Society has become even more dependent on online communications such as email and messaging services and email is of the most important aspects of our online life because it’s the address that links most of our accounts; it’s what we use to get logins and collect receipts. Access to our email account can give someone access to almost our entire online life. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re using an email provider that’s private, secure, and not controlled by a Big Tech giant.
Unfortunately, the major free email services such as Gmail and Yahoo! Mail have relatively little respect for the privacy of users’ inboxes. This disregard for user privacy is the bread and butter of Google, Yahoo, and other free email services. They earn tons of money through advertisers who want to keep track of individual purchasing habits or to identify potential customers by matching purchasing patterns with advertisements.
Many people just want to move away from Big Tech giants that have invaded so many aspects of our lives and want to support the alternatives.
In short, if you are concerned with the privacy of your email inbox, then switching to a more secure and private email service is the only way to go. Not all of these services come free – that’s because you’re paying for a product, instead of being used.
If you weigh the advantages over the cost, you might realize that in the end, the security and privacy that you get may be worth the price you pay for the service.
Below are the top secure and private services that you can choose to use to ensure the privacy of your personal information as contained in your email inbox.
ProtonMail – Encrypted email based in Switzerland
A secure email provider based in Switzerland, ProtonMail will cost a minimum of $5.00/mo for 5GB of storage space. It has a free service but only gives up to 500MB of storage. This won’t be enough to archive your daily emails so a premium subscription is often a must for most people.
Founded by a team of academics in CERN and MIT in 2014, ProtonMail became very popular in the privacy space.
ProtonMail uses PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) encryption which is the encryption standard for email. It stores data on secure servers located in Switzerland. Being in Switzerland means that user data is said to be protected from government surveillance, since the country is well known for being a strong privacy jurisdiction.
In any case, end-to-end encryption means even employees at the company can’t see the contents of your emails.
Overall, ProtonMail provides a great email service that ensures data privacy and security at all times. It has apps for both Android and iOS platforms and can be used with other email clients through its Bridge feature on desktops.
ProtonMail’s other features include IP address stripping, email encryption at rest on Swiss servers, support for mobile devices, compatibility with email clients, and support for open-source Android apps.
Tutanota – Encrypted email based in Germany
Run by a small team of privacy enthusiasts based in Germany, Tutanota offers a secure email service with the highest level of security. It does so without sacrificing its intuitive and user-friendly user interface.
Tutanota is more affordable than ProtonMail and is a good choice for those who want encrypted email on a budget. The free plan also gives 1GB of space, double that of ProtonMail.
Unlike ProtonMail, Tutanota uses its encryption standard that incorporates AES and RSA. As such it encrypts the subject line of the email as well, something ProtonMail doesn’t do.
However, this fact also has some drawbacks. Due to the high level of encryption, Tutanota does not support PGP, IMAP, POP, or SMTP, meaning you can’t connect it to an alternative email client. Also, users won’t be able to import existing emails into the Tutanota inbox.
It is worth noting that Tutanota encrypts user inbox, contacts, and calendars on servers in Germany. Thus the service is said to be one of the most secure email providers, assuming that you’re sending Tutanota to Tutanota emails, or using sending an email from Tutanota to a non-Tutanota email address with a passworded link.
Tutanota offers both iPhone and Android apps.
Mailfence – Encrypted email from Belgium
Another great full-featured email provider is Mailfence which is based in Belgium. Mailfence offers several features including calendar and contact management, file storage, and, more importantly, PGP encryption for emails. As its servers are located in Belgium, users are assured of full data protection as mandated by the country’s laws.
Mailfence is a great choice, especially when it comes to full PGP control as it doesn’t require addons.
This email provider offers productivity features. Another thing worth noting here is the fact that Mailfence has a very user-friendly intuitive design and layout. Also, it has reliable email and phone support as well as support for cryptocurrency. As a paid email service, Mailfence starts at €2.50/mo for GB of data storage.
Other features of Mailfence include full OpenPGP encryption support, and SMTP/POP/IMAP support.
Runbox – Private email hosted in Norway
One of the oldest private email services based in Norway, Runbox has been in operation for more than 20 years. It provides high data security through the use of renewable energy.
One feature of Runbox that sets it apart from other email providers is the fact that it provides users with many aliases that they can use for their accounts.
This email service fully supports SMTP, POP, and IMAP protocols, meaning it also supports third-party email clients. However, Runbox does not have its own mobile or desktop apps as of yet and doesn’t offer end to end encryption.
Also, PGP is not yet built into the Runbox email platform but it can be used through a 3rd party client that does.
Other features of Runbox include IP address stripping, GDPR compliance, basic file storage, and strong data protection in Norway. Some of its downsides include the lack of desktop or mobile client support, it is not open source, and data is not encrypted on its servers at rest.
Posteo – Private email based in Germany
Another German-based email provider, Posteo also provides a high level of privacy and security for its users. It is also a full-featured email service and uses PGP encryption for data security and privacy.
What sets this email provider apart from others is the fact that it does not support custom domains, has no spam folder (it just reject emails it thinks is spam) and has no trial or free mode.
