Almost all of us rely on emails in our everyday lives, whether it’s to stay in touch with work, receive e-tickets or just for socializing with friends. But this reliance comes with a price: vulnerability to email hackers.
Even high-profile email providers like Google’s Gmail service are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Google’s popular email service has been linked to glaring privacy issues and other security risks – phishing, Netflix account hacks, etc. (In fact, we even have a list of email providers that are good alternatives to Gmail.)
But what are the actually best email providers for users who want every one of their messages to be super secure? Here’s a list of our recommendations – none of them should let you down.
- Being based in Switzerland, ProtonMail doesn’t need to worry about state surveillance.
- Offers Android, iOS and web-based apps made using open source methods
- Provides end-to-end encryption for all messages
- Has experienced some issues with accepting new users
- Generally a work in progress as of late 2018
The free plan offers 500MB of storage space. Plus, Professional and Visionary plans provide 5GB, 20GB or 50GB, as well as features like hosting up to 50 addresses. Prices range from free to 24 EUR per month, with a discount for customers who buy annual subscriptions.
The UI is fairly easy to use, although users have reported issues with the search function. Advanced security features, like zero access to user data, E2E encryption and secure AES, RSA and OpenPGP implementations make up for this.
- Flexible service, users can log in wherever they are.
- Strong customer service
- Reliable end-to-end encryption
- Can be tricky to download attachments
- Issues with service outages
HushMail is one of Gmail’s biggest competitors. They offer 25MB of storage space for free accounts, rising to 10GB for Premium and Business users. Any messages can be encrypted via SSL/TLS and OpenPGP by flagging a box on the UI. Everything is web-based, and two-step verification is offered to make passwords extra secure. The only issue with the UI is access, as outages are commonly reported on Hushmail’s service.
- Offers complete end-to-end encryption.
- Plenty of free storage
- Replies from users outside Tutanota can be encrypted
- Sending emails to users not on Tutanota can be complex
- Based in Germany, where surveillance may be an issue
One of the easiest to use services on our list of top email providers, Tutanota is relatively new and becoming ever more popular. Released in 2017, it uses first-rate end-to-end encryption, and also allows non-Tutanota users to send encrypted replies. However, sending encrypted messages to those users isn’t very straightforward. Regardless, 1GB of storage for free users (there are no fees at all) is a bonus and the UI is generally clear and intuitive.
- High standard of encryption via OpenPGP
- Stores user data on CD ROMs for extra security
- Specializes in protecting against Man-in-the-Middle attacks
- A little more complex for entry level users than other services
- If you lose your password, your account is totally lost
Viewed by hackers and security experts as one of the best email providers around, Countermail has been active since 2012. This provider uses a unique CD-ROM storage system, theoretically making it more secure. Storage limits range from 1GB to 2GB, with extra space available for an extra fee. The service isn’t cheap, with no free option and the basic package costing $29 per year. The encryption standard is very strong – OpenPGP-based SSL server encryption and authentication. Solutions are available for website owners as well.
- Solid E2E encryption based on OpenPGP
- Supports plain and rich text email formats
- Affordable prices
- Alias management could be improved
- Some problems with contact management on the mobile app
Based in Belgium and founded in 2013, Mailfence is definitely among the best email providers if security is an issue. E2E encryption offers reliable privacy for all messages, and there is an effective spam blocker, along with zero ads. OpenPGP keys are easy to manage via the UI, which also offers a calendar, contact management and document storage. The free package has 500 MB of storage, the entry-level paid option costs 2.50 EUR per month and offers 5 GB of storage, and the 7.50 EUR per month Pro package has 20 GB of storage.
- Excellent record in ensuring client privacy
- No private details are requested at sign-up
- Extra security via two factor authentication
- Cryptocurrencies are not supported
- Can be difficult to ensure incoming encryption for all messages
Based in Berlin, Posteo is one of Europe’s top email providers. They keep no logs, run no ads, and are open about any information requests from the German government. Posteo also offers E2E encryption and solid privacy protection. Praised by The Guardian and other media outlets for their security practices, Posteo are also quite affordable and offer 2GB of storage for 1 EUR/month. Their UI can be used across mobile and desktop devices, and it features an encrypted calendar and address book as well.
- Widely praised for resisting NSA/UK surveillance after Snowden revelations
- Good syncing with mobile devices
- Does not provide E2E encryption
- Better for businesses than individuals
The Swiss Kolab Now emerged from the 2013 NSA spying scandal as one of the top email providers for security-conscious web users. Based on open source encryption, it offers a diverse suite of business tools based around secure communications. Prices start at $4.49/month for individuals, but users receive a lot of tools with their subscription, including document storage, a calendar, an address book and – of course – a regular email client.
- Excellent range of services for businesses
- Secure end-to-end encryption and email forwarding via TLS
- All LuxSci servers are located in the USA
- Cannot buy online before you call a 1-800 number
Founded way back in 1999, LuxSci (or Lux Scientiae) is one of the best email service providers in the USA. Their SecureLine package allows secure E2E encrypted emails based around SSL and TLS. LuxSci also offers archiving, hosting and filtering services that are geared towards business users. This is reflected in the prices. For instance, the cheapest Business Class option comes with 50GB of storage and a monthly fee of $10. But the technical support and reliability may make this outlay worthwhile.
- Solid data protection under the Norwegian jurisdiction
- Possible to buy anonymously in BitCoin
- Excellent two factor authentication minimizes spam and phishing risks
- Storage capacity isn’t the greatest
- Restricted to desktop users
- Lacks killer features for power users
Almost certainly the top of the list of email providers from Norway, RunBox blends solid encryption and authentication to effectively lock away your sensitive communications. Any user data is physically stored away in Norwegian vaults, with full legal protection against snoopers. Storage isn’t massive at 1 GB for entry level users, and the UI feels a bit clunky at first (but you can always link it to a client like Thunderbird). And you can also enjoy a 30 day free trial before upgrading to a Micro, Mini, Medium or Max account. Fees range from $19.95 to $79.95, so it’s not the cheapest service around.
- Fanatical about user privacy
- Great value for money
- Full AES end-to-end encryption
- Sustained record of improvement since 2014
- Something of a work in progress even 4 years after release
- Desktop only
One of the best email providers in the USA, SCRYPTMail is an excellent budget option. Founded in 2014, this is a service that seeks to implement complete anonymity, even encrypting stored email metadata. The client can seem complex at first, but sending encrypted mails to users of other email services is fairly easy. It’s all free of charge as well, which sets it apart from the other email providers we’ve reviewed here. If you are prepared to deal with a slightly rough-around-the-edges email client, SCRYPTMail could be ideal.