Horde, Roundcube or SquirrelMail?

Which cPanel Webmail application should you choose?

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cPanel contains 3 different webmail applications; Horde, SquirrelMail and Roundcube. These applications are all integrated within cPanel to allow quick and easy access to your email with zero configuration.

The best way to see the difference between Horde, Roundcube and SquirelMail is by reviewing feature comparison table below. For more in-depth commentary and screenshots please check the rest of the article.

Horde Vs Roundcube Vs SquirrelMail Summary

Horde Logo.
Roundcube Logo.
SquirrelMail Logo.
Application websiteThe Horde ProjectRoundcube Webmail ProjectThe SquirrelMail Project
Interface type
  • Email has a three-pane format with view pane.
  • Dashboard shows summary of email, calendar, filters, tasks and notes.
  • Mobile interface available.
  • Choice of Inbox formats, including Three-pane with email preview.
  • No Summary Dashboard
  • Two-pane list format
  • No Summary Dashboard
Composition features:
  • Attachments
  • HTML composition
  • Spell check (multiple languages)
  • Attach contact information
  • Send to contact lists
  • Attachments
  • HTML composition
  • No Spell Check
  • Send to contact groups
  • Attachments
  • Text-only composition
  • Read \ Delivery receipts
Organization features:
  • Folder manipulation
  • Mail filters
  • Message flags
  • Search mail
  • Threaded conversation view
  • Drag-and-drop organization
  • Folder manipulation
  • Message flags
  • Search mail
  • Threaded conversation view
  • Privacy Protection
  • Folder manipulation
  • Message flags
  • Message highlighting
  • Search mail
  • Threaded conversation view
Additional features:
  • Address book
  • Calendar
  • Task list
  • Event reminders
  • News feed
  • Weather widget
  • Web page widget
  • Web bookmarks
  • Notes
  • Address book with LDAP
  • Contact management
  • Sender Identities
  • System administrators can use plugins to add custom features, such as the calendar module.
  • Address book
Recommended for:

Users who need a full suite of features that includes mobile email access and advanced productivity tools.

Users who need a user-friendly web interface with some additional features available.

Large plugin collection available for system admins \ enterprise users.

Users who need a simple interface with which to read and reply to emails.

This table summary is an expanded \ more detailed version of cPanel’s table.

Horde In-depth Look

The Interface

  • The main dashboard by default shows Mail Statistics, Calendar, Email Filters, Tasks, Notes and Contact Search.

  • The dashboard is fully customizable by clicking on the green add content button. You can have up to 12 blocks laid out in a 3 x 4 pattern. Additional options include weather, tag cloud, newest unseen messages, webpage embed, calendar, bookmarks (including most used).

The Main Dashboard.
The Main Dashboard.
  • The Email Dashboard has a three-pane format with an email view pane in a style consistent with many other webmail services like Gmail or Outlook.

  • Overall, the Horde interface is smart, relatively modern, and customizable.

  • All the features are very easy to access, and the whole administrative area is very intuitive.

  • Further configuration options are available under the cog-icon -> preferences -> mail option in the toolbar. Here you can configure how messages are displayed, preferences for viewing the listing of messages in a mailbox and even folder navigation display preferences.

Email Dashboard.
Email Dashboard.

Mail Composition features

  • Writing an email in Horde is easy. To start go to Mail -> New message and a popup will appear with a simple interface. You can switch between HTML composition and Text.

  • When using HTML composition a WYSIWYG will appear making it easy to craft your message in HTML. You can add attachments (including contact information), save the sent message to your sent folder, set priority and even request a read receipt (under other options).

  • The spell checker supports 19 different languages, although 3 of those are for English varients.

Horde Email composition.
Horde Email composition.

Mail Organization features

There are a number of features that help to organize your webmail:

  • Folder manipulation - Essentially, all the features you would expect to manage your webmail folders. Empty, Mark all as seen, don’t check for mail as well as create new mailboxes etc.

  • Mail filters - Filter by whitelist \ blacklist as well as create new rules. You can filter by any of the email fields, and then create an action such as delete, deliver or copy as well as mark the message as seen, flagged, answered or deleted.

  • Message flags - Manually or automatically set flags to certain message.

  • Search mail - You can easily search through your email by searching through the entire message, body, from, recipient, subject fields as well as utilizing the advanced search that allows setting date, email size among a large number of customizable options.

  • Threaded conversation view - Easily follow conversations with the threaded view.

Horde Mail Filters.
Horde Mail Filters.

Additional features

The Horde Calendar

The Horde Calander utilizes a calendar application known as Kronolith.

Kronolith features repeating events, all-day events, tags, shared calendars, remote calendars, CalDAV support, iTip/iCalendar support, generation of free/busy information, and management of multiple users through Horde Authentication.

Kronolith also features an API that can be integrated with any enterprise backend.

