The 10 most secure email providers of 2021

Nadin Bhatt
Nadin Bhatt | Writer
Last updated: May 7, 2021
logos of secure email providers

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If you’re looking for an email provider that you can trust, finding the right service isn’t always easy. Plenty of companies claim to be secure email providers but actually have plenty of holes, letting hackers and phishers wreak havoc.

But even the well-known providers cannot give you full online protection. That’s why we recommend using a VPN together with your secure email for the best security and privacy. This way, you’ll be able to browse, stream, and torrent safely without any IP or DNS leaks.

Use secure email and a VPN for full online protection
A VPN will protect not only your emails but the whole traffic. That includes browsing, streaming, torrenting, gaming, and more. Choose NordVPN and stay safe online for just $3.30/month.

Getting back to secure emails, there are fantastic operators running some of the safest email accounts ever created. Currently, the number one is ProtonMail, which also makes a great pair with ProtonVPN. It has end-to-end encryption, up to 20 GBs of storage, and 2-factor authentication.

Top 10 most secure email services

There are also other options, so we’ve put together our list of the 10 most secure email providers. Any one of these will keep your data safe, quarantine your contacts, and block snoopers.

1. ProtonMail

Many people’s preferred option for the most secure email system, ProtonMail, is a slick Swiss company that focuses on absolute privacy. The location is important, as Switzerland is legendary for ensuring secrecy and privacy. So any data on ProtonMail will remain hidden from government surveillance.

Their free package comes with 500 MB of storage, which you can upgrade to 5-20 GB using the paid services. ProtonMail’s End-to-End encryption puts them among the safest email vendors, providing safety even when sending to users outside the ProtonMail service. Moreover, everything is anonymized, and no personal information has to be supplied when you sign up.

Buying the Visionary plan of ProtonMail (24 EUR/month) will also give you access to ProtonVPN – their super-secure VPN service. If you need both a secure email service and a VPN, this may be worth considering. Finally, you can learn more about the product by reading our ProtonMail review.

2. Tutanota

Despite its exotic-sounding name, Tutanota hails from Germany, where it has earned an impressive reputation as one of the most secure email providers. All mail and attachments sent via Tutanota are automatically encrypted by Tutanota’s open-source webmail client. Also, no IP information is retained after sending. Basically, Tutanota goes all out for your email security.

It’s also very cheap, with Premium packages starting at around $1 per month. There’s a limited free option and the Pro package, which includes a generous 10 GB of storage. The regular Premium option is just as secure but comes with just 1 GB.

Find out more in our dedicated Tutanota review.

3. FastMail

A relative veteran of the secure email scene, FastMail offers a simple service for individual users. All sent and received messages are encrypted when possible, while TLS and SSL encryption are standard on the FastMail web client or app. They also offer “world-class” spam filtering and virus checking.

Basic packages come with 2 GB storage, Standard features 25 GB, while Professional offers 100 GB. All are competitively priced and come with zero ads or tracking. All in all, it’s a great option for solo email users.

Learn more about FastMail

4. HushMail

One of the most famous secure email providers around, Hushmail has created easy-to-use web and desktop clients. Based in Canada, Hushmail’s tools encrypt outgoing messages, creating dedicated websites for recipients to use, while OpenPGP and SSL/TLS combine to keep any messages private.

They offer free and Premium packages, which come with 10 GB of secure storage. There’s a well-designed iPhone app as well, helping to protect your messages even when you’re on the move. See all the details in our Hushmail review.

5. Zoho Mail

Generally oriented towards professional users, Zoho Mail seeks to offer an affordable set of communication tools for businesses who need reassurance and privacy. A great feature for businesses is the way their email clients work with the Zoho Workplace – a set of secure office apps.

But the real gem here is Zoho’s encryption and authentication, which puts it in the upper echelons of secure email providers. Standard packages come with 30 GB of storage, while Professional packages bundle in over 100 GB. More on prices and features – in our Zoho Mail review.

