5 secure alternatives to Gmail in 2023

Last updated: February 25, 2021
alternatives to Gmail
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Gmail service is the most popular email provider, with over 1 billion account holders at the most recent count. So it would be a big deal if their email accounts were shot through with privacy vulnerabilities and backdoors for surveillance, right? Well, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, that’s exactly what has happened.

While Gmail was once a pretty well-trusted place to keep your correspondence, a host of issues have dented that reputation. Now, no-one who is serious about their online privacy should rely on their service. This article looks in a bit more depth at the problems involved and offers 5 alternatives to Gmail that do take your privacy seriously.

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What happened to “Don’t Be Evil”? How Google abandoned email privacy

Once upon a time, Google was the darlings of the online world. Their fresh new search engine was rising to dominate over stale, inefficient competitors. And their auxiliary apps offered plenty of innovations for personal and business use.

But at some stage, innovation slipped over into intrusion. In 2017, we learned that Google had been routinely scanning personal emails to use as raw data for targeted advertising. That exposure led to an apology, and Google supposedly changed their behavior.

email privacy

But now, the situation has returned with a vengeance. As the WSJ explains, third-party developers who use Gmail have been given the ability to access the email accounts of Gmail members, as long as they bury their activities in T&Cs.

Google has been complicit in all of this, allowing users to be duped, and exercising zero oversight over rogue app developers. This situation has enabled developers of potentially useful apps to partner with email marketers to monetize information held in private emails.

And that’s just the material that’s come to light. Usually, in cases like this, there’s more below the surface. To some people, it’s enough to make them doubt Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) commitment to online ethics.

Why these app intrusions matter for email protection

Some other people might shrug their shoulders and argue that it’s the rules of the online game. These days, marketers need to access as much information as they can get to track complex consumer trends. The more info they have, the better they can serve their demographics.

Many cases documented by the WSJ, such as Edison Software, found employees manually reading private emails.

That’s naive at best. This isn’t just a case of software scanning through emails for numbers of keywords. Many cases documented by the WSJ, such as Edison Software, found employees manually reading private emails.

Imagine that ability in the hands of private investigators or political enemies. Or in the hands of cyber-criminals who are seeking to enrich themselves through targeted phishing scams.

It’s obvious that alternatives to Gmail are needed. This time, Google has gone too far, and there’s no way back for the search engine behemoth. So let’s discover some email providers who will protect your privacy and not sell it to the highest bidder.

Choose from the best alternatives to Gmail

Although Gmail is massive, it’s far from the only email provider around. And it might not be the best in terms of features and speed, even when privacy is taken out of the picture.

Many people are unwilling to migrate to smaller companies. We know it’s often a big step, but this is one change you won’t regret. Anyhow, here are 5 alternatives to Gmail that you can rely on.

1. ProtonMail

ProtonMail - gmail alternative

Reckoned by security specialists to be the gold standard among current email providers, Protonmail.com appears simple on the outside but has a rock-solid, hyper-secure core.

The whole USP is to protect your privacy via sophisticated encryption techniques. When you sign up, they won’t demand a huge amount of verification information. All you need to supply is a username and a password. And they won’t offer extras on the side – just a plain old email client for sending securely encrypted mail.

It’s a great option for people who need to send secure messages every now and then. But beware. If you lose your password, there’s no getting it back, and the contents of your account will be lost. That’s how seriously ProtonMail takes email privacy.

2. FastMail

Fast Mail - gmail alternative

Another stripped-down, nuts and bolts email client, Fastmail.com, says it all with its bare-bones title. This is an email account that’s fast to set up, easy to use, and disposable. FastMail is not great for sending elaborate emails with embedded content, but it’s fine for sending secure messages.

Security is provided by a virus scanner, an efficient phishing filter, and spam filters. You can also create up to 100 custom filters to set your own access parameters.

There’s no encryption, but it still scores highly for security features. However, with just 10 MB of storage space, some people may feel cramped.

3. Hushmail

Hush Mail - alternative to gmail

Like secure email provider ProtonMail, Hushmail.com offers a simple way to send private messages without fear of surveillance. Security features tick most peoples’ boxes. There’s a virus checker and a spam filter that works pretty effectively.

Although it’s free to use, Hushmail doesn’t come with ads beamed to your inbox, which is reassuring from a privacy point of view as much as anything else. The only problem is that the free version auto-deletes if you are inactive for 3 weeks, so it’s a good option for regular email users.

4. Zoho Mail

Zoho Mail - one of gmail alternatives

Zoho Mail is one of the best alternatives to Gmail for small businesses who want to protect the email privacy of their clients and themselves. Group accounts for up to 25 members are free of charge, so most small businesses should be fine. Plus, it works nicely with various browsers, Excel, and Word.

