The 10 most secure email providers of 2022

Ethan Payne
Ethan Payne | Writer
Last updated: September 14, 2022
logos of secure email providers
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If you’re looking for a trustworthy email provider, finding the right service isn’t always easy. Plenty of companies claim to be secure email providers but actually have numerous security flaws, letting hackers and phishers wreak havoc.

But even well-known providers cannot give you complete 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.

Combine secure email with a VPN for flawless digital security
A VPN encrypts your entire web traffic, making it impossible for snoopers to monitor your emails and other online activities. Get NordVPN, the best available virtual private network, for only $3.29/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 pairs perfectly with Proton VPN. It has end-to-end encryption, up to 500 GBs of storage, and 2-factor authentication.

Top 10 most secure email services

Popular (and unreliable) email services are free of charge because they make ends meet via ads. However, they may scan your inbox for keywords to provide relevant ads you’re more likely to click on.

This is why we recommend using premium, aka paid email providers. Then you can be certain your data isn’t collected against your will. Luckily, frugal netizens can utilize the free plans of some of these providers if they don’t mind a fair number of limitations.

Read our brief overviews of the safest email providers below and check out the complete reviews for more detailed information.

1. ProtonMail

ProtonMail is arguably the most well-known secure email service, and for good reason, too. Firstly, it has a solid free plan with end-to-end (E2E) encryption, 500MB of storage, a 150 message limit, plus 3 folders and labels. Meanwhile, the paid plans combine a staggering number of security features that go beyond email protection.

ProtonMail screenshot

✔️Based in Switzerland✔️Open-source
✔️End-to-end encrypted❌Small amount of storage on the free plan

Investing $4.99/month in the Mail Plus plans unlocks 15 GB of total storage, up to 10 different email addresses, 1 custom email domain, and an unlimited number of daily messages, folders, labels, and custom filters. Premium users can also create contact groups for convenient email sending to a large number of users (up to 100 per group). Plus, you can even set up auto-replies.

The Mail Plus plan includes Proton Drive and Proton Calendar. Keep in mind that your 15 GB of storage space is shared between these tools. If that doesn’t seem like enough, consider the Proton Unlimited plan, which starts at $11.99/month, grants 500 GB of cloud storage, and even unlocks Proton VPN.

Learn more by reading our complete ProtonMail review.

2. Tutanota

Tutanota is a freemium and open-source email provider from Germany. The service has a limited free plan and an impressive selection of premium plan options. The cheapest plans start at 1 euro per month, although can go up to 7 euros per month if you need the complete set of features.

Tutanota screenshot

✔️Has a free plan✔️Open-source
✔️Flexible premium subscriptions❌Based in Germany (Five Eyes alliance)

Non-paying customers are limited to 1 GB of storage, Tutanota-only domains, limited search, and only one calendar. Meanwhile, investing the bare minimum unlocks one custom domain, unlimited search, multiple calendars, and 5 alias addresses. You can upgrade storage space separately if that’s the only thing you think is lacking on the free plan. Plus, adding users is also an option if you want to share the subscription with some colleagues.

The priciest business plan includes previously-mentioned features plus multiple custom domains and calendars, email templates, autoresponder, and much more. Use Tutanota’s pricing calculator to find out how much your desired tools would cost.

Learn more by reading our complete Tutanota review.

3. FastMail

FastMail advertises itself as a privacy-respecting alternative to Gmail. Instead of paying with your privacy, you commit to a subscription and save yourself from surveillance, tracking, ads, and other Google practices many are familiar with.

FastMail screenshot

✔️30-day free trial✔️Mail import for easy transitioning
✔️All-in-one app❌No free plan

The Basic FastMail plan starts at $3/month and includes the essentials. For starters, there are no ads or tracking, fully-featured calendars, Masked Email, and over 600 alias addresses. Furthermore, you can add more users to a subscription and each one has 2 GB of storage.

If that’s not enough, there’s the Standard plan. It costs $5/month and increases storage capacity to 30 GB. Additionally, you can use custom domains and different email apps that suit your needs better. The final Professional plan unlocks the retention archive to safekeep your email forever.

Although FastMail doesn’t have a free plan, you can test it out without commitment using the 30-day free trial.

Learn more by reading our complete FastMail review.

4. HushMail

Hushmail is one of the oldest secure email providers available. It was founded in 1998 and offers plans for personal use, lawyers, healthcare specialists, and small businesses. The service previously offered free plans, but these have since been eliminated.

The personal use plan costs $49.98 annually and includes up to 10 GB of storage per account. Plus, you can easily refund the service, thanks to the 60-day money-back guarantee. The service uses OpenPGP encryption to secure your conversations. Additionally, you get an unlimited number of email aliases.

Hushmail screenshot

✔️OpenPGP encryption✔️HIPAA-compliant
✔️2FA support❌No free plan

The HIPPA-compliant Healthcare plan costs $19.99/month or $219 annually. You get up to 5 encrypted email accounts, secure web forms, and the ability to customize your domain name. Moreover, integration with electronic signatures is available for your convenience.

