Best Secure Email Services For Privacy Concerned People

Can you call Gmail, Outlook, YahooMail etc secure email services? Well, they’re definitely secure in the way that your data is (usually) safe from outside attackers. But when we talk of secure email service, the focus is on data security and privacy.

Most of these free email services snoop on your data to serve you ads. This may be fine with a lot of people but a privacy conscious user won’t like it one bit.

Maybe, you want to share something confidential, and you want it to be well-protected. Or, maybe, you just want to talk about Area 51? (shh, CIA wants to know your location!) Or you just don’t want the service providers to read your emails to serve you ads.

No matter what. If you are concerned about the privacy and security of your email conversation and want them to be as private as possible – this article shall help you find the best email services for the job.

Note: Judging by the privacy policies and given the work of these services (advocating about privacy & protecting users’ data) – we have hand-picked the services as recommendations for you. But, we advise you to believe that nothing is 100% foolproof and will never be. So, always be cautious – no matter what service it is.

Secure Email Services to Protect Your Privacy

Secure Email Services

Our list includes paid and free secure email providers which may offer standalone applications for multiple platforms (here – Linux will be the priority) or just provide the usual web-based email service.

1. ProtonMail

Protonmail

Key Highlights:

  • Open Source
  • End-to-end encrypted
  • Swiss-based
  • Free & Paid options available
  • Custom Domain supported (requires premium subscription)
  • Self-destruct message functionality
  • 2FA Available

ProtonMail is a quite popular Swiss-based email service which follows an ad-free model to protect your privacy. It lets you specify an expiration time for an email to self-destruct itself. In addition to all the security features, it is open source in nature. So, you can review the open-source encryption libraries or other stuff to be sure.

To add a custom domain, you need to have a premium subscription. You can use it for free with limited features or choose to upgrade it to a premium subscription (and supporting the company behind it).

2. Tutanota

Tutanota

Key Highlights:

  • Open Source
  • End-to-end encrypted
  • 2FA Available
  • Free & Paid options available
  • Custom Domains supported (requires premium subscription)
  • Whitelabel for business available

Tutanota is an encrypted email service provider fit for both personal and business use. In contrast to ProtonMail, it provides 1 GB of storage (instead of 500 MB) for free users. And, you can add more storage to your account as well.

You would need a premium subscription in order to add a custom domain. If you want, you can also opt for the ability to white label the service for your business.

Tutanota also provides some other tools to protect your privacy. Tools like free encrypted calendar or end to end encrypted forms are a few examples of their growing inventory.

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3. Librem Mail

Librem Mail

Key Highlights:

  • Decentralized
  • End-to-end encrypted

Librem Mail is a part of Librem One suite of services by Purism. Unlike others, it isn’t free. You need to opt for the premium subscription of Librem One in order to get access to their private email service, Librem Mail.

Personally, I haven’t used it. But, it looks like a decent end-to-end encrypted, ad-free email service given the history of Purism to protect users’ privacy. They are also creating a secure, Linux-based smartphone called Librem 5.

4. Mailbox

Mailbox

Key Highlights:

  • Privacy-focused
  • Cloud storage offering
  • Runs on green energy
  • End-to-End encryption

Mailbox is an impressive secure email service that runs on green energy. The data centers are located in Germany that makes it quite privacy-friendly.

It will cost you 1 Euro/month which includes 100 MB of secure cloud storage. The idea of having a cloud storage along with your email isn’t new — but not all privacy focused email providers offer that.

In addition to that, it provides a lot of security features to help you keep your emails private. Take a look!

5. Mailfence

Mailfence

Key Highlights:

  • End-to-end encrypted
  • Free & Paid options
  • Custom domain support available
  • 2FA Available
  • Browser-based only (no mobile apps)

Mailfence is a decent privacy-focused email service which enforces OpenPGP end-to-end encryption. You can start using it for free with limited storage (500 MB) and features. In either case, you also get the ability to upgrade your subscription to increase the storage space, unlock the ability to use a custom domain and so on.

The only downside that can be seen here is the lack of mobile apps. So, you need to launch a browser and sign-in in order to use across multiple devices.

