ProtonMail Review

Last updated: June 10, 2021

ProtonMail is the epitome of secure email. It delivers excellent security and privacy without sacrificing usability. You can try ProtonMail for free on all major platforms.

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This ProtonMail review will show you why it’s the most secure email service. It will reveal the inner workings of ProtonMail and what kind of features it offers. Also, you’ll find the answer to the most frequently asked question – is ProtonMail safe?

ProtonMail goes above and beyond your regular free email. It protects your personal details and encrypts your messages to ensure that no third party intercepts or reads them.

Compared to ProtonMail, a standard email provider can offer a limited amount of protection. It might be able to protect your email while it’s still on their server but cannot do anything as soon as it’s sent. Secure email services ensure that your message travels the whole distance safely.

ProtonMail: a quick review

Security5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Privacy5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Features & ease-of-use4.5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Overall4.8/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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What is ProtonMail?

ProtonMail is a web-based secure email service created by a group of engineers, developers, and scientists in Switzerland. The group is passionate about privacy and protecting the civil liberties of individuals online. The creators used their technical expertise to develop a safe and anonymous email system, including other products, such as Proton VPN.

ProtonMail servers are in Europe’s most secure data center, 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) under solid rock. The company is already subject to the strict privacy laws in Switzerland and its mission to provide the utmost security. This equates to your emails being physically and legally absolutely secure.

The founding team at ProtonMail met while they worked at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. This group of technical-minded individuals started the company thanks to a record-breaking crowdfunding scheme. Since the company was founded in 2013, it has become the world’s largest secure email provider with more than one million users.

ProtonMail pros and cons

+ Pros:

  • Open-source and independently-audited
  • Privacy-friendly jurisdiction
  • Great free version
  • No-logs
  • Supports 2FA
  • Apps for all major platforms
  • ProtonMail Bridge allows using other mail clients

– Cons:

  • Doesn’t allow bulk sending
  • No POP3 support

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Is ProtonMail secure?

ProtonMail uses the latest research and technology to ensure complete security for your emails. Messages are fully encrypted using open source code for complete transparency. The research team is constantly looking at technological advances and encourages others to contribute to make this the most secure email service in the world.

ProtonMail security features include:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • Open source cryptography
  • Zero access to user data

The Visionary plan also includes Proton VPN. Together with ProtonMail, it provides great synergy for protecting your information online.

Email encryption

With the help of end-to-end encryption, ProtonMail blocks third-party access to your emails. It means that only the sender and the receiver can read the contents of the email. What’s more, even ProtonMail employees cannot look inside your mailbox.

The best part about ProtonMail encryption is that you can send secure emails even to those who use regular mail clients, such as Gmail. They will receive the link to the encrypted message and will be able to decipher it with a password.

Two-factor authentication

Another important security feature of ProtonMail is two-factor authentication or 2FA. It requires your account password (something that you know) and your smartphone (something that you have). Even if someone manages to get hold of your login information, they still need your phone for access.

ProtonMail support multiple authenticator apps, such as Google Authenticator, FreeOTP, and Authy. All three are available on Android and iOS and take just a few minutes to set up. You can also install them on multiple devices, which allows you to authenticate either with your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Open source cryptography

ProtonMail is committed to staying open-source and doing independent security audits. It means that its apps and the cryptography are thoroughly reviewed and have no backdoors associated with closed-source projects.

This is by far the best model for a secure email because virtually anyone can check the code for vulnerabilities. There’s even a bug-bounty program running that encourages security researches all over the world to help ProtonMail stay secure.

Furthermore, using the OpenPGP standard allows sending encrypted messages directly to any mail service that implements it. These include Mailfence and Hushmail, but the most popular ones can do that with the right plug-in.

Zero access to user data

As mentioned earlier, ProtonMail has no access to your mailbox content. That’s because the encryption happens on the client’s side using a key that’s unavailable to anyone else.

What’s more, you don’t need to enter your personal details when creating your account, which further enhances anonymity. Finally, ProtonMail has no way of tracking your IP that could be tied with your activities.

Is ProtonMail anonymous?

