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ProtonMail review: have we found the most secure email provider in 2021?

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ProtonMail is the world’s largest secure email service. It offers end-to-end encryption and lots of other great security features to keep your communications private. Even the company hosting your emails has no way of reading them, so you can rest assured that they can’t be read by third parties either.

But for all this talk, how secure is ProtonMail? Are there any loopholes? And how much does it cost to sign up? Luckily we have all this info and more in this ProtonMail review.

LIMITED OFFER: Save 20% by getting 1 year of Protonmail now!

Rating:
4.9
Price:from $4.00/month
Free version:Yes
Storage:5–20 GB

Protonmail features, pros and cons

Visit Protonmail to read more about the features

Custom labels

If you value productivity, organizing your mailbox can be tedious if the service developers didn't care for user experience. Many service providers have folder options to group emails, but it may not be enough. To increase their service's flexibility, Protonmail has custom labels that you can add separately from folders. The best part is that you can add emails to labels, and it will not interfere with your folders categorization. Should you decide to remove a label from email, it will not change their folder. Also, if you no longer need a label, you can delete it without second thoughts – it will not delete any emails.

Short domain addresses

If you find the protonmail.com domain daunting, why not make it shorter? You can receive emails to your associated inbox by keeping your mailbox name and switching out the domain name. For example, if your email address is [email protected], you can swap out protonmail.com and instead use pm.me domain [email protected] All users can receive pm.me emails, but replying from pm.me addresses is only reserved for premium users. Plus, this address does not count towards the total limit of addresses you can create with a single account.

Multiple layouts and themes

Previously ProtonMail used to have the only layout option. Looks weren't its particular strength. Though, recently they have redesigned their whole UI. It was a complete revamp which wasn't changed since the start seven years ago when they first launched.

You can select a color theme out of 6 templates. So, whether you prefer darker themes or want to stay with the classics, you will have options to choose from.

protonmail layout options

Secondly, there's an option to customize layout options. It applies to inbox, composer, and icon sizes. All of them can be adjusted independently from one another. You can completely recreate Gmail feel if you're more used to their inbox.

All of these additions make ProtonVPN one of the most customizable and convenient secure email providers.

Quick filters

protonmail quick search bar

ProtonMail has drastically expanded its search capabilities. You can search for particular keywords and email addresses, inboxes, dates, and whether the messages were read or not. This is very convenient since many encrypted email providers don't choose to include the feature.

It's worth mentioning that this feature will help you to some extent. As you can see, you can't search email content. It's because the emails are stored on their servers with zero-knowledge encryption. In turn, they can't be indexed, which also means that they can't be searched.

Keyboard shortcuts

protonmail keyboard shortcuts

If you want to use ProtonMail faster, it might be a good idea to tame their keyboard shortcuts. Using them, you can quickly save drafts, open the previous message, show the original message, etc.

It gives you more flexibility when using ProtonMail. Not to mention, if you stick with it for a longer time, the shortcuts become second nature. They are a bit different from Outlook keyboard shortcuts. Still, they are intuitive enough to pick up even for novice users.

Migration tools

If you're hesitant to jump into the other service because you'd have to start from scratch, this might be a severe drawback. It's especially true for business users who cannot spend the valuable resources at copy-pasting their contacts in the mailboxes one by one. For this reason, Protonmail has developed a proprietary app that allows you to export and import your data from other inboxes like Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo. The feature is only for Plus, Professional, Visionary, and Lifetime accounts.

Free ProtonVPN

When you register for a Protonmail, you also get a free ProtonVPN account. This service enables private and secure internet access through their Virtual Private Network of intermediary servers. It means that you're not browsing the web directly but through the guise of an IP address of one of their servers. Thus, it's one of the best ways to protect your anonymity and privacy when browsing the web. ProtonVPN is popular among people who value their privacy, and it's a great pairing to your encrypted email account.

Two-factor authentication

ProtonMail also adds an additional layer of protection in the form of two-factor authentication. This means that, if someone manages to steal your password, they won’t be able to get into your account unless they also have access to your mobile phone.