Horde Calendar.
Horde Calendar.

The Horde Task List

The Horde Task list application, known as Nag, features to do items, things due later in the week, task list management. You can filter by incomplete tasks, future tasks and also view completed tasks. The application also allows for sub-tasks and even shared task lists.

Horde Task List.
Horde Task List.

Horde Notes

The Horde Note application is known as Mnemo. It allows you to keep text notes that are not suited as a to do item, event or contact.

Horde Note supports Tags for easy categorization, search functionality, and shared Notepads. Notes can be imported from CSV and vNote files, and exported to CSV files. You can also password protect notes.

Horde Notes.
Horde Notes.

Horde Address book

Turba is the name given to the Horde address book / contact management program. It provides a generic frontend to searching and managing LDAP, SQL, IMSP, and several other contact sources.

You can import \ export contacts, and even share address books between users.

Summary

Horde Webmail is a web mail client that has been designed for browser-based usage. It is fully enterprise ready and includes an API so you can integrate Horde into existing backend infrastructure. Horde also offer professional services, which they boast has helped with some major deployments varying between 100,000 and 5 million users.

If you do not intend to use Horde exclusively (i.e. only when out of the office) you can. Access is available via IMAP and POP3 so you can import emails from your business server.

If you intend to use Horde daily as your goto application, then the dashboard is a very powerful feature. It enables you to see all your information at a glance. You can add widgets to the dashboard, such as the current weather, rss feed or even embed a web page (such as your favorite news website).

Getting started is easy, as any email address created in cPanel is automatically configured for use in Horde. There is no need to configure your own mail client at all.

Roundcube In-depth Look

The Interface

  • Unlike Horde, Roundcube takes you directly to your email inbox when you log in. There is no dashboard providing a summary your emails, contacts, to do lists etc.

  • The Mailbox view is customizable via Settings -> Preferences -> Mailbox View. Here you can choose from a 3 panel configuration including a mail preview, widescreen 3 column view, or just a list of email (without preview).

  • The interface is very modern thanks to a default installed theme called “Larry” which was created by a user called FLINT. The original theme does look a little dated, so it is easy to see why they make the Larry theme default.

Roundcube Interface
Roundcube Interface

Mail Composition features

  • Writing an email in RoundCube is easy. From the main Inbox screen just click the “Compose” button in the main menu bar. You can then select from the “Editor type” dropdown whether to write your email in Plain test or HTML.

  • When using HTML composition a WYSIWYG will appear making it easy to craft your message in HTML. You can add attachments, request return receipts, delivery status notifications and choose where to save the email.

  • On the composition screen your contacts will appear in the left sidebar making it easy to select existing contacts.

  • RoundCube says that they have a spellchecker, however, despite being shown on the screenshot, is not present in the default cPanel install.

Roundcube Email Composition
Roundcube Email Composition

Mail Organization features

There are a number of features that help to organize your webmail:

  • Drag-and-drop message management - Group and order messages easily by dragging and dropping to your desired folder.

  • Folder manipulation - Essentially, all the features you would expect to manage your webmail folders. Empty, Mark all as seen, don’t check for mail as well as create new mailboxes etc.

  • Message flags - Flag messages so you can easily find it again or follow up at a later date.

  • Search mail - You can easily search through your email by searching through the entire message, body, from, to, Bcc, Body, subject fields, date, current folder, all folders and subfolders.

  • Threaded conversation view - Enables you to easily follow a chain of emails.

  • Privacy Protection - Automatic image blocking to protect privacy.

  • Spam filters - While Roundcube advertise spam filters as a function on their website, no such functionality exists on the default installation. Instead, you can should use the cPanel spam filters, BoxTrapper or SpamAssassin.

Privacy protection.
Privacy protection.

Additional features

Address book with Groups and LDAP:

Fully featured address book with group functionality and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) connectors allowing anyone to locate contact information within a network (whether on the public Internet or on a corporate intranet).

Addressbook with LDAP.
Addressbook with LDAP.

Contact management:

Powerful and extensible contact management features, allowing the recording of emails, addresses, job information, personal information and more. Simply add the fields you require to flesh out as much or as little detail as you want.

Contact Management.
Contact Management.

Sender Identities:

Utilize sender identities for differentiating between business email and personal email names, signatures and sign-offs.

Sender Identities.
Sender Identities.

Plugins:

System admins can easily add functionality to RoundCube by installing plugins, such as a Calendar. Unfortunately, for web hosting clients this would need to be undertaken by your web hosting provider.

RoundCube Calendar.
RoundCube Calendar.

Summary

If you are familiar with desktop clients such as Outlook, or Gmail, then you will feel right at home with RoundCube thanks to the third-party interface skin called “Larry”.

RoundCube’s email functionality is great, featuring an address book, sophisticated searching, and all the usual folder and email management features you would expect.