Rest assured that ProtonMail is completely anonymous. You don’t need to enter any personal information to sign up for an account. The company does not retain any IP logs so your IP address is not linked to your email account in any way.

Your internet service provider and not even the government can access your email messages. The company feels strongly that both individuals and organizations have a right to communicate privately. It aims to make email messages as secure and private as possible.

If you still want to enhance privacy, consider using the Tor browser to check your ProtonMail inbox. However, many experienced users don’t go on the internet without connecting to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) first. This not only helps to anonymize them, but it also encrypts their information, often with military-grade encryption.

So, using ProtonMail with Proton VPN or any other reliable service can offer you even greater protection. If you are considering getting a VPN, you can start by checking our top 10 VPNs list.

ProtonMail features

In addition to being arguably the most secure email provider, ProtonMail also has a number of useful features that may come in handy in daily use. Not all of them are available in the free version, and some require getting the priciest Visionary plan.

Encrypted Contacts

You can import contacts from the current email service in vCard or .csv format. All contacts are encrypted, but ProtonMail can see them so that it can offer extra functionality, such as spam filtering. However, paid users can also add phone numbers and addresses, which are available to you only.

Self-destructing messages

ProtonMails allow you to set the date after which the email you’ve sent will be deleted from the recipient’s mailbox. You can set the deadline from hours to weeks. This actually works not only for fellow ProtonMail users but for any other service too.

ProtonMail Bridge

Switching to ProtonMail doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your favorite email client. With ProtonMail Bridge, paid users can continue using Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird, or any other client that supports IMAP and SMTP.

Labels, filters, and folders

This set of features allows paid users to organize the mailbox with labels, filters, and folders. Labeling doesn’t affect the folder structure, which means that you can add or remove labels without “physically” moving the emails themselves.

Filtering in ProtonMail is done by using Conditions and Actions. This works similarly to setting custom rules on most apps with the formula “If X is Y and/or A is B, then C.” The spam filters work in a similar fashion.

Plans and pricing

ProtonMail has four pricing plans: Free, Plus, Visionary, and Professional. The paid plans give you the option to pay annually or monthly. Here’s the list of ProtonMail prices:

  • Plus – monthly, $5/month
  • Plus – $48 annually, $4/month
  • Visionary – monthly, $30/month
  • Visionary – $288 annually, $24/month
  • Professional – monthly, $8/month per user
  • Professional – 75$ annually, $6.25/month per user

ProtonMail pricing plans

You can pay by credit card or PayPal.

Is it easy-to-use?

There’s a web-based version of ProtonMail available, plus apps for Android and iOS mobile devices. There is no software download required for the web version. Your account syncs between devices while maintaining complete security. The apps are currently available in up to 14 different languages.

There’s a sending limit for the free accounts. You should send no more than 50 emails per hour and 150 emails per day. This is intended to prevent bulk emailing, spamming, and returned emails to maintain the integrity of ProtonMail. Using your account normally without any spam reports or upgrading to a paid account will increase your sending limits.

ProtonMail doesn’t offer POP3 services for forwarding mail from another address. Perhaps the company simply wants you to switch over to its service completely. It also encourages users to recommend the email service to their friends to reduce sending limits and build a network of users.

For professional and personal use

If you need to use a personal email address for work-related correspondence, ProtonMail is a great option. Any sensitive information sent via email regarding your work or clients is protected. You can send passwords or financial information without fear of being compromised.

ProtonMail Professional offers a secure email service for organizations. Benefiting from the same encryption as the regular email accounts but with more storage, users, and admins permitted. Encrypted emails help organizations to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

In July 2020, the ProtonMail team announced the upcoming launch of ProtonDrive. With it, users will be able to store their files in one place, as well as easily upload and download them when needed. ProtonDrive will have end-to-end encryption to make sure that your data is well protected.

How to delete ProtonMail

If you would like to delete your email account, simply go to the Account tab in the Settings menu and choose Delete. You will need to enter your password to confirm you want to delete the account. Be aware that the deletion is final, you cannot restore your account, and none of your data can be recovered later.