For this reason, you’ll need to make sure you’ll always have access to your mobile phone whenever you want to login to your email account before opting to add this in.

In order to enable two-factor authentication, you’ll have to install an authenticator app on your mobile phone. We’d recommend one of the following:

Once you’ve got two-factor authentication set up, you’ll use the unique six-digit code from your authenticator app to login to your mailbox. And you won’t be able to access your account until you’ve entered that code.

Is ProtonMail safe and secure?

If you’re looking into getting a secure email account, chances are your main priority is security and privacy.

So here are the central ProtonMail privacy and security features:

  • End-to-end encryption
  • Based in Switzerland with some of the strictest privacy laws
  • Stores your data in secure data centers

With ProtonMail end-to-end encryption, no one except you and the recipient can view your emails. And you can send encrypted emails to non-ProtonMail users as well. For even more security, ProtonMail adds two-factor authentication as an additional layer of protection. So, you can rest assured that no one will be snooping through your inbox or successfully intercepting your correspondence.

ProtonMail Review: is it the Most Secure Email Provider? video screenshot

That said, in 2021, ProtonMail disclosed the IP address of a French climate activist after the Swiss authorities requested it. The company went public, stating that they aren't logging their users by default. It's done only in criminal prosecution cases. While ProtonMail didn't cooperate after the requests of French authorities, they had to after Europol became involved with the case and contacted the Swiss government directly. As they have to comply with their local laws, they gave up the suspect. ProtonMail revealed the date when the email address was created, the IP address linked to it, and the device identification number. However, they didn't reveal any mailbox contents, which are encrypted, and non-decipherable on their end. This amount of logging is standard in the industry.

To avoid such situations, it could be an option to use their .onion website version. That way your IP address would be hidden. Also, make sure that you're not giving away any personal details, pay in cryptocurrencies, and use a VPN provider to keep your information safe.

ProtonMail encryption

encryption for non-protonmail users

As we mentioned above, ProtonMail offers end-to-end encryption for a much more secure service. But how does ProtonMail work? Let’s break it down.

End-to-end encryption is a really secure way of preventing third parties from being able to access data while it’s being transferred between systems or devices. If your email service uses end-to-end encryption, it means that your data is encrypted throughout the entire communication process. So, only you and the person you’re sending the email to will be able to access the information.

ProtonMail also stores all your emails in an encrypted format, which means that even the developers in charge of the email service won’t be able to read the messages in your inbox or outbox.

You can also send end-to-end encrypted emails to non-ProtonMail users. This works by sending a link to your intended recipient which loads an encrypted message onto their browser. They’ll then be able to decrypt your email using a passphrase you can share with them.

To do this, you will have to enable the Encrypt for Outside option. When you compose an email, click the lock icon on the bottom left of the screen and set a password (and password hint, if necessary).

If you didn’t set a password for your email, it will be encrypted using regular TLS, assuming the receiver’s server allows it. The same goes for emails sent to you by non-ProtonMail users.

PGP support

protonmail pgp settings

PGP (or Pretty Good Privacy) is encryption software for email communications. Generally, it's a secure method to encrypt your emails but it might be too complex to set up manually. ProtonMail has a built-in PGP encryption that you can use with zero technical expertise.

Between ProtonMail users, PGP has to be enabled. Once you do, PGP will encrypt all the emails that you exchange. If you want to communicate with the external accounts, you can allow PGP for outside users.

It works by generating two pairs of public and private keys. When you send an email, the sender exchanges a public key with the recipient, which they can decrypt with their private keys. That way you can be sure that only the intended recipient gets the message.

ProtonMail anonymity

Another great thing about ProtonMail is the fact that it allows you to complete anonymity if you want it. You don’t even need to input any personal data when you create your account, so your privacy will be completely protected.

And by default, ProtonMail doesn’t track IP addresses, so there’s no information that an outsider could use to tie you to that account. That way, you know your emails are completely private.

ProtonMail’s self-destructing messages

expiration time protonmail

You can even set an optional expiration time on any emails sent from your ProtonMail account. This means that your email will be automatically deleted from the recipient’s inbox once it has expired.