The most popular Small Business plan costs $5.99/month per user and grants each one 10 GB of storage. Communication between employees is automatically encrypted, while outsiders get on-demand encryption. Your company can use existing email addresses and easily add new users with HushMail’s administrative tools.

Learn more by reading our complete HushMail Review.

5. Zoho Mail

Zoho Mail is primarily meant for business users, but that doesn’t mean regular people can’t use the service. Best of all, the generous free plan gives interested customers the opportunity to try out the service without commitment. And once you’re ready to dive in, prices start at only $1/month.

✔️Free plan with 5 GB of storage✔️End-to-end encryption
✔️Various collaboration tools❌Focused on B2B clients

The cheapest Mail Lite plan allows you to manage multiple email domains, grants offline access, IMAP/POP access, 250 MB attachment size, and much more. The Mail Premium plan goes up to $4/month and increases attachment sizes to 1 GB, allows you to customize email retention policies, white labeling, and digital signature support.

The Workplace plan is an all-in-one solution for businesses with included online file management, spreadsheets, presentation software, instant messaging, intranet, and other essential tools for collaboration. Lastly, you can get familiar with any plan using the 15-day free trial.

Learn more by reading our complete Zoho Mail review.

6. StartMail

From the creators of the well-known Startpage search engine comes StartMail. The service touts absolute privacy, zero ads, top-notch encryption, and solid security features. Unsurprisingly, all of these benefits come at a starting price of $3/month. Luckily, there’s a 7-day free trial if you need a test run first.

Startmail screenshot

✔️7-day free trial✔️PGP encryption
✔️Unlimited aliases❌No free version

The Personal plan includes 10 GB of storage, unlimited aliases with the Starmail domain, IMAP email program support, and inbox layout customization. The service complies with GDPR and wipes away ads and trackers from emails. Plus, you can enable 2FA for improved security.

As the name suggests, the Custom Domain plan allows you to alter your email address with a preferred domain over StartMail. Naturally, the unlimited aliases feature remains with your custom domain.

Learn more by reading our complete StartMail review.

7. Posteo

Posteo should appeal to eco-focused individuals. The provider touts a sustainable and green-powered service, plus cheap subscription costs. There’s no free plan, but you can customize your subscription to best suit your needs.

The basic plan starts at 1 Euro per month and provides 2 GB of storage, 50 MB attachment size, IMAP support, two aliases, and IP stripping. You can pay extra if you need bonus storage space or aliases. Plus, switching to this provider is made easy using various migration tools.

Posteo screenshot

✔️Customizable pricing plan✔️Supports E2E and PGP encryption
✔️Runs on sustainable energy❌No free options

Posteo uses open-source software to maintain its service. Plus, there are no ads on the website or email client because the provider doesn’t collaborate with advertising agencies. Best of all, the efficient spam and virus filter will keep your inbox clean from unwanted messages.

Learn more by reading our complete Posteo review.

8. Thexyz

Thexyz is an under-the-radar service from Canada with roughly 40K customers across 100 countries. The provider is perfect if you’re looking for an obscure inbox. Naturally, Thexyz doesn’t have a free plan and relies on premium subscriptions to maintain an ad-free and secure user experience.

Thexyz screenshot

✔️Two-factor authentication✔️OpenPGP support
✔️Unlimited email aliases❌No free options

The Premium Webmail plan starts at $2.95/month and comes packaged with 25 GB of storage, IMAP synchronization support, unlimited aliases, and 50 MB attachments. The second plan adds contact sync and 30 GB of cloud storage to store files. Meanwhile, the most expensive plan includes unlimited email archiving.

New users can sign up using predefined domains or with custom ones. Plus, you can enhance your security using 2FA, while reliable filters will keep spam out of your inbox.

9. CounterMail

CounterMail is a veteran in the secure email provider market. It’s been operating since 2008, and the website design clearly illustrates this. However, the old-school exterior shouldn’t dissuade security enthusiasts.

Countermail screenshot

✔️OpenPGP E2E encryption✔️2FA support
✔️Diskless web servers❌No free plan

The service doesn’t have a free plan and instead requires 6 months or lengthier subscription commitments. Prices start at $3.29/month and include 4 GB of storage, 3 MB attachment sizes, end-to-end encryption with OpenPGP, IMAP support, and diskless servers. You can also expand your storage space by a maximum of 1.75 GB for a whopping $89. The justification for such prices is full disk encryption.

CounterMail includes Safebox, a password manager protected by one master password. Additionally, the service adds protection against MITM (man-in-the-middle) attacks. Lastly, it supports 2FA with a USB drive or authenticator app.

Learn more by reading our complete CounterMail review.

10. Mailfence

Mailfence touts “privacy is a right, not a feature” as its modus operandi. Thankfully, it offers a free plan with OpenPGP encryption, 500 MB for email storage, and another 500 MB for documents.

The Belgian service guarantees an absence of ads and trackers. Plus, it doesn’t cooperate with any third parties, including foreign governments. The Entry plan costs 2.50€/month and increases storage to 5 GB for emails and 12 GB for documents. Additionally, customers gain 10 aliases, POP/IMAP support, and a custom email domain.

