Review: The Helm personal email server puts you in control of your data

Recent days haven’t been good to your personal data. Scandals comply with data breaches, that are adopted by but extra scandals, as the massive tech corporations proceed to worm their manner even deeper into our lives. It has change into more and more clear that just about each motion you take — be it on-line or off — is collected, categorized, and offered by entities that by no means had your greatest pursuits at coronary heart.

But it would not should be that manner. Or, at the very least to not that very same troubling diploma. Services like Tor, Signal, and ProtonMail provide actual options to the data assortment that has change into the norm. And, now, we will add yet another providing to the combo. Say hey the the Helm personal email server.

The gadget, a modern trying triangle that might be confused for a modern-art impressed paper weight, is a personal email server for your house. Once correctly arrange, it permits the consumer to ship and obtain email as they could usually — from their smartphone or pc — with an vital bonus: the data is saved in your house or workplace (there may be an encrypted offsite backup for these frightened about shedding all their email in a home hearth). That’s proper, with Helm(opens in a new tab) you each personal and control your emails.

“[Everything] we do is designed to know as little about you as potential.”

Importantly, Helm would not scan the content material of your emails for promoting functions. According to the corporate, your entire gadget and repair is designed with privateness in thoughts.

“From state-of-the-art encryption to safe checkout processes, all the pieces we do is designed to know as little about you as potential,” explains Helm.

The Helm ships with 128GB of storage — considerably greater than a free Gmail account provides — and provides you the choice so as to add an extra 5TB of storage at a later date by way of a slide-in tray. If you wish to go actually bonkers, you may even stack total “enlargement items” for extra storage and efficiency.

In different phrases, this factor is designed to final.

The Set Up

Getting your Helm up and operating is easy — properly, as easy as establishing an email server might ever probably be.

The first step is to take the factor out of the field and plug it into an influence outlet (my evaluation unit appears fairly good on a shelf subsequent to my data). You can both plug the Helm straight into your router with the included ethernet cable — which Helm recommends — or later use your wi-fi community to get issues up and operating. I went with the direct plugin, however realizing that if I wished to I might set it up at a bodily distance from my router was a consolation.

The again aspect.
Credit: Zlata Ivleva / mashable

Next, obtain the Helm app (obtainable on each the App Store and Google Play) on your smartphone and ensure your telephone’s Bluetooth is turned on. As quickly because the Helm’s energy button begins blinking, which it ought to do shortly after you plug it in, you’re able to launch the app.

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Screenshots from the Helm setup.
Credit: screenshots / helm app

Working your manner by way of the setup app is fast, and with the activation code that comes with your buy you can ship and receiving emails shortly after unboxing. You’ll wish to take a second to “warm-up your email,” nevertheless, to make sure that the Gmail and Outlook filters of the world do not mistake your digital missives for spam.

The Helm’s plug-and-play simplicity implies that even a less-than-tech-literature particular person can get issues up and operating in no time. Which is nice. Privacy should not be restricted to these with specialised technical capabilities.


You can be forgiven for stating the apparent proven fact that storing all your emails in a bodily gadget on your desk might, properly, backfire. What if, heaven forbid, your home burned down or was burglarized?

Thankfully, Helm has your data coated. The $99 annual subscription charge (on the time of this writing, the primary yr is obtainable free of cost) would not simply guarantee your emails are despatched and a site registration. It additionally protects your data with an offsite encrypted backup.

“Encryption keys are created on every Helm Personal Server and are solely accessible to you,” explains the corporate. “Keys for encrypting backups are saved on an included USB drive and your telephone.”

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The USB key.

As lengthy as you have the encryption key, you can restore your data to a brand new Helm in case of a device-destroying mishap.


Helm says it takes the safety of your email severely. After all, what is the level of having a non-public email server if any hacker who appears like it could actually take a peek at your data?

“Your gadget consists of full-disk encryption, safe boot, and encrypted backups,” explains the corporate. “Each Helm makes use of certificates from the Let’s Encrypt Project to safe connections to and from your customized area.”

The firm guarantees it’ll additionally push all the mandatory safety updates to your gadget. And, as an additional bonus, Helm is asking for assist from the bigger infosec group.

“We rent hackers to attempt to break into our product and can quickly announce a bug bounty—a money reward—to anyone who’s in a position to detect vulnerabilities in the gadget,” notes Helm.

Sure, nothing on-line is unhackable, and if you are actually involved about being particularly focused by cybercriminals than one thing like Google Advanced Protection Program is perhaps for you. However, if you’re simply a mean Joe trying to sluggish the fixed erosion of your privateness then the Helm is value a glance.

The takeaway

The Helm does many issues proper, each philosophically and technically. The virtually plug-and-play email server makes it not solely potential, however comparatively simple, to take again control of your email — and, by extension, your digital life — in an actual manner. The $299 value and annual subscription charge, whereas nothing to sneeze at, comes throughout as affordable when you take a look at all the pieces that comes with it.

With giant data breaches turning into a extra frequent half of on a regular basis life, and belief in main tech corporations like Facebook declining, Helm couldn’t have chosen a greater time to launch an easy-to-use personal email server. If you’re ever end up pondering that it is previous time you take again control of your data, Helm(opens in a new tab) may simply be the correct place to begin.

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