not already have another SMTP service running on the server.
      What is the error message in the event log?

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