This not only works for emails sent to other ProtonMail users, but also for ones sent to recipients using other email providers. It works in a similar way to Snapchat by removing messages once the allotted time has passed.

ProtonMail data centers

When it comes to storing your data, ProtonMail’s security sounds rather like something out of a James Bond film. ProtonMail controls its server hardware at several secure locations in Switzerland. Its main data center is under 1,000 meters of granite rock in a heavily guarded bunker built to survive a nuclear attack.

If you know anything about cybersecurity, you’ll likely have heard that Switzerland is one of the safest places for data to be hosted. This is because the Swiss Federal Data Protection Act (DPA) and the Swiss Federal Data Protection Ordinance (DPO) offers some of the strongest privacy protection in the world for both companies and individuals.

And because ProtonMail is based in Switzerland, this places it outside of US and UK jurisdiction. This means that nothing short of a court order from the Cantonal Court of Geneva or the Swiss Federal Supreme Court would lead to ProtonMail releasing the very limited information it will have stored. So it’s very unlikely anyone will ever be able to read through your emails.

Protection against batch GCD attacks

Since ProtonMail relies on public key infrastructure, individual instances are near impossible to crack. However, there are cases of acquiring large volumes of public keys and deriving private keys. It works with the assumption that an algorithm's randomness isn't that random, and with a large pool of data, it could be possible to reverse engineer a password.

However, ProtonMail checked their measure on their whole database of accounts. Among it, it identified only 90 public keys belonging to spam accounts. This test goes to show that ProtonMail remains secure even to advanced measures of encryption cracking.

ProtonMail plans and pricing

VersionFeaturesPrice
Free1 user, 500 MB storage, 1 address, 150 messages per day, 3 folders$0
Plus1 user, 5 GB storage, 5 addresses, 1000 messages per day, 200 folders, 1 custom domain, email filters, autoresponder$48/year
Professional1-5000 users, 5 GB storage/user, 5 addresses/user, unlimited messages per day, unlimited folders, priority customer support, 2 custom domains, email filters, autoresponder, catch-all email, multi-user support$75/year
Visionary6 users, 20 GB storage, 50 addresses, unlimited messages per day, unlimited folders, priority customer support, 10 custom domains, email filters, autoresponder, catch-all email, multi-user support, ProtonVPN$288/year

You might well imagine that storing your emails in a heavily guarded bunker under 1,000 meters of granite rock would cost you quite a bit of money. But ProtonMail actually offers a free plan that gives you all these security benefits.

The free plan does limit the number of emails you can receive per day. But the limit is fairly generous and if it’s not enough for you, there are other very reasonably priced plans that increase your daily allowance.

So which plan is right for you and how much do they cost? Let’s have a closer look:

ProtonMail Plus

Rather than calling it a subscription fee, ProtonMail likes to refer to the monthly cost of its paid plans as a “donation” to help the company continue to provide a secure email service to its customers. But however ProtonMail wants to dress it up, you pay an annual or monthly cost to use its premium services.

Having said that, its prices are pretty reasonable. ProtonMail Plus works out at just $4 a month. And for that, you get a lot more features than the free version offers.

The biggest difference is the limits on storage and the number of emails allowed goes up considerably once you upgrade to ProtonMail Plus. You’ll now have a much more generous 5GB of storage and you can send up to 1,000 emails every day, rather than the daily limit of 150 offered in the free version.

You can also have up to five email aliases and you can create your own domain name. So rather than having to stick with @protonmail.com, you can truly personalize your email address.

And the Plus account also gives you priority access to ProtonMail’s customer support.

So, to sum up, the ProtonMail Plus account offers:

  • 5GB storage
  • 1,000 messages a day
  • Labels, custom filters, and folders
  • The option to send encrypted messages to external recipients
  • The ability to create your own domain (for example [email protected])
  • Up to 5 email aliases
  • Priority customer support

ProtonMail Professional

If you’re looking into improving email security on behalf of a business, the ProtonMail Professional account could be the perfect solution.

You can create a domain name for your company and add accounts for each of your employees. It’s all fairly easy and straightforward to set up, and ProtonMail can help you migrate your current email system over to ProtonMail. Simply contact [email protected] for more information and assistance.