6. SCRYPTMail

The only way SCRYPTMail could be more serious about security is if they had a global private mercenary force punishing hackers. It’s as they say – “privacy is a right, not a privilege.” Founded by a group of security obsessives in the USA, this email service offers top-of-the-line encryption and can send encrypted messages to any web user.

Unlike some other services, SCRYPTMail also encrypts the metadata on its servers, putting another barrier between hackers (or government agencies) and user data. Storage limits are generous, and almost all of the services offered by SCRYPTmail are free, making it doubly attractive.

There’s more about SCRYPTMail in our review.

7. Posteo

If you’re asking yourself what the most secure email service around is, the German contender Posteo is surely going to appear near the top of the list. Based on open-source coding, Posteo is ad-free and totally secure. It is also deeply committed to sustainability, which makes it unique in the secure email world.

Expect strong encryption and two-factor authentication, and don’t expect any data collection or surveillance. If Posteo runs into issues with the government, they make a point of warning their users. The very cheap Basic package comes with 2 GB of storage, but you can upgrade to 20 GB for a small monthly fee.

Check out our Posteo review for more details

8. LuxSci

If you’re looking for a business email solution and you’re based in North America, LuxSci could be just what you need. Based in Massachusetts, this company offers a suite of secure communications tools (not just email). Packages come with 1-50 GB storage.

There are individual accounts as well as corporate packages, but in reality, LuxSci’s services lean towards larger organizations. And they do a pretty good job at filtering emails and keeping staff data safe and sound. See our LuxSci review for more details.

9. CounterMail

Going against the grain of commercial email companies, CounterMail is Sweden’s addition to the pack of high-security email providers. Uniquely, it uses a CD ROM-based system to store user data, minimizing the chance of hackers accessing emails. The company also follows a policy of total openness – a refreshing decision in the online security world.

There’s no free option with CounterMail, and prices are relatively high, as you might expect with the safest of email accounts. Storage maxes out at 2 GB with standard packages but can easily be expanded for a supplementary fee. Check out the CounterMail review for more.

10. Mailfence

Coming from Belgium, Mailfence is among the finest secure email providers in the world. Ensuring total freedom for users communicating with other email accounts, Mailfence uses OpenPGP to provide excellent encryption on all incoming and outgoing data and includes two-factor authentication to add another security layer.

The free package features 500 MB of storage, which increases with Entry and Pro packages, offering a maximum of 20 GB. Mailfence commits to blocking every spam email and preventing any unwanted ads from appearing in your webmail inbox. Read the Mailfence review to learn more.

5 Best encrypted email services for 2021 | Are you using a secure email??
2021-04-14

What you should look for in secure emails

When reviewing secure emails, we always have a must-have set of features. If the service misses even one, it simply doesn’t qualify to be called “secure.” Below you will find the attributes that let us decide whether the score will be negative or positive. In the same way, they can be your guiding light when choosing your own secure email.

  • Two-factor authentication. Also known as 2FA, this feat adds an extra layer of protection and is necessary not only for secure emails but online banking and other activities. There are plenty of 2FA options, ranging from USBs to authentication apps. However, probably the most common one is a smartphone, known as “something that you have.”
  • End-to-end encryption. While this seems to be a core feature of any secure email, some services present themselves and secure without end-to-end encryption. Without it, third parties can read your email while it’s traveling from server to server towards the recipient.
  • Removing metadata headers. Most users don’t know that each email contains these headers, containing browser and device info. In some cases, you may find the recipient’s data as well! Therefore, to have true privacy, removing all this is a must.
  • The location of servers. Basically, that’s where your secure email provider resides. Many countries have data retention laws, meaning that they will collect your data without any warning. That’s why a provider from Russia or the US will always be suspicious.

Why should you use a secure email?

