The most popular email platforms are free to use, such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail. However, there’s a popular saying that “if something is free, you’re the product.” In exchange for free email, you allow the provider to harvest your data for advertising purposes to earn revenue, and many people are not comfortable with this arrangement.
The best secure email providers offer an alternative for privacy-minded users, and Proton Mail is one of the best examples. Founded in 2013 and based in Geneva, Switzerland, Proton Mail uses end-to-end encryption for email content. It encrypts your data before they get sent to its mail servers, unlike other common email services.
Proton Mail can not access the content of emails by design. However, your email’s subject lines are not encrypted because of the protocol Proton Mail uses. The platform offers a free account with limited messaging and storage, and you can pay to upgrade your features.
Proton Mail: Plans and pricing
Proton Mail offers a free account that gives access to 1 email address, 1 GB of storage, and a maximum of 150 messages daily. You need to subscribe to the Unlimited plan to upgrade to 15 email addresses, unlimited messages, support for 3 custom email domains, and 500 GB of storage.
The Unlimited plan has different pricing for individuals, families, and businesses. The Individual plan costs $11.99 per month, the Family plan costs $29.99 per month for up to 6 users and 3 TB of storage, and the business plan costs $11 per user per month. You’ll get significant discounts on the unit price if you pay for 12 or 24 months in one go.
You can pay using a credit card, cryptocurrency, or wire transfer. If you’re not satisfied with the service, you can ask for a full refund within 30 days of your payment.
Proton Mail: Features
Proton Mail offers many useful features, including:
End-to-End Email Encryption
End-to-end encryption is a private communication protocol that prevents any third party from accessing data while it’s in transit from one server to another. The data is encrypted on the sender’s server and only the recipient’s server can decrypt it. This feature means that even Proton Mail can’t access your email content. If anyone asks for it, the company is unable to provide it.
However, subject lines are not encrypted in Proton Mail because the platform adheres to the OpenPGP standard. In PGP, the subject line is part of the header packet and can not be end-to-end encrypted.
A Proton Mail subscription includes access to ProtonDrive, the platform’s cloud storage solution. The Unlimited plan gives users access to up to 500 GB of storage for their emails and other types of files. For instance, you can store your images and videos on ProtonDrive and access them from any device as long as you have the correct login details.
ProtonDrive is also encrypted, so you can share files securely. You can view the version history of your files; ProtonDrive stores up to 200 versions of each file for up to 10 years.
A Proton Mail subscription also includes access to the platform’s virtual private network (VPN) service. To the uninitiated, VPN software protects your browsing information by masking your IP address. It allows you to browse the internet anonymously and access content that may be blocked in your region via the IP address system.
For instance, you can be in Romania and choose an IP address hosted on a server in the United States. This way, you can access subscription services and content exclusive to U.S.-based people.
A Proton Mail subscription includes access to the company’s online calendar tool. You can use this tool to plan your schedule rigorously and share it with family, friends, colleagues, etc. You can host multiple calendars for different purposes. For example, you can have a distinct one for your work schedule and another for your weekends.
A good thing about a Proton Mail subscription is that it unlocks access to a broad suite of services. You can not only send encrypted emails but you also have access to broad cloud storage, a VPN service, and a calendar to plan your schedule.
Proton Mail: Interface and in use
One of the things that Proton Mail is famous for is offering a good user experience. The platform has a very intuitive interface that you’ll likely find easy to use. You can switch between different features without hassles, with a visually appealing interface that’s pleasing to work with.
You can access Proton Mail from the web or download the app on your smartphone (iOS and Android) or desktop. The desktop solution is a “bridge” app that lets you access Proton Mail from your existing email client such as Microsoft Outlook for Windows and Apple Mail for macOS.
Proton Mail: Support
Proton Mail offers direct customer support through email. You can fill out a contact form on the official website and wait for an email response or message its support email directly. You also have access to complimentary support resources including user guides, manuals, and FAQs.
Proton Mail: The competition
There’s no shortage of secure email solutions competing with Proton Mail. Two notable competitors are Tutanota and Hushmail. Tutanota is a German email platform that uses its own end-to-end encryption standards, unlike Proton Mail which uses open-source standards to foster trust.
Hushmail is a Canadian email service offering end-to-end encryption for your messages. Pricing starts from $50 per year for personal use, making it a more affordable solution than Proton Mail but with fewer features.
Proton Mail: Final verdict
Proton Mail is one of the best secure email platforms you can choose. Its encryption has been tested several times by law enforcement and found secure. For instance, Proton Mail won a 2021 Swiss court victory ruling that secure email services aren’t subject to data retention requirements imposed on telecoms services.
A slight drawback is that Proton Mail is not built for high-volume messaging. Many popular websites also block people from using a Proton Mail address to sign up for their services.
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