Best alternatives to Gmail to protect your privacy
While Gmail is the go-to email service for many due to its user-friendly interface, the way it deals with user privacy is concerning. As the role of Google grows, more and more email users are starting to look for alternatives.
In this article, we will share the best emailing platforms to use instead of Gmail. Without further ado, let’s see what’s so concerning about Gmail, and what other platforms users could opt for instead.
Short on time? Today’s best Gmail alternatives
- ProtonMail – best email for encrypted communication
- Zoho Mail – best easy-to-use email service
- StartMail – best private email for novice users
- Tutanota – best email for privacy-conscious
- GMX – the biggest Gmail competitor
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Gmail privacy concerns: reasons to use more secure email alternative
While Gmail is the world’s favorite email service due to its user-friendliness and integrations, when it comes to privacy, Gmail users suffer.
Gmail users have had their privacy put at risk various times. The most famous case took place in 2018, when a year after Google’s announcement that it would stop scanning user emails for targeted ads, the Wall Street Journal published an article proving otherwise.
According to the Wall Street Journal, hundreds of third-party app developers received access to scan and share data from users’ inboxes.
By scanning Gmail users’ inboxes, third-party apps started offering automated travel itinerary suggestions, price comparisons, and more. Google did not comment on the case immediately, and this case proved how vulnerable free email accounts like Gmail are to being compromised. Therefore, looking for an alternative email service is something every Internet user should at least consider.
Aside from privacy concerns, here are the main reasons to look for a more secure email service:
- Gmail only allows 10 GB of storage space
- It doesn’t have end-to-end encryption on emails
- It’s based in the US
- It doesn’t offer anonymous sign-up and payment alternatives
Best Gmail alternatives for keeping your emails private
To avoid putting your most sensitive information at risk, consider using alternative email services. When choosing a reliable Gmail alternative, make sure it offers at least some of the following:
- End-to-end encryption.
- Anonymous payment options.
- Privacy-friendly jurisdiction.
- Open source code.
- Personal information-free sign-up.
- No ads.
- Custom domains for businesses.
In the list below, you’ll find the best alternatives to Gmail available today.
1. ProtonMail - best email for encrypted communication
ProtonMail was founded back in 2013, and today it is one of the best known Gmail alternatives. As it hosts its servers in Switzerland, user data is safe under strict Swiss privacy laws.
Privacy-friendly location aside, the service itself offers end-to-end encryption to make sure that no one else reads your emails. It also works cross-platform, so you can send secure emails even to the users who use other providers.
What’s important to know is that all new users get 500 MB of storage free, and if additional storage space is needed, they can opt for one of the three Premium plans. That way, you can expand your storage up to 20 GB and use custom domains.
- To create an account, users don’t have to provide any personal information
- Software installation is not needed
- Emails are protected with end-to-end encryption
- The service is open source
- Email subject lines are not encrypted
- Customer support is limited on the free plan
2. Zoho Mail - best easy-to-use email service
Created with a focus on businesses, Zoho Mail also offers its services to individuals. You might have heard about their password manager, but they also offer a secure email service.
Your mailbox comes equipped with end-to-end encryption support for S/MIME, but it also uses SSL or TLS. To increase your mailbox safety, you can add two-factor authentication via Touch ID, TOTP’s, or other means. However, if convenience is just as important to you, they have apps for most platforms with calendar and notes integrations.
When facing any issue related to your Zoho Mail account, you can rely on 24/7 customer support. Opting for this email service, you get to take advantage of their top-notch security and privacy features, as well as a reliable 99.9% uptime.
When choosing this Gmail alternative, expect to get up to 1 TB storage, which is more than other Gmail alternatives tend to offer.
- Getting a custom domain email for your business is very easy
- Integration with Zoho CRM for better sales management
- 10 GB for document storage
- To get more than 5 GB of storage, you’ll need to opt for a paid plan
- Social media contacts are not imported
3. StartMail – best user-friendly email service
SmartMail is very comparable to Gmail. It provides a polished user experience with full PGP integration if you're privacy-conscious. This means that you can privately communicate with other users that also use PGP.
