What is Private Email Server? Hillary Clinton in Hot Waters for Using Private Email Server

A mail server (sometimes also referred to an e-mail server) is a server that handles and delivers e-mail over a network, usually over the Internet. A mail server can receive e-mails from client computers and deliver them to other mail servers- like when you send an email to one of your colleague friends or family. A mail server can also deliver e-mails to client computers. A client computer is normally the computer where you read your e-mails, for example your computer at home or in your office. An advanced mobile phone or Smartphone, with e-mail capabilities, can be regarded as a client computer in these circumstances. So a private email server is responsible for fetching your emails whenever you try to access your email account & of course receive it from people who send you emails. But why is it “Private” Email Server- Read below to know the difference explained in detail.

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E-mail delivery: Client computer -> Mail server -> Internet -> Mail server -> Client computer

SMTP and POP3 server

After pressing the “Send” button while logged into your email account, your email client will connect to a server that is called an SMTP server. SMTP Simple Mail Transfer Protocol this protocol is used when e-mails are delivered from clients to servers and from servers to other servers.

When a user downloads e-mails to their email client, the email client then connects to a server, a POP3 server. A POP3 Post Office Protocol version 3 server uses a protocol named POP3 for its communication. That is the reason why it is called a POP3.

How Can My E-Mail Client (E-Mail Client) Find Right Mail Server On The Internet?

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You must for example specify the name of a server for outgoing e-mail and the name of a server for incoming e-mail. It is here you specify which SMTP server and which POP3 server that your mail client will communicate with over the Internet.

Can I Use Any Mail Server I Want On The Internet?

The short answer is No. Now will explain why, so pay attention. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) whose internet connection you use when you browse the Internet will normally have mail servers that you can access for your e-mails (both incoming and outgoing e-mail) but you can normally not access mail servers that other Internet Service Providers own. Which makes sense you can only access the ISP whose connection you’re using. The reason for this is that mail servers only accept certain IP addresses (Note: When you’re provided an internet connection, you’re also allotted a static IP address that can be easily traced back to you) and if your IP address is outside this range you will be denied access to the server.

How Do Mail Servers Find Each Other On The Internet?

Your e-mail has just started it’s journey to your recipient when you send an e-mail from your local computer to a mail server. Perhaps your receiver is on the other side of the world, and then it’s a very long distance that the e-mail must travel before it arrives to your receivers computer.

Before the mail server that your e-mail client communicates with knows where to deliver the e-mail message it will examine the e-mail address that you have specified as a receiver of the message. The mail server will extract the domain name of the e-mail address and use it to locate the mail server (POP3 server) that your receiver’s client computer communicates with. The domain name is found after the “@” character in an e-mail address. If for example the e-mail address is john@abc.com, the domain name is abc.com. By using this domain name as an address the mail server will find which mail server on the Internet to deliver the e-mail message to. When the server has been identified and it has responded that it will accept an e-mail delivery, the e-mail is sent to this server. And next time your receiver logs on to the POP3 server via his/her client computer, your e-mail will be downloaded to the person’s e-mail client. Normally all this will take just a few seconds, but if the mail servers or Internet have a lot of traffic at that moment it can take some more time.

This was a simplified description of how e-mails are delivered through the Internet.

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Now lets move onto the controversy and debate which erupted when Hillary Clinton revealed that she had used ‘an unsecured private email server’ for official communication when serving in her official capacity as US Secretary of State instead of the official email accounts that are maintained on federal government servers. The fallout seemed a logical conclusion considering the sensitivity of the information exchanged and shared.

The issue seemed to lose heat when it was found by investigating agencies that previous top US diplomats, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell had both had sensitive government information sent to non-governmental email addresses.

The potential sensitivity of government information which are marked ‘classified’ reaching the wrong hands can endanger and cause catastrophes government functioning. The whole email server affair is unlikely to die down soon or at least till the US presidential elections are held in November, but let’s try to understand what a private server means.

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A Private Server is a ‘virtual machine’ that is administered privately. Private servers already pre-configured are available for purchase on the market just like desktops, computers and laptops. Most private servers have short shelf lives as they are pre-configured to standard requirements. It is not illegal to run a private server and allocate account spaces for users; these can be set up anywhere at any time and opened or closed without any prior notice to users. A private server can also remove or suspend an individual user at any time for any reason.

Private Servers are not without benefits and downsides.

Advantages

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– Absolute freedom to the owner in choosing server functions and software

– Cheaper costs as equipment rental is not there

– Server activities are regulated by local laws; the service provider can not effect policies

– Offers more disk space, CPU time, memory and other benefits when compared to a Virtual Private Server or a Dedicated Server.

Disadvantages

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– Owner is responsible for software and security management

– Price of the server can be prohibitive if it is purchased for non-business purposes – e.g. games, hobbies etc.

– Traffic speed can become a bottleneck with very high-end hardware configurations.

Servers are largely of two types – Virtual Server and Dedicated Server. On the other hand, having a Dedicated Server involves actual purchase of the physical hardware or unit that meets computing needs.

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