ProtonMail Visionary

As the name and price would suggest, ProtonMail Visionary comes with a lot of storage and some helpful extra features that’ll no doubt come in handy for anyone who needs to send a lot of secure emails.

ProtonMail Visionary offers a whopping 20GB of storage and lets you set up as many as 50 email aliases with as many as 10 domain names.

It also has no limits on the number of emails you can send per day. However, ProtonMail doesn’t let you send bulk emails. This is to prevent you from sending spam or unsolicited emails. Which, to be honest, seems fair enough.

The full list of ProtonMail Visionary features are as follows:

  • 20GB storage
  • Up to 50 email aliases
  • Support for up to 10 domains
  • Multi-user support (6 total)
  • No sending limits, except bulk, spam, or unsolicited emails
  • Labels, custom filters, and folders
  • The ability to send encrypted messages to external recipients
  • Early access to new features
  • Access to ProtonVPN

ProtonMail Free

ProtonMail’s free account comes with 500MB of storage. This isn’t loads, but it’s probably enough if you delete your emails regularly and you don’t receive a lot of large files like hi-res images and videos. And it shows you how much of your memory you’re using up so you’ll always know when you need to start deleting things to free up space.

It caps your limit at 150 emails a day, which is a large enough allowance to suit most people. But if you find this isn’t quite enough for you, you can upgrade to one of the paid plans anytime you like. More on those a little further down.

The only other drawback you may find with the free version of ProtonMail is the limited customer support. There are, as you might expect, lots of FAQs on the website to help you resolve basic issues and there’s an online form and a customer support email address if you need more help. But the paid plans come with more dedicated support, which is much more useful if you have issues with ProtonMail’s service.

But aside from that, ProtonMail’s free service offers a really secure email service with only a few slight drawbacks. And because you can upgrade at any time, if you’re not sure what limit you need, it might be worth starting off with the free version and upgrading to a paid plan if it doesn’t suit your needs.

So, to reiterate, ProtonMail’s free account comes with:

  • 500MB storage
  • 150 messages a day
  • Limited customer support

Is ProtonMail easy to use?

ProtonMail is really easy to set up and very straightforward to use. We’ll walk you through the features, layout, and mobile app to help you decide if it’s the right service for you.

How to set up a ProtonMail account

It’s really easy to set up a ProtonMail account. All you need to do is visit the ProtonMail sign-up page, select the plan you want, and follow the instructions.

One of the best things about it is you don’t have to put in any personal information so you can retain your anonymity. The site does suggest that you add a recovery email in case you forget your password, but you don’t have to.

ProtonMail design and layout

Unless this is your first ever email account, you’ll find ProtonMail’s layout very familiar and easy to navigate. The inbox looks very similar to anything you might be used to with Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo, and it’s really easy to find all the basic functions like creating new messages, adding contacts, and accessing your draft emails.

New emails are shown in bold and you can choose to allow notifications on your desktop or mobile phone app so you’ll be alerted as soon as you get a new message.

protonvpn UI

The paid versions also let you create custom folders, filters, and labels to help you organize your emails.

Meanwhile, the free version still lets you create basic folders and labels that you can color-code to help you find things easily.

folder structure protonvpn

ProtonMail app

As well as a really user-friendly desktop version, ProtonMail also has a really useful app that’s available on Apple and Android devices.

We tested out the Android version and found it fast, smooth, and easy to use. At the time of writing, the ProtonMail app has been downloaded over 1 million times on the Google Play Store and has received more than 28,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars. Meanwhile, the ProtonMail app for Apple users has 4.2 stars and has roughly 1,500 reviews. So it’s safe to say the app is pretty popular with its users.

protonmail app UI

ProtonCalendar

Like most mainstream email services, ProtonMail also offers a calendar app. But unlike other calendar apps, ProtonCalendar has end-to-end encryption to keep your schedule completely secure.

Everything from the event title, description, and location to the people you’ve invited are encrypted on your device. That means that no third party (not even ProtonMail) can see the details of your events. Only you will know your plans.

protonmail calendar

ProtonMail performance

Despite all the layers of strict security, we actually found ProtonMail pretty speedy. It sends and receives emails with hardly any lag. And uploading and downloading documents doesn’t seem to take any longer than it does on mainstream email services, like Gmail.