This isn't a true end-to-end encryption setup, as it's only implemented server-side. However, it should be safe enough for most usage cases. You can even add features like two-factor authentication to increase the overall security of your account.
The email also has fully integrated burner emails. If you want to create an online account somewhere and you're worried about spam, you can use them instead of your proper address. That can also be useful for online stores, as well.
The major drawback when compared to Gmail is that the service has no proprietary mobile apps. It does support IMAP and SMTP. With them, you'll be able to retrieve emails through Apple Mail or Outlook.
You can test the service with a 30-day free trial. It includes 5 emails/day cap and 10 GB of encrypted cloud storage.
- PGP support
- Burner emails
- 10 GB cloud storage
- No mobile apps
- No free version
4. Tutanota - best email for privacy-conscious
Tutanota is widely known for being the first email service to offer end-to-end encryption. It was founded back in 2011 in Germany, and now has millions of users worldwide.
A great deal of its popularity is because its software is open-source, and anyone can inspect its source code on GitHub. This transparency helps a great deal and makes this service trustworthy.
Moreover, Tutanota follows a business model that relies on user donations and Premium subscriptions solely. The company excludes earning money through advertisements.
It’s one of the top choices for international activists and journalists dealing with sensitive information and fighting for privacy. Tutanota also offers a business plan that helps NGOs and organizations ensure private and secure internal communication.
When users get their Tutanota email, they get 1 GB of storage. However, due to email compression, free storage increases to 10 GB.
- End-to-end encryption on emails and calendar
- Top-notch security
- End-to-end encryption
- Open source
- No ads
- To get higher-quality services, you need to upgrade to paid plans
5. GMX - the biggest Gmail competitor
Based in Germany, Global Mail Exchange (GMX) is a reliable Gmail alternative. As it was founded back in 1997, it offers time-tested and high-quality services.
For protection, it uses TLS/SSL, the same type of encryption that Gmail uses to protect your emails while they’re in transit. Unlike Gmail, however, your emails won’t be scanned for keywords to be used for advertising purposes later.
Together with a mailbox, users get to take advantage of a free calendar, spam filter, and foolproof antivirus. As GMX now has over 11 million active users, it stands out as one of the biggest competitors to Gmail.
After getting a GMX account, users can enjoy 65 GB of storage space per one account. Therefore, if you need more storage space, you can always create another GMX account. Plus, the maximum email attachment size is 50 MB, so there are fewer restrictions if you’re coming from a Gmail account.
- A user can create up to 10 email accounts
- Attachments that are up to 50 MB are supported
- An online address book is included
- Interface could be more user-friendly
- 2FA is not supported
6. Mailbox.org - the biggest email storage
Founded back in 2014 in Germany, Mailbox is a well-known Gmail alternative for both individuals and businesses. Its users get an ad-free and protected emailing experience, as well as a built-in calendar, cloud storage, and contact lists.
When registering for this service, you don’t have to provide any personal details. It also applies to paid plans as well, so you can pay anonymously.
In terms of security, your emails have SSL/TLS encryption. There’s also support for PGP, so you’ll be able to maintain the privacy of your communications.
What’s great about Mailbox is that it offers email inboxes that are easy-to-remember and are recognizable worldwide. Most importantly, a strong focus on privacy and security sets Mailbox apart from its competitors.
As Mailbox.org operates on a pre-paid credit scheme, you get to choose how much storage you need. You can get 100 GB of mail storage and 2 TB of cloud storage, max.
- Personal information is not needed to create an account
- Third-party email clients are supported
- Emails are stored in two separate servers
- Users’ IP addresses are logged (however, they are deleted a few days later).
7. iCloud Mail - the best option for Apple users
There’s nothing more anti-Google than going with Apple. Their iCloud Mail is an optional part of your iCloud account, which you must create to use any Apple device fully. Windows users will need to install iTunes to set up an account, and they won’t be able to access their email via an app if they don’t own an iPhone. Keep this in mind.
In true Apple fashion, their apps have a user-friendly interface, making it easy to transition from Gmail. While this email service is not packed with exceptional features, it is a reliable platform to use. It will be an excellent alternative to Gmail for everyone using Apple devices and willing to increase their privacy online.
