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Host Your Own Email Jump To: Host Your Own Video Conferences Hosting your own email is a power flex, a line drawn in the sand, and a true victory that we small businesses can claim over Big Tech. Think David vs. Goliath. Spoiler alert: David won.

Feeling entrepreneurial? Then this is a project you'll enjoy. And if you need a sherpa to help you scale that last peak — or to guide you all the way from base camp — call a human at Human Interface.

Not convinced yet? Let's get into the decision-making process.

Top Reasons to Host Your Own Email
  • Nobody cares as much about your communications as you do
  • There's no such thing as "the cloud," only someone else's hard drive
  • Big Tech views you as a banana that needs to be peeled
  • No monthly payments going to Big Tech for email hosting (starve the beast)
  • It's not as hard as "they" would have you believe
  • Self-reliance is satisfying and fun
  • No one will sell your entire email history to the highest bidder
  • No ads and propaganda inserted into your inbox
Gorilla contemplating a banana

Top Reasons NOT to Host Your Own Email
  • You would like to, but would need a partner to help run the technical side of things* (See "Ways We Can Help" below)
  • You legitimately can't afford the cost of a computer and an internet domain name
  • Computers scare you, and you plan to use nothing but your phone
  • You're irresponsible and can't be trusted
  • Nothing you or your colleagues write is of any value
  • You enjoy the experience of knowing that Big Tech is
    ... watching your every move
    ... reporting it to the appropriate authorities
    ... selling your data to the highest bidder
Lego man technician contemplating a giant circuit board

Cartoon of business people shaking hands and getting ideas - lightbulbs and rockets going off over their heads
Ready to Make the Move to Self-Hosting?
If you've read the lists above, and have become motivated to take back your power in the email arena, congratulations! Your skillset is about to be upgraded, and at the same time you'll be protecting your company's communication ... arguably your most valuable resource!

  • an internet domain name
  • a static IP address
  • a dedicated computer that is always on
  • a free, open-source operating system and email server software

Three Steps to Freedom
1Step One — Acquire your internet domain name
There are various registrars out there. We have used and recommend ...

Note: When registering, make sure you don't buy any extra website or email hosting. They will try to upsell many services while you're checking out, just say no.
King in a frame that says Behold My Domain

Forklift delivering your computer ... and your freedom
2Step Two — Acquire the hardware
You get to choose between a pre-built computer, a "roll-your-own" computer (you build it), or an appliance-like device called a NAS (network-attached storage).
  • Pre-Built Computer: You may want to look for one that has hardware RAID. For those who don't know, RAID is a method of duplicating your data so that if one hard drive fails, the other drive(s) continues. The data is rebuilt once you replace the bad drive.
  • Roll-Your-Own Computer: Here you have ultimate flexibility. You can do software RAID or hardware RAID, and although this is not recommended you could even go commando with no RAID at all.
  • NAS: One of the most popular mainstream NAS providers is Synology, running the Mail Plus server. Think of it as an all-in-one solution, and it does a better job of holding your hand.

3Step Three — Acquire Email Server Software
Note: Prices and options are as of May 2022.

Synology NAS units use Mail Plus, which comes with five email accounts. If you need more than five, there is a one-time purchase of additional user licenses for $50 each.

For either of the computer methods, we've used two different software setups successfully, ISPConfig and iRedMail. Both are free to use, and you can create as many email accounts as you want without charge! Our current favorite is ISPConfig. ISPConfig has the ability to host your website and DNS in addition to email. We've also used iRedMail. iRedMail has a pro version of their Web Panel which is a subscription service (might be pricey if you're on a budget). Check out all your options, and determine which one suits your needs best.
Lady choosing between three suitors, eeny, meeny, miney, ...

Stern little boy in goggles and pilot hat salutes
Ways We Can Help
Our help ranges from the little nudges on this page to get you started ...
to as little or as much guidance as you need.

If you're in our local area of Southern California, we can create a custom build just for you from scratch. For other locations, we can recommend hardware and walk you through the entire install.

Either way, we're available to support you — remotely or in-person — every step of the way.
Steve and Julie John signature

Host Your Own Video Conferences Guy spying with binoculars and I SPY written on them
Big Tech's video conferencing exposes you to more than just that piece of spinach in your teeth from lunch.

Pssst! You may have heard that the commonly used video conferencing apps are not completely safe (do a Brave Search on "Zoom Bombing").