On a default install, we are a little concerned that some functionality is not present. For instance, there is no spell checker or ability to install plugins such as calendar (your web host will have to install these, but you can search all the plugins here).

For enterprise usage, there is a Plug-in API for flexible extensions, a large array of plugins to choose from and built-in caching for fast mailbox access & to reduce server loads. RoundCube really comes into its own when managed by your own server admin who can install the third-party plugins.

If you need a full set of features out of the box, then you may want to consider Horde. However, if all you need is email and contact management, then RoundCube would be a smart choice.

SquirrelMail In-depth Look

The Interface

  • SquirrelMail uses a fairly old two-pane list format so you cannot preview the actual email message unless you click on it.
  • There is no dashboard summary. You immediately view the list of messages when you log in.
SquirrelMail Two Column Message List.
SquirrelMail Two Column Message List.

Mail Composition features

  • Attachments - Easily attach files to your emails. Our default install allowed files up to 50MB.
  • Text-only composition - Only text emails can be sent, so there is no WYSIWYG or Word like toolbar to help you compose your messages.
  • Read \ Delivery receipts - You can choose to receive a read receipt or be notified of successful delivery.
  • Signatures - Easily add your signature to your email.
  • Priority Flag - Flag your email by priority - Low, Normal or High.

In the screenshot you will also see spell checking and auto-translate functionality. These are not installed by default, and require your system admin or web host to install the requisite plugins.

SquirrelMail Compose Email.
SquirrelMail Compose Email. © Screenshot.

Organization features

  • Folder manipulation - Easily create folders to sort your emails.
  • Message flags - Flag important messages for followup.
  • Message highlighting - Based upon given criteria, incoming messages can have different background colors in the message list in order to easily distinguish important or select messages based on your own rules.
  • Search mail - You can easily search through your email by searching through the entire message, body, from, to, Bcc, Body and subject field. You can choose to search in specific folders.
  • Threaded conversation view - Choose between threaded view to allow you easily to view replies to your emails, or unthreaded view to sort strictly by date.
SquirrelMail Folder Management.
SquirrelMail Folder Management.

Additional features

  • Address book - SquirrelMail comes with a simple addressbook allowing you to store a persons Nickname, Email, First Name and Last Name. There is also a field for additional info. You cannot add additional fields.
SquirrelMail Address book.
SquirrelMail Address book.

SquirrelMail is a very simple webmail client that is designed to be compatible across all browsers.

If you like how the web looked back in 1995, then the archaic design will be right up your street. Despite that, there is an air of simplicity about this webmail client that may well suit some people. It certainly grows on you, so certainly worth giving it a chance.

Looking at the screenshots on the Squirrelmail website, it appears to advertise features such as message translation and calendar functionality. On our default install no such features existed, so you would require your system admin or web hosting provider to install these plugins for you. A relatively large selection of plugins are available, extending the addressbook, changing the message view, anti-spam features and more.

Horde Webmail v SquirrelMail webmail v Roundcube Webmail on Google Trends.
Horde Webmail v SquirrelMail webmail v Roundcube Webmail on Google Trends. © Google.

Which Webmail should you choose?

Summary:

  • Horde webmail - This is great for users who require a full suite of features including mobile email access and advanced productivity tools. The interface looks modern, and is very easy to use.

  • Roundcube webmail - While more limited in features, this appears to be the most popular webmail application. The interface looks modern, and it is also very easy to use. The software is actively being developed with new features and security updates. For enterprise users, there is API integration and a full selection of plugins to extend its functionality.

  • SquirrelMail webmail - While SquirrelMail looks very dated and is limited on functionality, it is incredibly easy and quick to use. If all you need is a quick way to check your emails while out the office then this is worth considering. We are somewhat concerned about the lack of updates shown on their website with the latest post being from 2014. We have every confidence in cPanel though, and doubt they would allow a webmail program to be one of the defaults in cPanel if it was not secure.

In summary, the choice between SquirrelMail, Roundcube and Horde will be very dependant on the features you require, and whether you are able to install plugins yourself to extend their functionality. We suggest trying them out to see which you prefer.

Our personal preference is Roundcube for simplicity, although we do like Horde as well.

That being said, email services like Microsoft Outlook or Google’s Gmail might also be worth considering.

Jonathan Griffin. Editor @ The Webmaster

About the author

Editor at The Webmaster.

Jonathan Griffin has been the Lead writer at The Webmaster for the last 5 years. Having provided technical SEO, WordPresss development, and hosting services for clients, his passion remains to help small businesses and bloggers develop their online presence.

In his spare time, he loves to push his technical knowledge further, and regularly undertakes professional courses on subjects ranging from python development, digital marketing, and Google Analytics.

Find out more about Jonathan Griffin on our About Page.