Mailfence screenshot

✔️OpenPGP end-to-end encryption✔️Free plan with 500 MB of storage
✔️IMAP support❌No mobile apps

The priciest Ultra plan costs 25€/month and allocates 50 GB for emails and 70 GB for files. Lastly, users gain priority customer support via email or telephone.

Learn more by reading our complete Mailfence review.

Safest email providers: video review

Our YouTube channel is a treasure trove of knowledge about the best tools for security, privacy, and anonymity. Get started with our rundown of the best encrypted email services.

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

Secure email provider comparison

Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of some of the best email providers we described earlier. Hopefully, this will make it easier to pick the most suitable provider for your needs.

ProviderProtonMailTutanotaStartMail
Free versionYesYesNo
Starting price$3.49/month$1/month$4.99/month
E2E encryptionYesYesNo
Email storage space5 GB1 GB10 GB
2FA supportYesYesYes

Try out the best email provider

Do you need a VPN while using a secure email provider?

While our recommended secure email providers are excellent, they’re only one part of a well-rounded cybersecurity stack. Plus, some aren’t perfect and don’t offer complete E2E encryption or IP address protection.

That’s why we urge you to use a secure VPN service to protect your online activities. The most crucial benefit is it protects your entire online traffic, not just email activities. Not only that, you can use it to change your location to access geographically-restricted content from abroad. Additionally, it’s an essential tool for keeping your personal information secure while traveling and using public Wi-Fi.

NordVPN European servers

And just like with email services, picking the correct provider is paramount. We suggest opting for NordVPN, the best overall VPN.

NordVPN
NordVPN
VPNpro rating: 9.6 / 10

What you should look for in secure emails

When reviewing secure emails, we always have a must-have set of features. 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 safest email provider. In addition to that, you can also look for email verifier tools to ensure that you are not receiving emails from fake email addresses.

  • Two-factor authentication. Also known as 2FA, this feat adds an extra layer of protection and is necessary not only for secure emails but for 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 as secure without end-to-end encryption. Without it, third parties can potentially read your email while it’s traveling from server to server toward 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 contrary, they do what they can to read them and serve personalized ads.
  • 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 seeing it used for personalized ads?

Conclusion

We’ve grown accustomed to online services like email and social media being free, but it’s clear that we’re paying with our priceless personal data. That means that the most secure email providers will require a monetary investment to ensure zero reliance on ad revenue.

ProtonMail is our #1 email service, but we urge the most data-conscious users to sign up for a VPN as well. The priciest ProtonMail plan includes Proton VPN, a secure and reliable provider. On the other hand, we recommend avoiding the consolidation of services and choosing NordVPN instead.

Do you think paying for a secure email provider is worth it? Share your opinions by leaving a comment!


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FAQ

What is the most secure private email provider?

ProtonMail is the most secure email provider. It’s located in privacy-respecting Switzerland, grants end-to-end encryption, and uses open-source software. Interested users can get started with the free plan, although a premium subscription provides enormous benefits. Plus, it can include other security products, for example, Proton VPN.

Is Gmail a secure email provider?

Gmail provides solid protection against spam, phishing attacks, and other unwanted messages. However, it doesn’t grant end-to-end encryption to prevent third parties from intercepting and reading your communication. Plus, it relies on ad revenue to stay afloat.

Is ProtonMail safer than Gmail?

Yes. First of all, it doesn’t scan your inbox to provide predictive text and other “benefits”.. Secondly, ProtonMail has end-to-end encryption and a privacy-friendly location in Switzerland. Lastly, it uses the premium plan to avoid relying on ad revenue.

Why would I encrypt my emails?

Encryption makes your emails unreadable to third parties. The most secure email providers encrypt your messages on the servers they’re stored on and even in transit. Additionally, you can use a virtual private network to mask your place of origin, making it impossible to track your communications entirely.

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.

Top category VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
Excellent security
Flawless privacy practices
Fastest speeds
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.
46 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.


    1. ibnMuhammad

      Interesting, what is scary about physicists / scientists behind the founding of a human-rights and privacy-focused company? This is exactly what I would expect from highly educated people, particularly after the Snowden revelations. The founder of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg, is also educated in physics from MIT.


  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?


    1. GMsuX

      GMX is garbage. They block your account just for using a VPN.


  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

      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. Jack

      I love to filter my emails in categories or subboxes…worked at first with FM, but all of my banking stuff ends up in my housing box; my religious box is now my regular Inbox. Filtering algorythm is very buggy, constantly changes. Because of their bugs, I am thinking of switching, but customer service is at least responsive, and I like the storage (paid at 30GB)–not very many hosts offer that.


    2. 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. Jack

        a few years ago, DDG got an awful rating, I think due to the insecure background of the owner…I use them for public scans…not many private search engines out there. Many base their result algorythms on Yahoo and GoOgle searches–very deceptive.


      2. 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

      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

      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

      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

          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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