What makes ProtonMail our top pick isn't just the security the service provides to its users, but the ability to quickly setup the service and ensure that it stays safe from prying eyes. ProtonMail is based out of a security center in Switzerland, developed by scientists from CERN and MIT. The service launched in 2013 to glowing reviews, not only for its encryption and security factors, but for its ease of use as well. Setting up a ProtonMail account is as simple as setting up an email address with Gmail or Outlook, but unlike those platforms, ProtonMail has built-in security for your protection against rogue users and snooping eyes.
In terms of security and services, here's what makes ProtonMail so powerful: the service features end-to-end encryption, something you probably hear a lot about when it comes to VPNs and private messaging apps like Signal. This means every message you send from your ProtonMail account is protected from the moment you hit send to the moment the message is opened, and it can only be viewed by the sender and the recipient. When the message is stored on ProtonMail's private servers, only the sender, who contains the public key, and the recipient, who has the private key, can read the message. Not even ProtonMail can read the message, despite it living on their own servers. In fact, ProtonMail promises that they mathematically cannot read your messages, because their zeroaccess architecture makes it impossible to decrypt the messages stored on their servers.
Of course, this type of encryption only truly functions well if you're emailing other ProtonMail users. For this reason, ProtonMail also supports sending mail to other non-ProtonMail users while still offering the same kind of encryption you'd expect from their service. This includes mail providers like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, Apple Mail, and even AOL Mail. These users will receive an encrypted link in place of the email, which they can decrypt using a passphrase you've shared with them privately. And, of course, you can also send unencrypted emails to these users as well. And as we mentioned, ProtonMail puts a strong focus on ensuring their service is easy for anyone to use. There's no software to install on your computer, no encryption keys that you have to keep track of, and no difficult setup process. Plus, ProtonMail offers apps for both Android and iOS, and both are well-received by their users.
ProtonMail has a free tier for users to sign up and use, which allows for a single user to sign up and use the service online. This supplies you with 500 megabytes of online storage, a single email address, up to 150 messages sent per day, limited customer support, and up to three labels or folders. Most users will want to spring for the Plus plan, which grants a much-more flexible user experience. For $5 per month or $48 per year, the Plus subscription grants you plenty of extra features, including the ability to send up to 1000 messages per day, store up to 5GB of cloud-based data, keep 200 folders or labels, experience normal support from ProtonMail, and use email filters and autoresponders. Businesses will want to look into the Professional plan, which offers up to 50 users the ability to store 5GB of data per user, send unlimited messages, keep unlimited folders, and features a priority support line. And of course, the Visionary plan exists for those ready to pay for the top experience. $30 per month or $288 per year gets you emails for six different users, 20GB of cloud storage, unlimited messaging, and an included ProtonVPN to keep your internet usage secure and private.
Overall, most users looking for a secure or private email address will find a lot to like in ProtonMail. It's easy to setup, even easier to use, and features some of the best security we've seen in private emails. The importance of sending encrypted messages to unencrypted services can't be understated, and the free tier is competent enough for most users to rely on. The Plus tier, meanwhile, is great for users looking to take their email to the next level, and options for professionals and teams make it a great choice for anyone looking for a quality email service that won't share, leak, or sell your data.
- Excellent end-to-end encryption
- Free tier available
- Mobile apps available
- Top-end plans expensive
- Limited cloud storage