ProtonMail vs Gmail

Gmail is one of the most popular free email services in the world, but does it offer the security you are looking for? Let’s take a look at how the secure email service of ProtonMail stacks up against Gmail.

FounderAndy Yen, Wei Sun, and Jason StockmanGoogle
Released20132009, after 5 years of beta testing
Free version availableYesYes
pay for extra storage, domains, or addresses for $1-2/month.
Upgrade to Gmail One starts from $1.99/month, including extra storage and expert Google help.
Mailbox storageFree version: 500 MB
Paid: 20 GB
Free version: 15 GB, shared alongside other Google services
Paid: 100 GB – 2 TB
Max. attachment limit25 MB and 100 attachments25 MB
Security features2-factor authentication sign-in process
End-to-end encryption to ensure complete privacy
Basic password sign-in method
Transport Layer Security (TLS)

ProtonMail was released in 2013. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland, founded by Dr. Andy Yen, a researcher at CERN and was working on particle physics applications. Gmail is owned by Google, it has been around since 2005, and the headquarters are in California, USA.

Free versions are available from both providers on the web and mobile platforms. ProtonMail packages cost $4-24/month, or you can also pay just for extra storage, domains, or addresses for $1-2/month. You can upgrade to Gmail One starting from $1.99/month, including extra storage and expert Google help.

ProtonMail offers 500 MB of encrypted storage with the free version, or you can pay for up to 20 GB. The maximum attachment limit is 25 MB and 100 attachments. Gmail gives you 15 GB of free storage and has an attachment limit of 25 MB and a standard account. Various additional storage packages are offering up to 20 TB for a monthly fee.

Security features ProtonMail uses a 2-factor authentication sign-in process and end-to-end encryption to ensure complete privacy. Gmail uses a basic password sign-in method and Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt messages when possible. If the email providers of both the sender and the recipient do not use TLS, your email cannot be encrypted by Gmail.


Overall, ProtonMail is an excellent secure email provider. We only have a few small issues with the service, including the sending limits and no POP3 services. We were impressed with the technical team behind the company and the level of security that they offer. The free version will probably be sufficient for most users, and the paid packages offer more storage and features for those who need it.

You may also like to read:


Is ProtonMail safe?

ProtonMail is safe to use. It uses end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication and doesn’t log your data.

Is ProtonMail safer than Gmail?

ProtonMail is much safer than Gmail. ProtonMail uses end-to-end encryption and 2FA, while Gmail offers only basic sign-in and TLS. Finally, ProtonMail has a strict no-logs policy, while Google makes the best of your personal information.

ProtonMail premium, is it worth buying?

Most users will be content with the free ProtonMail version. However, if you need lots of storage or send hundreds of emails each day, upgrading to a Plus plan would be a good idea.

Can ProtonMail be hacked?

Like any other online service, ProtonMail can be hacked. However, the chance of this happening is minimal. This email provider is open-source and undergoes rigorous independent audits, making it way safer than Gmail or any other regular email.

Leave a Reply

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  1. Paul Mujicas

    I like the Proton Suite Mail/ Drive / VPN but their Support lets them down badly.

  2. Rafail Veli

    I cannot seem to log on to my protonmail account. My browser, Brave(Duck Duck Go), says it’s not secure and somebody might be trying to steal passwords and data and this has only recently happened? Any comments to help?

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne

      Hello, Rafail. Have you tried logging in from other browsers? And are you sure that the domain is written correctly? Because I’m not having any issues logging into ProtonMail.

      1. Carol

        Hi Ethan
        I would also like to create a Protonmail account and use it with DuckDuckGo browser.
        Are you saying that this would not be possible?

        1. avatar
          Ethan Payne

          Hello, Carol. It’s totally possible, sorry for any kind of misunderstanding.

  3. David P

    Hey there. Great, informative article! I’ve been using ProtonMail for a bit and love it. (Truth be told as one who has moved around a lot I’m just a tad loath to switch away from Gmail fearing I may lose some older contacts, but this isn’t really an obstacle…just old habits). I’m tech-challenged but use Tor browser on my cell. I may have missed this in the article, but, is there a fee for using the ProntonMail VPN service and can I use it from my pc laptop, or just from my android cell?