6. TorGuard’s Private-Mail

Private Mail

Key Highlights:

  • OpenPGP end-to-end encryption
  • Standalone Desktop app (Windows for now)
  • Free and paid options
  • Custom domain option available with premium subscription

Private-mail ticks all the points that you normally look for in an private email service. If you want it for free, you will only get 100 MB of storage with encryption and webmail access only.

If you want to access the service across multiple devices (that includes your smartphone) – you may want to upgrade your subscription. For now, a desktop client for Windows is available. According to their download page – it is coming to Linux soon enough.

7. Hushmail

Hushmail

Key Highlights:

  • 14-Days Trial for Personal Use
  • Separate plans & pricing for business users (small businesses, healthcare, law, non-profits, & enterprise)
  • OpenPGP end-to-end encryption
  • Ability to create 2 web forms to let people reach out to you

Hushmail is an encrypted email service provider for privacy concerned people. For personal use, it allows you to access a 14-day trial period.

But, for businesses – it categorizes them and offers different pricing. For example, if you want to utilize a secure email service for your Healthcare company – it offers you HIPAA compliant service. Similarly, different plans for law firms, non-profits, enterprises, and small businesses.

In addition to the ability to add a custom domain for businesses, it also lets everyone create web forms (both personal and business users).

8. CounterMail

Countermail 1

Key Highlights:

  • OpenPGP end-to-end encryption
  • Custom domain support
  • Web form support
  • Windows, Linux, & MacOS X support

CounterMail is yet another alternative as a secure email service to the others mentioned above. It lets you try the service for one week absolutely for free. In addition to the encryption, it lets you have your own domain and create web forms – no matter what level of subscription you have.

The more you spend, the more storage you get. But, the features remain the same – which is a good thing in a way.

9. StartMail

Startmail

Key Highlights:

  • 30-day trial offer
  • Disposable email aliases
  • PGP Email Encryption
  • Custom domain option available with upgrade

An email service by Startpage.com (one of the best google alternatives) seems to be a deserving choice as one of the best private email services available.

It offers a 30-day trial with limited functionalities. If you like the service, you can choose to upgrade. In addition to all the features like custom domain, custom aliases, and PGP email encryption, there’s something very interesting. StartMail lets you utilize disposable email addresses. So, if you don’t want to share your real email address, you can always use a temporary one.

Some of our readers also mentioned StartMail as their favorite secure email service. Give it a try!

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10. POSTEO

Posteo De
Posteo De

Key Highlights:

  • Open Source
  • Runs on green energy
  • Paid only (no trials)
  • OpenPGP Encryption support
  • Does not support custom domain

Posteo.de is an interesting email service that focuses on privacy and security while also running on green energy.

It is an affordable solution – for just 1 Euro/month (billed annually). However, they do not support adding a custom domain – even if you want to pay more. Fortunately, you do get email aliases. You can upgrade the storage space along with email aliases, and calendars.

A Note About End-to-End Encryption (E2EE)

As an update to this article, we found quite a few people being skeptical about some of the email services which are end-to-end encrypted.

Well, to clear things up right off the bat, by default, the emails you send are not “end-to-end” encrypted but secure.

When we mention end-to-end encrypted – it means, only the receiver can decrypt (or access) the message. You can learn more about it on ProtonMail’s blog post – What is end-to-end encryption?).

So, when utilizing these secure email services – generate your keypair, import the public key of your recipient and remember to enable encryption while you compose the email.

For additional reference, you can read about how Mailfence enforces end-to-end encryption.

Wrapping Up

A few readers mentioned Lavabit. I didn’t really find it interesting but do have a look at it and judge it yourself.

You may have to face some inconvenience when using a privacy-focused email service, such as – mediocre UI and some personalization features. However, that’s a trade-off that you have to bear with if you want to prioritize your privacy over anything else.

Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you hate one of the secure email services mentioned above? Feel free to let us what you think in the comments below.

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  • I feel like you and I have different definitions of “secure”. Yes, protonmail features encryption, and can auto generate PGP keys (if you don’t already have your own), but they do comply with LEA when asked. Not exactly ideal