On the downside, Zoho Mail might not offer enough space in free mode for serious users, although DKIM and SPF authentication and excellent filters make it as secure as most services on this list.

5. Tutanota

TutaNota - one of gmail alternatives

One of the most exciting new secure email providers around, Tutanota.com encrypts everything you send, from the first letter of the title to the last byte of attachments. It will even allow encryption of email from correspondents if required.

As far as webmail clients go, Tutanota is easy to get to grips with, and 1GB of free storage is fine, while Android and iOS apps will be welcome for mobile users.

It’s all free right now, but expect premium features to be added and payment packages to appear. With a slick interface and impressive security features, you might be tempted.

What about other options for sending secure encrypted email?

Those 5 alternatives to Gmail are the elite of the current generation of webmail companies. However, they aren’t the only options. The sins of Gmail (not to mention the NSA) have sparked plenty of innovators to join the crowd, and there are some that we simply have to mention.

Kolab - secure emailKolab NowKolab Now is particularly exciting because it hooks up seamlessly with LibreOffice – the flagship Linux Office suite. So if you rely on Linux for business, it’s a great secure option.

Runbox - secure emailRunbox – Hailing from Norway, Runbox offers 1GB of free space and excellent security, as well as the added attraction of using 100% sustainable energy sources for their servers.

GMX - secure emailGMX – Easy importing of social media contacts and unlimited storage are major enticements from GMX. Still, it’s a little ad-heavy, and some users find the security procedures to be a little unwieldy, resulting in occasional lock-outs.

Countermail - secure emailCountermail – One of the oldest anonymous email services, Countermail offers OpenPGP encryption and only stores email data on removable CD ROMs – an unusual layer of extra security.

Work around Gmail privacy issues by using the competition

Given Gmail’s well-documented history of evasions and deceptions, it’s about time we all shifted to a different email provider. As you can see, there’s no lack of alternatives to Gmail, so be sure to protect your privacy whenever you send and receive mail. There’s no need to let Big Brother know a thing about your life with so many secure email providers to choose from.

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  1. Rubb

    Good article…..informative, lots of choices. tar and feather gmail, their day of reckoning is due.

  2. Aron Gard

    The Gmail alternatives you have listed above, are they Free email providers or do they also charge like Gmail? I am a loyal Yahoo Mail user. They have never disappointed me in the last 18 years I’ve been using them.

  3. Jon

    Fastmail is Australian which recently passed a bill to allow governments a backdoork into encryption. This is why I decided not to use them and host my company email with Thexyz in Canada. Still a five eyes country but the backdoor into encryption it too much for me.

  4. Leia McCarthy

    Among the alternatives Protonmail and Zoho Mail seems to be decent ones. Tutanota also seems promising.

  5. Jamie

    Part of why we don’t see a bigger backlash to this is that many Americans in particular are so focused on a tricorner-hat notion of opposing government that they fail to recognize monopolistic information conglomerates as wielding government-like power over us. They’re worried about Big Brother spying on them, but they can’t conceive of Big Brother as Google.

    I’ve used Gmail for a long time but only recently became aware of just how pervasive the system is in terms of analysis of content. It was always obvious, and yet I didn’t see it. Now I’m looking for ways to extract myself from the mess and this sort of content is really helpful. Thank you.

  6. Bob

    Does FastMail synergizes perfectly alongside uBlock Origin and HTTPS everywhere?

    1. Kevin Marlowe Author

      Hi Bob,

      Yes, you can certainly use all of these in conjunction as they perform different functions.

  7. Jerry Labrott

    I use ProtonMail and it has some limitations that some people might not be willing to put up with. You only get 500 MB of storage and can only send 150 messages per day. For about $5 a day you can upgrade to 5 GB of storage and are able to send 1,000 messages. What I like is the ability to set the expiration time of the email and also encrypt them. Since they are in Sweden they are not be obligated to hand over data in cases of US or EU civil litigation. Maybe it’s a little overkill, but the way thing are going it seems like a good thing to me.

    1. Amy

      They’re Swiss not Swedish and it’s 4 euros a month not a day, at least this my understanding! Apologies if I am wrong.

  8. Roxy

    Take a look at Mailfence, it’s a secure and private alternative to Gmail and it also incorporates the entire suite (calendars, groups, instant messaging etc.).

    1. Afgha

      I agree, it’s a great service. I think everyone should stop using Gmail, since they are literally reading everything we write, documents and all. This is very dangerous, we can’t be naive about this.

  9. Bengt Lindkvist

    I have been looking for alternatives to Gmail, and here are some of them.

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