But it's worse than you think. The Big Tech companies hosting your virtual calls are not altruists. They've got ulterior motives, such as selling what you and your colleagues say on these calls. Hey, why not? They legally own it, after all.
Man with spinach in his two front teeth and a big smile

Rich guy on laptop in a penthouse with parrot and Krug champagne
SOLD! to the Highest Bidder
Virtual calls you don't host are owned by someone else. Owned (just let that sink in for a moment). Owning your conference calls gives them legal ownership of anything you and your colleagues discuss.

This data isn't worthless, even if all you guys discussed is what you're doing this weekend or the cute things your cats did. Data mining companies buy vast swathes of seemingly meaningless stats and then let AI's comb through them for ... anything interesting. And this data gets repackaged and resold, ad infinitum. And saved forever.
Safeguard Your Secret Sauce
Even worse, your company's video conferences may contain trade secrets, private plans, vulnerabilities — things you do not wish to disclose to others. If your host is not encrypting the entire conference, end-to-end, it's hackable.

So what's a privacy-minded company to do?
You need a solution that provides security while still being affordable and easy to use, for you and your team. You know, all those things you thought you were getting from the other guys when instead you were being violated. TANSTAAFL, or "There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch," was a nine-letter acronym famously coined by author Robert Heinlein. Wise old Uncle Robert wouldn't be shocked that the free meeting software that has been literally in your face, inescapable, pushed out everywhere in a marketing blitz ... came with some strings attached.
Condiments on a restaurant table

Meetings On Your Own Terms
Lion meets lionesses on the savannah
Jitsi logo
This is one of those sparkling opportunities when the free answer is also the most secure one. Jitsi Meet is a totally free software solution for video conferences. It works just like the other guys. You host a meeting, you send the link to your trusted circle, and you have access to all the same tools and gizmos. The difference is that with Jitsi, Big Brother is not invited.

We are not paid in any way by Jitsi to promote them, we just think they provide a good solution. If we hear of products with similar profiles, we'll shout about them as well!
Winner of a motorcycle race celebrates with checkered flags
Here's what we like about Jitsi:
  • End-to-end encryption means the hackers can't understand your transmissions
  • 100% open source means the code that runs Jitsi can be scrutinized to see if it does what it claims (such as not transmit to an unauthorized source, not share your encryption key, not save your meeting on their server...)
  • No account needed means you can get started very quickly, and you don't need to share your personal info with the Jitsi company
  • Totally free as in beer. And free as in speech, come to think of it.
How do they stay in business if it's totally free?
To quote Jitsi themselves:
"We are fortunate that our friends at 8x8 fully fund the project. 8x8 uses Jitsi technology in products like Virtual Office. The open source community and service help to make Jitsi better, which makes 8x8 products better, which helps to further fund Jitsi. This virtuous cycle has worked well in the past and should continue to for many years to come."
Takeaway Tips
The flashy lure of Big Tech's conferencing software comes with strings attached — and some of those strings have big nasty hooks! Never have so few been made so rich by the negligence and apathy of so many. You're better than that!

Don't take the bait
Your meetings and video conferences are worth the best security the internet has to offer. Be a smart fish who avoids the hooks, uses safer conferencing software, and lives to swim another day.

Fishing lure with hooks

Stern little boy in goggles and pilot hat salutes
Ways We Can Help
Our help ranges from the little nudges on this page to get you started ...
to as little or as much guidance as you need.

If you're in our local area of Southern California, we can create a custom build just for you from scratch. For other locations, we can recommend hardware and walk you through the entire install.

Either way, we're available to support you — remotely or in-person — every step of the way.
Steve and Julie John signature
Never entrust your precious email to the enemy -- Big Tech! You're Better Than That! A woman pens a love letter to her soldier while in her mind the men get letters from home.
"I first requested services from Julie and Steve for help with my Quickbooks. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized how easy it was to work with them. They are very dependable, and I love how I can always count on their help.

Because I run my own business, having a working computer is very important to me, and if I am ever having any technology issues I know I can count on them to help me.

I would 100% recommend Human Interface because they are reliable and amazing at what they do."
— Fernando Godinho, Fernando Godinho Drywall

"Quick, friendly, and professional.
HI delivered exactly what was requested in the promised time frame. Thanks!"
— Jud Stevens, Neon Controls

Job Highlights
  • We helped register two domains, and set up DNS, website, and email accounts for Toys 4 Tots of the Inland Empire. It's early days yet, the dust has not yet settled but it's a fun project!
  • A longtime customer, Richard Lopez Construction in Corona, moved to a bigger, better office down the street. We took care of the approximately eight computer setups at the new office, configured their new AT&T router to use the same IP scheme, helped the wiring guy debug some connection issues, and setup their shared drives and alllll the shared printers (these folks really like sharing each other's printers!).
Human Interface   •    (909) 241-0445   •