Email is the most popular mode of communication, especially in the professional world. While various email hosting service providers exist, many businesses and privacy aware individuals seek an alternative, such as cloud-hosted or self-hosted servers for email.
Private email servers aren’t just for prominent politicians. If you want to remove your inbox from the clutches of Microsoft, Apple, or Google, and take control of managing and storing your messages, you can establish your own.
When you use services like Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox, Slack, or any other site that stores your data, they will hand your private information to governments when compelled to do so and in some cases, merely when asked. Even with legal protection, email remains all too easy for governments and other big players to quietly obtain. Many companies, like Facebook, have shared personal information even more widely, with private entities. When your personal data is stored on a company’s servers, (like the email in your Gmail account), there are no technical barriers to the host company sharing it with who it sees fit.
According to its transparency report, Google provided private information to government agencies around the world more than 80,000 times in 2017, often turning over data from multiple Google accounts at once And that doesn’t include over 100,000 Google accounts from which the company gave data in response to secret orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a US. national security tribunal whose meetings and decisions are kept secret from the public.
Facebook gave data from over 100,000 accounts in response to secret national security orders — in one year.
The situation is no doubt much worse in other countries, including Russia or China: All internet companies are required to retain data they collect about their users and to hand it to the local spy agency, if asked.
If you want an email account that’s actually private, one solution is to run your own email server. This way, if governments want to secretly ask your email provider for a copy of your inbox, they’ll have to ask you.
What is a private email server?
A private email server doesn’t sit in the server farms of Google,Apple or Microsoft. Instead, it lives inside your own house or cloud server, and you set up your own disk drive to hold incoming and outgoing messages, having full control on how your emails are accessed, managed and stored. The advantage, as the name suggests, is privacy—no one else has the opportunity to look at your messages or advertise alongside them. In an added bonus, your email will keep working even when Gmail, Outlook, or iCloud happens to be down.
For small and mid-sized businesses that want to cut costs, administrating mails may seem expensive. Similarly, running their mail servers seems difficult, since they probably don’t have the in-house tech personnel or tools to properly configure and run one, while managing the threats.
This is why many small and mid-sized businesses outsource to external providers. However, this comes with hidden risks like loss of control over your mail security, privacy intrusion and confidentiality risks, delivery problems from sharing a server, and more.
If you choose to use an open-source email server, you can create any number of aliases you want. Also, you can send unlimited emails from these servers. All this without any extra costs.
What Is Cloud-Hosting?
Cloud-hosted email servers can be hosted in a server from a cloud provider. You can always use it by integrating with third-party email accounts.
Maybe you have a website, which needs to send emails to users, or perhaps you’re a privacy lover in search of a nice alternative to popular web-mail providers like Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo. You can have your own Cloud-hosted email server, thus escape the routine scanning of emails these providers perform on millions of users, and enjoy a safe and private environment for your emails.
Why Run Your Own Cloud Mail Server?
There are many reasons why you should setup your own cloud mail server:
Sure, the employees at your email provider (probably) aren’t rifling through your messages on a daily basis. But the company might be scanning your email in order to serve you ads or inform apps like Google Assistant, which uses that information to tell you things like the date of your next hotel booking.
When you setup your own cloud mail server, you know that you are the only mailbox on that server sending and receiving mail. This means that you can be confident that the privacy of the server is optimal.
On the less likely side, your account could potentially fall prey to both illegal and legitimate prying. A rogue email-provider employee or determined hacker could expose your inbox. Law enforcement or government agencies could compel your email provider to turn over your account. And if you get your address from your workplace, that means your employers could be reading everything you send and receive.
A private server isn’t vulnerable to your employer or email provider. This setup also gives you full control over your email’s management and presentation. So you can choose everything from the software that displays the messages on screen to the aggressiveness of the spam filter. For example, if you don’t want to allow attachments over 1MB, then don’t—that type of decision is completely up to you.
Managing your own cloud mail server means that you can maintain the highest level of security. When other mail users are on the same server, you never know what security policies may be compromised.
When you create your own cloud mail server, you never have to worry about other users sending abusive mail on the server. This ensures reliability and up-time can be easily maintained. In an added bonus, your email will keep working even when Gmail, Outlook, or iCloud happens to be down.
What Is Self-Hosting?
Self-hosted email servers can be hosted in-house, in your local network on your physical server. If you want, you can always use it by integrating with third-party email accounts. However, its primary function is to let you create your very own email server.
Such email clients are accessible through the internet or the local network once they are integrated with third-party email services.
Moreover, you can enjoy 100% control over your mailboxes and their settings. It gives you the option to set policies and customize settings that suit your organizational requirements.
If you value privacy and prioritize accessibility, a self-hosted email server is the best bet for you.
Why Run Your Own Self-Hosted Mail Server?
When you have a self-hosted mail server, all the email communication will get perfect privacy. There is no more being a victim of third-party snooping and sharing of your personal information with the advertisers.