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne

      Hey, David. You can check our ProtonVPN review for more details about pricing and compatibility. In essence, you can use it for free on a computer or mobile device. Plus, it doesn’t have any data caps so you’ll be able to use it for free indefinitely.

  4. Sc Purchase

    Thank You Julie. Your concern for equal rights is heartening. Google just censored my email from the US to Europe. They disabled my ability to send it. No real worry since it was not important, but if a 70 year old woman who is a threat to no one can be censored, we’re in trouble.

  5. KW

    Hi! I have just swished over to protonmail and are loving it. However, I really miss a desktop app… Does anyone know if a desktop app is coming or if there is a desktop app I can use. If I understand correctly I could continue using Outlook desktop app, but does that make it less secure? Sorry, if this is a very basic question, I am not very technically literatare 🙂

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne

      Hello there. Premium users can use ProtonMail Bridge to integrate ProtonMail with other desktop email clients, such as Outlook or Thunderbird. Additionally, using a desktop app can actually be more secure than using a web app. 

  6. plpar

    Can I import all my current Yahoo Mail (inbox, drafts, sent) into ProtonMail’s free web based email product?

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne

      Hello there. Yes, you can import everything from Yahoo to ProtonMail with the help of Import Assistant in ProtonMail. Keep in mind that the free version of ProtonMail has a limited amount of storage so make sure that you’re not transferring too much data.

  7. Lin Clunie

    Will I be able to save some emails in folders for long periods of time? ( i.e. for several years). In other words, to use protonmail as an electronic filing cabinet for emails that I do not wish to print but do wish to keep?

    1. avatar
      Ethan Payne

      Hey there, Lin. Emails stored in the Archive folder and other folders should not expire. The only limiting factor is the email storage space. 

  8. Joeythelemur

    What about search? This is something that is used heavily by most email users, including myself, when I need to recall a prior email thread. It’s my understanding that ProtonMail doesn’t index (because it doesn’t access your email content at all) so there’s no search available. Is that true? As much as I’d like to get off of Gmail for privacy concerns, no search would make that very difficult.

    1. avatar
      Jan Youngren

      Hey, Joey. ProtonMail can search by subject lines, sender, recipient, and the time of messages. Additionally, if you’re a paid user of ProtonMail, you can use ProtonMail Bridge to integrate your account to different email clients, for example, Mozilla Thunderbird. This will decrypt your messages locally and allow you to search by message bodies as well.

  9. Christina Bliven

    I want one place for all my contact info such as email, phone number and address in one location and dump gmail. It looks like I can do it in the paid version. The question is for my android phone can the contact see the ProtonMail contacts so I can call and text without going into proton directly? Otherwise I am trying to maintain two contact list. I tried to see if I could pull in like Gmail but maybe in order to add I need to have the paid account first.

    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hello there, Christina. Unfortunately, you won’t see your ProtonMail contacts on the phone contacts app. You will have to go to the app directly. 

  10. black man

    good review but i was wondering, does proton mail offers it users private DMS with contact ? if yes how secure is the process and thank you

    1. avatar
      Jan Youngren

      Hi, black man. You can set up custom DNS domains. I’m sorry but I don’t understand what you mean by “with contact”? As for your last question, I’d say the process is pretty secure. You have to verify your domain with ProtonMail by adding a TXT record with a unique code. Moreover, you’ll be able to choose key strength, which can be 2048-bit or 4096-bit. Then there’s a lot you can do about anti-spoofing – SPF is a must-have, while DKIM and DMARC are recommended.

  11. Ev

    Basic sign-in for google? Last I checked they offered U2F as well which proton still doesn’t (although this is being worked on supposedly).

    This review overall seems to be quite out of date. I was forced to hand over my phone number when signing up for protonmail (granted they hashed it) which is a bit problematic for anyone who doesn’t have a phone number. Also gmail one is now google one.

