The search for the best secure, encrypted and ad-free email service
Two decade back I had never imagined how important (and how frustrating) email was going to be. Today, when I look at my most commonly used personal email id (yes, its a gmail id) it is a nightmarish mess of spam, alerts, notifications, family mails, transactions receipts and key documents. But this is only one part of the problem. The other problem is that Google uses or mail content to send targeted ads that appear almost everywhere wherever I have my online footprint. Gmail has access to all my data and content of my mailbox. Anyway, I was not lucky or fast enough to get email@example.com so I decided to get a new email id with my own domain and make it my primary personal id. And, this started the search for the best email service provider for my custom domain.
I was looking for the three key attributes, apart from the usual things (reliability, ease of use etc) that you expect from a mail service provider:
- End to end encryption with zero knowledge of your content. In simple words, the mail provider should not be able to read it or decrypt it even if they want to.
- Provides me offline access to emails both on my desktop and my mobile devices.
- The server is based in Europe as Europe has the best privacy and data protection laws.
I did my search and found 5 providers who met the first criteria and were recommended for their secure and ad free mail service. Unfortunately, none of them met all the three criteria that I mentioned above.
ProtonMail is my choice.
The most popular among these, Protonmail comes closest to what I was looking for and I finally subscribed to it. Offline mail access on mobile is still a challenge but there is a workaround. They provide imap access to emails on the desktop but with a workaround. We have to install ProtonBridge that enables our mail clients to connect to Protonmail.
Tutanota : I am waiting for the offline access.
Tutanota has promised to launch offline access but its timeline is not given. Considering their track record I would only trust once they have launched it. But I was sold on to Tutanota for their privacy features. They are the only mail service provider who are not tracking any kind of meta-data from your mails. It is possible to open an account with very limited information and they do not ask for any phone or email id. You mail content, mail subject everything is encrypted. This is missing in all openPGP encryption based mail services; they only encrypt the mail content and not the mail subject and other details. Tutanota is quite economical as well (Starting Euro 1 per month vs Euro 5 per month for ProtonMail) so I am quite eager to see when it is going to launch its offline access to mail.
For those who are looking to get secure email address, both Protonmail and Tutanota have free plans with limited features (500mb to 1gb mailbox space) but you can try them.