While we can’t know for sure whether it starts to lag once you’ve got thousands of emails in your inbox, early signs are that the extra security doesn’t noticeably slow things down.

ProtonMail customer support

ProtonMail doesn’t offer much in the way of customer support. If you opt for the free version, all you really have access to is the online FAQs. Or you can email [email protected] if you need help with a specific problem.

There’s also an online form you can fill in. Apparently the only way you can actually speak to someone is by filling this in and requesting a call-back. Which isn’t ideal if you just want to speak to someone about an urgent issue.

ProtonMail alternatives

While ProtonMail might be the most well-known secure email service, it’s certainly not the only one. In fact, there are quite a few alternatives that are worth considering.

ProtonMail vs Tutanota

Tutanota is arguably even more secure than ProtonMail as it offers complete end-to-end encryption on emails, including subject lines. It also offers a more generous free version with up to 1GB of storage instead of ProtonMail’s 500MB.

However, ProtonMail offers more customization, from setting auto-responses to importing themes to make your inbox look exactly the way you want it.

Overall, the two are fairly evenly matched, although if we had to choose, we’d probably opt for ProtonMail for the added customization. It also has better customer support, which is really useful if you ever have an issue. Check our full comparison between ProtonMail and Tutanota for the details.

Winner:

ProtonMail vs Fastmail

Fastmail promises to keep your data safe from third parties and boasts full transparency with its data practices. However, unlike ProtonMail, it doesn’t deliver end-to-end encryption, so it’s not as secure.

Also, there’s no free version and the price of a Fastmail account starts at $3 a month. For those reasons alone, ProtonMail is definitely the better choice. Check out our Fastmail review for more information.

Winner:

ProtonMail vs Gmail

Gmail is incredibly popular and offers a reasonable amount of security. But ProtonMail offers a lot more. With its end-to-end encryption, no one can access your messages except you and your intended recipient, not even the people who work at ProtonMail.

Gmail, meanwhile, can not only view your data but can actually share it with third party companies who can then send you targeted ads.

Having said all that, Gmail does have its good points. For one thing, it’s owned by Google, so its app and desktop version are really easy to use and it offers much more in the way of customer support. But for us, there’s no contest: if you’re even slightly concerned about your online privacy, ProtonMail is a much safer choice.

Winner:

ProtonMail review: the bottom line

If you’ve got an email account with a mainstream provider, chances are it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption. As you've seen from our ProtonMail review, the big difference between a secure email service like ProtonMail and a standard email service such as Gmail or Outlook is that it provides a lot more security and privacy for its users.

ProtonMail is really simple, easy to use and it offers end-to-end encryption, so you’ll have real peace of mind, knowing that your emails can’t be read by anyone other than you and whoever you’re emailing. There’s no coincidence that the protagonist from TV series Mr. Robot is seen using this service in Season 1, and it was also featured in the movie “Knives Out” for sending ransom notes. Protonmail is just that secure.

Want to know more? Check out our complete guide to secure email providers. The company behind ProtonMail also offers a one of the best free VPN services out there. Read on our ProtonVPN review here.