If you’re reading this article, you probably know the answer. And for those who still haven’t made up their mind, we’ve made this list of some very good reasons to ditch Gmail or Apple Mail.

  • Securing your emails. Again, this is quite self-explanatory, but too many people think mainstream providers do their best to keep your messages private. On the opposite, they do what their can to read them, attracting cybercriminals at the same time.
  • Hiding all metadata. As mentioned above, this is less informative but still dangerous data to lose to cybercriminals. If they already have something, adding a device and web browser info might just do the trick for them.
  • Privacy-friendly storage. Even if nobody has read your Gmail inbox yet, they just might in the near future. Therefore, choosing a secure email that’s located in a country with no data-retention laws and far away from the Five Eyes Alliance should give you less to worry about.
  • No data sharing. Data has become more important than ever. Corporations pay huge sums knowing that they’ll end up earning money. So the question is – are you fine with giving it away for free and see it used for personalized ads?

FAQ

Which email provider is the most secure?

At the moment, ProtonMail is the most secure option. It has everything that a secure email needs and then some. Plus, you can try the free version before committing to the premium option.

Is ProtonMail safer than Gmail?

Yes. First of all, it doesn’t scan your inbox for keywords and whatnot. Secondly, ProtonMail has end-to-end encryption and a privacy-friendly location in Switzerland. Finally, it has both free and paid versions which are safer than Gmail.

Why would I encrypt my emails?

It depends on whether you want someone else reading them. Encryption makes it way harder to do so. Without it, you also put your contacts in danger as they may end up on databases for sending spam or be individually attacked by cybercriminals using other methods.

Which free secure email is the best?

Free or paid, the answer is the same – ProtonMail. The provider is in Switzerland, a country with strict privacy protection and anybody should think twice before messing with that. Furthermore, it has a great free and premium version, both full of features.

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40 comments
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  1. Theresa

    Proton Mail is associated with CERN and it’s scientists? That’s pretty scary! That puts my confidence level of this company at zero.


  2. Aaahhh

    No mention of Runbox, GMX or Startmail?

    Also, an important distinction for business users is which of these is best for managing a high volume of email, versus low volume. ProtonMail and Tuta seem best for low volume. Same with overall UX compared to incumbents such as Gmail and Outlook.com. Interested in what other people think on this issue, including use of POP, IMAP and SMTP, and third party email clients such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Canarymail, etc.

    Also, Countermail requires invite code from another user. Talk about a dumb business practice. Apparently they also wish to starve?


  3. Cookie

    Attempted Proton today, 1) My Credit Card payment to them was declined and cancelled due to payment to Switzerland, got it fixed. 2) Import of Yahoo contacts only shows names with no email addresses. Has to be put in manually. Opened the CSV file in Excel and the email names were listed. 3) Names stored in contacts are by first name only. Attachments open well and email sent and received with no problem.


  4. Elizabeth Cunneff

    No mention of cost? Surely these aren’t all free.


    1. avatar
      Nadin Bhatt Author

      Hello, Elizabeth. Thanks for pointing that out. We’ll add the prices in our next update. Have a nice day!


  5. 4yourinfo

    Protonmail asked for either a phone number, or other e-mail address when I attempted to sign up.
    No go for me. 11/23/20


  6. gurglin

    I forgot to mention Mailo.com. Despite being a France-based provider, it seems to be one of the best around.


  7. Gurglin

    Hi Nadin,

    And thanks for the extensive list. I would like to add some other providers that are focussed on security and privacy:

    – Librem Mail (https://librem.one/ ) but that is not free

    https://riseup.net/it/email , although you need to get an invitation from them (and I did not get any…)

    https://ctemplar.com/ (you need to get an invitation code from them, but that does not seem difficult). It is based in Iceland, which is great, in terms of security. However, the free account has many restrictions, while both web version and app are very buggy.

    – Disroot Email (https://disroot.org/en/services/email). Based in the Netherlands, it has a difficult access system.

