The questions about why Hillary Clinton used a home email server system instead of her government account while she was Secretary of State have multiplied. But here’s a different kind of question: How easy is it to build an at-home email server?
Meet Lee Hutchinson, Senior Reviews Editor for Ars Technica, who did just that.
He says the question of even attempting to create a server is a complicated one. “Stop and reassess if you want to really go down this road because it’s not easy,” he says. Disheartening as that sounds, he’s right.
For one, it’s a long process. Hutchinson says he researched for months to set up his own server. Then there’s the logistics. First you need a computer if you want to host it on your house.
“Not the best option,” says Hutchinson. “It’s so easy for people ‘s home computers to get co-opted into malware and turned into spam spewing.” In fact, because of this problem, most big companies try to prevent users from doing just that.
“Generally, it’s a terms of service violation, and they try to make it as technically difficult as possible,” says Hutchinson.
Most of all, the process takes a lot of time, not just to set it up, but also to maintain it. “If gmail goes down at 3 AM, it’s not your problem, says Hutchinson. But if it’s your email server that goes down at 3 AM? Then it is your problem, especially if you’re working on something important and or you’re on a deadline.
But if difficulty is no barrier, Hutchinson says the main advantage to setting up a private email server would be “to skirt discoverability requirements that would be placed on actual government emails sent through actual government systems.”
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.