Some people believe privacy is dead in the age of social media, hacking, and big data. That doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to secure some privacy for yourself. The Helm, a personal email server system, is one way to get started back on the path.
A turnkey solution for local email hosting, the system gets you everything you need to host your email, calendar, and contacts in your own home. Whether you want to protect confidential conversations you hold over email, keep sensitive data away from prying eyes, or just don’t want the risk of a mass hack dump exposing your private information, this thing offers one of the best ways to ensure that you get those results. Heck, this setup allows you to put your data offline completely by simply disconnecting the device from your home network.
The Helm consists of a small tent-shaped computer that you can keep on a shelf, a desk, or a side table, with all the necessary hardware and software required to provide private hosting preloaded inside the rig. To use, simply connect it to your network, download the companion app to your phone, and configure the device. You know, add a domain, enter passwords, set recovery keys, manage addresses, and all the usual grunt work. Once properly set up, you can use it much like any email provider, complete with the ability to migrate data from your old email addresses, so you can nuke those accounts and banish their public existence permanently.
It supports all the standard protocols, so all users on your servers can use their preferred email clients, although, at the moment, they don’t have their own webmail, so you can’t just use a browser like your currently do with Gmail and its ilk. They also put industry-standard TLS encryption, in case you’re so paranoid that you suspect someone at home wants to hijack your private messages. It comes with 256-bit encryption, too, both for the whole disk and any offsite backups made for the device.
The Helm comes with 120GB of storage, which should be enough to hold email data for an entire family for many years, with two USB slots for hooking up additional storage when the need for it comes up. Processing muscle is provided by a quad-core 1.6GHz ARM Cortex-A72 processor and 2GB of RAM, so it should handle most any processing that an email server will require, while a built-in backup battery ensures any transactions can finish running in the event you experience a power outage at home.
It’s equipped with a new security architecture that’s proximity-based, which you can turn on if you want to restrict access to the server only to users that can connect to it over Bluetooth. You know, so you can protect it completely from outside intrusion, in case you frequently access your email while you’re at home anyway. According to the outfit, it will be continually updated with new features, too, including a VPN service, file sharing, and more.
The Helm is priced at $499, with subscription to the service priced at $99 per year (free for the first year). A subscription gets you continuous updates, offsite backup storage, domain registration, and a few other extras.