    Hope it helps


  8. JB Moon

    Why did DuckDuck Go get a D rating?


  9. ibnMuhammad

    Anyone serious about privacy should take a look at:
    https://www.privacytools.io/providers/email/

    By the way, although Fastmail claim to respect privacy, emails are not stored in encrypted form, so anyone of their staff could access it. And worst of all, their data centre is located in privacy-hostile USA, again, open to mass surveillance by the government. And since Fastmail is an Australian company, they are in the “Five Eyes” circle – they willingly comply with orders to hand over customer data and take part in “Privacy Shield” to hand over data to the American government without notifying individuals.

    I’m also unsure about Zoho, since it’s an Indian company, and as people are aware, the Indian gov has more recently become a supporter of fascism. See also #BoycottZoho hashtag for dirty info on their CEO.


    1. Jennifer

      Yes- wouldn’t you not want to stay away from email services based in the 5, 9 or 14 Eyes countries?


  10. Jim

    Cox email accounts are very vulnerable to hackers, who are able to change the passwords of the cox account holders. I guess that is why Cox is abandoning its email service as a product. How well are the passwords/pin numbers/security question answers protected in these 10 “top” email service companies?


  11. Nemo

    This is great, but a comparison table of features would be really helpful to discern between all of them.


  12. Carla Foster

    Thanks for the great analysis. I recently attended a presentation on “big tech” and email security and so I began looking for alternatives to gmail. (D rating on DuckDuck Go). I may be a retired, home user, but these days security is important to everyone. I’m pouring through the options here to select one; obviously the business related providers would not apply, but what a great resource! Thanks.


    1. Pilgrim

      D rating on DuckDuck Go … Does that mean they are bad??? I’ve liked them (ANY alternative to Google is a relief!) so far .. but if you have any better suggestions for non-Google-related servers like DDG, please – fire away and let me know! – Looking for safe, free, email too! – Thanks!


      1. Jarame

        I think he meant that Gmail got a D rating from DDG. Somebody can correct me if I’m wrong.


  13. Tom Ciruncle

    Scryptmail.com is closing operations.


  14. Ore B

    Nice article btw, I was using Gmail for decade+ and decided to switch to Mailfence last year. Nothing to complain about this guy. Their interface was a bit outdated but since last year but they have updated and it looks pretty cool and modern. Besides the email, they also offer some cool features like Calendar, Document, Group and even Chat.


  15. Joe B.

    Any reason(s) you did not include StartMail to your list ? ? ?


    1. avatar
      Nadin Bhatt Author

      Hi there Joe,

      We’re constantly updating our articles to make sure we’re giving our readers the most up-to-date information. We’ll certainly look into StartMail and see if it fits the bill.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      -Nadin


  16. Turtle

    I’ve been thinking about switching from Yahoo since they keep failing at security, so this list is exactly what I needed! Thanks!


    1. avatar
      Nadin Bhatt Author

      Yup, we definitely recommend choosing any of these alternatives on this list. Good luck!


  17. Flora Dunbar

    Healthcare providers must use security email services that I offer a business associate agreement. I know that Hushmail offers this option. Do any of the other top rated providers do so?


    1. avatar
      Nadin Bhatt Author

      Hi there,

      Besides HushMail, LuxSci and ProtonMail are HIPAA compliant as well. Thanks for reading!

      -Nadin


      1. Sofia

        LuxSci is based in North America…not sure I would trust it.


        1. avatar
          Nadin Bhatt Author

          It’s a valid point, although perhaps somewhat overplayed.

          -Nadin


  18. MonkeyJoe

    i believe neither Mailfence nor ProtonMail strips out email metadata(ip addresses, subject line, sender info)


    1. Eileen

      ProtonMail removes the IP address from all outgoing mail.


      1. Sofia

        Hi!
        What about other porviders? Do they remove IP address from outgoing mail?
        Thank you.

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