Just like opting for Outlook, you get 5 GB of free storage. It would be enough for the basic internet user, but we would like to see the storage space increased.
- No ads
- Compatible with all Apple devices
- User-friendly interface
- Could have more advanced features
- POP3 service is not included
8. Yahoo! Mail - the most similar service to Gmail
Just like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail is an email synonym for many. As of today, it has over 200 million users. As Yahoo! Mail has an interface similar to Gmail’s, it’s an excellent email service to opt for if you’d like a smooth transition.
Previously, Yahoo! allowed creating an account with an international and national domain (e.g., @yahoo.fr or @yahoo.es). However, currently, you can only create an account using the international @yahoo.com domain.
Compared to Gmail and other competitors on the market, Yahoo! Mail provides its users with 1 TB of storage space, which is more than enough even for the neediest users. However, it also has many of the same problems Gmail has in terms of privacy.
To make matters even worse, they have even experienced a severe hack in the past. So, if you’re very picky about the safety measures that your email service uses, take note.
- Excellent customization
- User-friendly interface
- Large attachments are supported
- Full of ads
- Spam issues
9. FastMail - the best ad-free option
Fastmail focuses on providing both individuals and organizations with high-quality paid email accounts. The company is located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and now offers its services in over 30 languages. Back in 2010, Fastmail was acquired by Opera Software only later to become an independent organization.
If you’re looking for a minimalistic email service, Fastmail is your best pick! In a sense, it's one of the best Gmail alternatives as it is completely ad-free. However, do keep in mind that your messages are stored in unencrypted form and in one of the worst locations when it comes to privacy.
When you opt for the Basic plan, you get 2 GB of storage space per user. With the Standard plan, you get to 25 GB, and with the Professional plan 100 GB of storage space. Those who opt for the latter plan can also take advantage of unlimited archiving space.
- Great spam filter
- User-friendly interface
- It’s a paid service
- Not the best for advanced users
10. Posteo - lightweight, but secure email provider
The last Gmail alternative we offer today is Posteo. This email service is in Berlin, Germany, and it is known for offering paid email accounts for both individuals and businesses.
This open-source Gmail alternative is a great choice for those seeking a safer emailing experience. It is packed with top-notch security features, including server-side email encryption. When your emails are in transition, it uses TLS to make sure that no one can benefit from intercepting them. There’s even support for S/MIME or OpenPGP.
With one account, you can set up different aliases as if you had separate email addresses. This helps to minimize spam and annoying newsletters. It also makes your mailbox a lot tidier and more organized.
When opting for Posteo, you get 2 GB of email storage space. If you ever need more, you can purchase additional gigabytes up to a maximum of 20 GB.
- Highly affordable email service
- Email metadata can also be encrypted
- POP3 included
- Ad-free service
- No spam folder
- Lack of custom domains
Altogether, Gmail’s privacy problems are a good reason to look for alternatives. What you have to decide is how advanced you want your new mailbox to be, and whether you’d like a minimal service or one that offers a lot of customization options. To learn how to delete your Gmail account for good, read our guide.
What is more, if you want to dive deep into understanding how to send an anonymous email, read our article here.
Is Gmail the best mailbox you can use?
It depends on what you're looking for. Gmail is undoubtedly the most popular email service today. They have plenty of storage and offer a full suite of features along with their email account. However, in the privacy department, they are one of the worst.
What is the safest email service?
Safe email services use encryption, privacy-friendly, and don't serve you ads. Usually, this combination means that the service is also paid. So, if you're looking for a safe mailbox, look for any service that matches this criterion.
Can I create an anonymous Gmail account?
Gmail isn't an anonymous service by design. Over the years, they've given users more choice in terms of what you want to share with them. However, they run a big business whose primary revenue is to sell ads. This extends to your email account.
Can someone read my email?
Most email providers have methods to protect your emails while they're in transit. However, the problem is when the emails are stored in an unencrypted form in your providers' servers. If your provider uses ads, they may scan your emails for particular keywords to better tailor them to you. Which is still a breach of your privacy.