Major changing happened with Yahoo! mail since October 2013. A lot was said about it, many people complained. So I decided not stay away and express my feelings about it.
I’m using Yahoo! mail since 1997. It’s quite a lot, half of my life. Yahoo is not the only free e-mail service. There are others there. Since we all know what means “free” nowadays, thanks to Edward Snowden, e-mail is kind of thing that’s quite hard to change or more of that to quit it. I’m not sure that back in 1997 Yahoo was designed to spy on people. But we got what we got, Yahoo is number ONE by the amount of passed private information by request.
But now I’m talking not about security. I’m about the recent changes. They made decision that entire population nowadays uses touchscreen. Well I don’t, and millions of other people don’t! You will tell, if you don’t like it, go and shoot yourself. And this is correct. I do not pay for the service, so I cannot demand. All I can do is to leave.
The question is, what next. Live mail, Gmail, Mail.com or rising start of e-mail service Zoho. This is 100% same story and hardly can be treated as alternative solution even if you pay for this. If the owner of the service will decide for some reasons that everybody uses touchscreen devices he will definitely change the interface, your 20$ membership will change nothing. And this is pure rats race to run from one e-mail service provider to another.
So what I have learned. Free e-mail by it’s nature is not reliable and not secure solution. It’s functionality can be changed without your agreement, you do not control what data is passed to the 3rd parties, there is almost no difference if you pay or not to provider. The only way out is you private e-mail service you own.
If you read until here, that means you really fed up with current situation and you really need to find way out. And first of all private e-mail will definitely not be free, you have to pay for it, and you have to built it and you have to understand how it works. On the top of this, you have to take care about it constantly. The better you tune it the less time it will be consuming, but it is all about you, and if something will go wrong it will be your fault and you can blame only yourself.
In general you will need
- Domain name. It can be obtained from any registrar around the world. I advise you not to choose international domain name, but be sure that the company from which you will buy domain is ICANN-Accredited Registrars. Anyway ICANN is US company which ruled by US law, but in this combination national domain is protected both by ICANN and by the law of the country where you got citizenship. Take you time read this again and think. You got it !?
- DNS provider. The best solution is to have at least two servers, where one server is in your country where you got citizenship, and another is somewhere around the world, the further from the first one is the better. If you able to build own DNS this is great. If you cannot, use either registrar provided DNS or pay to DNS hosting providers. Be sure that their name servers are distributed around the world and their primary server is your country.
- At least two servers, where e-mail server software will be installed. Here you also should follow the same combination where one server is in your country where you got citizenship, and another is somewhere around the world, the further from the first one is the better.
- And the last but very important step is to select e-mail server software.
Now in details.
For instance you live in Germany and you are German citizen. Best place to start is http://www.ripe.net/ to understand which registrar to choose. Once you finished you buy something like mydomain.de domain name from German registrar , pay something like 100 EUR in advance for the next 5 years and you finish with first important step. Be sure that you have ability of DNS management and it would be nice that it’s for free. If there is an option to hide Whois information, use it especially if it is for free. If you not, ask how much to pay for it in term of long contract, it should be cheaper. Avoid registrar’s who cannot hide Whois and it is in their policy not to do so.
As I mentioned before, the best way is to have own DNS servers (at least two), but for the start it’s alright to use registrar’s DNS management system, and the many reason it will be definitely easy to use. Avoid registrar’s with “manual” DNS system where the changes happens only upon request but not via some kind of “control panel”.
It is quite controversial question: what is number of servers to have (to rent, to colocate, to hire) ? and how powerful it should be. All depends on your needs. But here I can only advise what is needed for small private e-mail with several boxes. And here good news. You don’t need proper colocation or dedicated server. Simple VPS server will be enough. As for quantity 2 servers will be enough. One more powerful and second for fail-over purpose. Main server for primary MX record, fail-over server for secondary. So let’s say for primary server for 100$ per year VPS located in your country with enough RAM for your software is alright. Make sure it’s good and respectable provider, cause it will be your front end access to your e-mail, so latency is matter. The backup server can be really cheap, the main idea to rent it somewhere far away, for instance if your main server in Germany it would be nice to rent the backup server somewhere in Vancouver (Canada) or Sidney (Australia). I hope you got the point.
Now the software. It is hard to advise something. But if you wish something real secure and don’t wish to pay on the top of constant renting of domain and servers this should be NOT proprietary software. Keep in mind that nowadays web-mail standard is must. So if you are moving from Gmail or Yahoo!, you will never adopt to old way offline mail access from single and only device, like to have mail access only from home desktop PC. That means that your software should support web-access e-mail service. Another thing to pay attention is the way you will be organizing failover. You will definitely put 2 MX records with various priorities, but this will not make you mail automatically deliver to you in case one server is down. You will simply spread it over 2 servers which make your experience almost nonoperational. So here I advise to use software which support Extended version of remote message queue starting command
TURN, or ETRN for short. This will allow you to collect messages from secondary server is the primary was down. If both operates normally you will be receiving messages to your primary server. You can look for number of comparisons in Wikipedia about mail servers, but remember that open-source is more secure solution in terms to be protected from government.
It is hard step to move from managed e-mail server to your own private solution. Someone can argues that this is time and money wasting idea to have private e-mail server with own domain name, but the question is straight and simple, either somebody else will organize your e-mails for you, or you will do it, hence to that, either you organize your own life, or somebody else will do it for you.