(I started this back a couple days.)
Ever since I set up my own server, I’ve been debating abandoning all cloud services that I can. I’ve already stopped using Facebook (because it’s Facebook more than because it’s a cloud service). But I’ve also considered switching from Gmail to a personal email server. It’s scary how important my email account is. But of course, I’m also nervous about the security of the server itself. (Of course, the recent heart bleed vulnerability affected almost everyone, and I probably patched my server faster than the majority of the internet.) (At least once I knew about it—thanks xkcd!)
Where do you draw the line? When does it become more important to own your data, to own your email address? Because whoever owns your email address also owns most of your other accounts across the internet. I mean, if Google said tomorrow, “The data center with our Gmail servers exploded yesterday. We don’t have any backups, and we’ve decided to simply drop the service and all support. It’s in the terms. Have a nice day,” what would we do? Ok, I know that this is unlikely, but who says it can’t happen? I mean, Google decides to stop supporting services all the time.
This is something I think about every once and a while. And yet I keep using Gmail.
It’s been a couple days, and I thought of a very good reason for me to use Gmail, as well as anyone else who’s able to setup their own personal email server: credibility. My thought is that if I were to attempt to use an email message that is stored only on computers under my control (other than possibly the sender, who may have lost/destroyed any trace of sending the message, or may be simply withholding it) as evidence of some kind, it could be easily argued that I could have created a fake email on the server, since I have root access. The same cannot be said of Gmail, as I do not work for Google, nor do I know anyone personally who does. So a message sent to me from a bank or online payment system confirming payment (for example) must be authentic, and could be used as proof of payment.
That was a long thought, but that’s what it comes down to: the fact that I do not own the server storing my email gives the messages credibility. (At least I hope it does, since I am not a lawyer, and I don’t care enough to research this—I would rather go to bed.)