When it comes to privacy, Posteo strips IP addresses from email and does not keep email logs. The service also offers a high level of encryption standards. Posteo also fully supports anonymous registration and payments ensuring that there will be no digital trails left behind by users.
Other features of Posteo include data encryption at rest on secure German servers, open-source, and the platform is self-financed.
StartMail – Private email based in Netherlands
From the same company that built the Netherlands-based private search engine, Startpage, StartMail allows users to employ PGP encryption while emails are encrypted at rest on its servers located in the Netherlands.
One notable feature of StartMail is that it allows users to create temporary, disposable email addresses “on the fly.” Users can use these addresses with other email services. It also supports IMAP and SMTP.
Also, the fact that Netherlands is a good jurisdiction for privacy makes StartMail a good option for users who value privacy a lot. StartMail also keeps as little data of its users as possible and it handles encryption on the server-side rather than on the browser.
As mentioned, StartMail allows the creation of a temporary email address, accepts cryptocurrency payments, supports IMAP and SMTP support, and strips IP addresses.
Mailbox – Private email based in Germany
A private email provider based in Germany, mailbox.org is very affordable. Its basic plan only costs €1 per month and offers 2GB of storage.
This email provider also offers a full email and productivity suite. It has tons of features as well, including a calendar, address book, basic cloud storage, spreadsheets, office documents, presentations, among more productivity functionality. It also has a sleek layout and design.
When it comes to encryption, mailbox.org fully supports PGP encryption. It also supports mobile apps and third-party email integrations but has no app of its own.
Other features of mailbox.org include PGP encryption server-side or through third-party apps, it is highly protected by German privacy protection laws, and it has protection against man-in-the-middle attacks.
CounterMail – private email based in Sweden
Operating for more than 10 years now in Sweden, CounterMail is a secure email provider. It uses OpenPGP encryption, boasting 4,096-bit encryption keys. It maintains no-logs and has diskless servers that it says can effectively protect user privacy.
Countermail allows anonymous email headers. It strips the sender’s IP address as well. Additionally, emails and attachments are stored at rest and encrypted with the use of OpenPGP. Its servers are located in Sweden.
One drawback of CounterMail is its expensive cost as compared to other email providers. The company justifies this higher cost by explaining that they use high-quality servers as well as implement strong security measures. Additionally, CounterMail also protects users against identity leaks and Man-In-The-Middle attacks through RSA and AES-CBC encryption.
Other features of CounterMail include support for cryptocurrency payments, secure and built-in password manager, encrypted emails are stored with no logs on a secure server in Sweden, custom domain support and it uses RSA, AES-CBC, and SSL encryption. It only has two shortcomings namely – outdated UI design and a more expensive pricing scheme.
CTemplar – encrypted email based in Iceland
Another email provider that claims to offer secure and private email service is CTemplar which is based in Iceland. Incidentally, Iceland is also among the countries that have very strong privacy laws.
CTemplar stores emails, attachments, and contacts encrypted on a bare-metal server located in Iceland.
Its other features are built-in support for end-to-end encryption using OpenPGP, it’s 100% open source, it has zero logs, it strips IP addresses, and allows anonymous sign-up options. Some of its downsides include the lack of email clients, high pricing, and lacks of support for IMAP/SMTP and third-party email clients.
Kolab Now – private email based in Switzerland
Another full-featured email provider is Kolab Now. It is based in Switzerland. This email provider is best suited for business users and privacy-focused teams. While Kolab Now has several great features, it falls somewhat short on encryption features though. Emails are not stored encrypted at rest.
Feature-wise though, Kolab Now is worth considering. A subscription to the email service includes email, contacts, calendar, scheduling, collaboration/sharing tools, and cloud file storage.
Kolab Now is also a bit pricey considering that it lacks some good encryption features but it does have more productivity and sharing abilities.
Other features of Kolab Now include cryptocurrency payments, fully supports POP, SMTP, and IMAP, and has full email suites as some of its strongest pros.
Soverin – Private email based in Netherlands, hosted in Germany
For those who want a basic email service with lots of storage space, Soverin could be a good option. Soverin is a basic and private email platform that stores its data on servers located in Germany. It strips IP addresses from headers and also uses strong encryption standards. Unfortunately, email is not stored encrypted at rest by default.
Soverin offers 25 GB of storage for all its plans and email date are protected by the Dutch privacy laws and GDPR. It can also be used with third-party email clients.
Other features of Soverin include strong data protection under Dutch privacy laws, 25GB of storage for all subscription plans and it can be used with third-party email clients. Its downside includes the lack of mobile apps support, it is not open source and has no built-in encryption option.
Thexyz – Private email based in Canada
Thexyz is a secure email and web hosting provider that is based in Canada. For those who don’t mind the fact that Canada does not have the best jurisdiction when it comes to privacy, this email provider may still be a good option, depending on your needs.
All email accounts on Thexyz come with encrypted cloud storage as well as contacts, calendar, and team features. Thexyz encrypts all emails at rest using AES 256-bit encryption.
A basic account subscription comes with unlimited aliases and 25 GB of storage at an affordable price of $2.49/mo for its premium email package.
Thexyz has many pros including a great interface, email encryption at rest with 256-bit AES, unlimited aliases, support for custom domains, and more.