  12. Cynthia

    Hi, Julie. I currently have Microsoft 365; I have used for years, as well. I have HUNDREDS of contacts which I do not want to loose. How does Protonmail compare to all the features of Microsoft 365 and how many contacts will it hold? I also need to know the easiest way to transfer the contacts to Protonmail, if possible? Also, I get lots and lots of emails everyday; which plan will best meet my needs?


    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hello, Cynthia. Thanks for stopping by. I’m afraid that ProtonMail cannot compete with Microsoft 365 – this is a suite of applications after all. For example, ProtonMail doesn’t have proper Calendar yet. With that being said, Microsoft cannot compare with it in terms of security and privacy.
      Should you decide to switch, importing contacts from Microsoft Outlook or any other IMAP/SMTP client is possible via ProtonMail Bridge.
      Finally, I’d recommend starting with the Plus plan. If the 5 GB storage won’t be enough, you can upgrade to Visionary that gives you 20 GB.
      Have a nice day!

  13. Daniel

    Can AOL emails and contacts be imported to Proton easily?

    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hello, Daniel! This looks like an easy solution how to export contacts from AOL. You can find instructions how to import your contacts to ProtonMail here.

  14. Ron

    The review stated the support was good, my experience has been very different with them. They have a security algorithm which can shut down your account for “Fraud and Abuse” even though no violations occurred, they state this can happen.
    OK, so a false positive has occurred, the support staff even though you ask for the alleged violation, will not respond, nor will they reactivate your account in a timely manner for a false positive.
    It is better to not have a paid account with all of the features at Proton Mail, at lease with a free account, you only lose access, and not your money.
    The account is so secure you cannot use it.

    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hi, Ron. I’m sorry to hear that. It’s the first time I hear about such Fraud and Abuse protocol. Hopefully, you won’t have similar issues in the future.

  15. Don Cinnamond

    Greetings all . . . wanting to dump my connections to Google & gmail. Have a long history of contacts and emails with gmail. Is there an easy to convert these?

    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Dear Don,You bet there is! ProtonMail allows importing contacts from Gmail – learn how to do that. You can also import emails with Import Assistant. Good luck 🙂

  16. Rochelle

    Apologies, I am not very ‘tech literate’, but am very interested in getting away from our gmail and hotmail accounts. Too many ‘missing’ emails and suspicious advertisements based on purchases I’ve made etc. Can you clarify for me please: Currently all of our emails come through my Mac Desktop on the Mac ‘mail’ icon….will Proton be able to do that or will I need to go directly to the Proton website on my desktop to access mail? And on the iphone…similar question….through the apple mail icon or a separate app or the website directly? Just want to clarify ease of use before I start setting up accounts. THANK YOU so much for your help.

    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hey, Rochelle. I totally understand you. With ProtonMail Bridge, you will still be able to use Apple Mail on your Mac. However, for iPhone, you will need to use either webmail or ProtonMail iOS app.

  17. M Pelligrini

    Can I please ask – would I need a mobile phone to simply access a free account (the 2-step verification mentioned) or is that only for accessing encrypted mail? I don’t have/want a mobile phone. Also, with the mailbox limit, what happens when you reach your limit, does it stop receiving mail or start deleting older mail? Apologies if I’m asking very basic/stupid questions, any help appreciated 🙂

    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hello! You don’t have to use 2FA for your ProtonMail account to work. If you run out of storage, you will stop receiving new mail but your old mail won’t be deleted. Therefore, you will have time to decide what to do – increase your storage space or delete some old emails in Trash or other folders.

      1. M Pelligrini

        Thank you for taking the time to reply, Julie, it’s very much appreciated 🙂

        1. Xmen

          Those questions you asked are not stupid at all. The best questions i’ve seen so far.

  18. David Perry

    I just need a simple email to communicate w/ friends and as a place for businesses to reach me. Can I send and receive to yahoo, gmail etc as usual, but w/o encryption? Not sure how this works with this situ.

    1. avatar
      Julie Cole Author

      Hey, David. Thanks for the comment. Yes, you can send unencrypted messages to any other email. In that sense, ProtonMail works like any other mailing service.

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