More secure email provider reviews

Zoho Mail review: great security features and more

Tutanota review: why we recommend this secure email provider

Fastmail review: good, but not the best choice


FAQ

Comments
Radek
Radek
prefix 2 months ago
ProtonMail even in its latest version does not support removing attachments while keeping the email message. I wonder if Tutanota supports this.
GeorgeR
GeorgeR
prefix 3 months ago
Protonmail mail will lock you out “temporarily” if you log in and sign out just a few times per day. Even if you respond to the CAPTCHA correctly and provide a 2-factor log-in code sent via Google Authenticator, you will not be able to gain access to your account. “Temporary” is going on 5 hours now. Protonmail cannot be taken seriously as a secure email option for businesses/professionals until they fix their overzealous and broken account security protocols. The problems occur when I access my acc’t from my desktop and laptop. The phone app seems to work fine except using the app from the phone makes it difficult to email and receive attachments. Protonmail may be fine for casual users but is not yet ready for use by professionals/businesses.
Debbi
Debbi
prefix 5 months ago
Great article; you have mentioned the most secure email provider. You can even add EasySendy Pro as it is a hybrid email automation tool for leveraging email campaigns.
Samuel ODell
Samuel ODell
prefix 5 months ago
Please help. I need to set up two separate user accounts – one for me and one for my wife. I know that I can purchase two Plus Plans but would it be more practical to purchase just a Professional Plan?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 5 months ago
Hello, Samuel. Getting two Plus plans is still two times cheaper than one Professional plan. Unless you see some features that you’d love, I suggest sticking to Plus+Plus.
William Kernow
William Kernow
prefix 6 months ago
“The site does suggest that you add a recovery email in case you forget your password, but you don’t have to.”

NOT TRUE!!!

To create an account you have to choose verification by email, SMS or make a Donation. So they get your email address OR phone number OR card details (I assume, as I never made a donation).

I think they say they do not store these details. Really?? This cannot be true. I used the same email address MONTHS apart to verify two protonmail accounts – they told me (for my second account) that it had already been used. So, HOW WOULD THEY KNOW UNLESS THEY STORED IT???
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 6 months ago
Hello, William. Sorry for not being clear about the recovery email. What I meant is that it’s optional but you do have to give an email, a phone number, or your credit card for verification that you’re human. Therefore, you can use a throwaway email for that. Even if you choose your active account, it’s not linked to your account but they do have to avoid automated account setup. However, ProtonMail stores that data in hashed format, so if someone manages to break into their servers, they won’t be able to see anything without a key. To sum up, your ProtonMail account is safe as long as you use a strong master password and activate 2FA.
George
George
prefix 6 months ago
Bailed on Gmail earlier this year. Loving proton mail.
Had a couple other friends leave too.

I sleep better at night knowing google isn’t tracking me.
Love me some proton mail!!
Anne
Anne
prefix 7 months ago
Also note that with the free ProtonMail account, if you forget your password and have to reset it, due to encryption keys, all the email in your account received before your password change will become unreadable. It’s the same with the paid accounts, but they have at least have an export tool that will allow you to export your email in bulk (rather than one by one) before rendering it all useless.
Oyvey
Oyvey
prefix 7 months ago
Is it safe from hacking where hackers steal your customers account and passwords in bulk?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 6 months ago
Hello, Oyvey. The only for a hacker to steal this data is learning your master password. Even then, you can easily protect yourself from unauthorized account access by setting up a 2-factor-authentication.
Ma Aurora
Ma Aurora
prefix 6 months ago
Is there any way for me to make sure that a certain email address related to pronton mail is legitimate and not mede by any fraudsters?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 6 months ago
Dear Ma Aurora,
ProtonMail has a good spam filter, but in case something suspicious reaches your inbox, you should check with customer support before opening such email.
Dale
Dale
prefix 8 months ago
There seem to be some very negative and concerning reviews on TrustPilot, which is such a shame. It’s put me right off.
MJ
MJ
prefix 8 months ago
I’m not very tech savvy so I wondered if you could explain how using ProtonMail prevents an intercept of an incoming email from someone who is not using a secure email service? For example, I read a story the other day where a firm emailed money transfer instructions to a client. The firm’s email had been hacked, the email was intercepted and the account number in the transfer instructions was changed. When the email landed in the client’s mailbox, he had no idea and simply transferred money to the account number shown. Money gone! So, in this scenario, how would the client having ProtonMail prevent that from happening if the person sending him the email had been hacked?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 8 months ago
Hello, MJ!
That’s a good question. The problem with regular emails is that they’re not encrypted end-to-end. This makes intercepting and reading them relatively easy. When we’re talking about secure emails, there’s virtually no way to decipher the content without having a key. I don’t know how exactly the money-transfer email from your story has been intercepted, but the chances are that one of the parties simply used a weak password. I’d recommend checking if your email address hasn’t leaked using our leak checker – https://cybernews.com/personal-data-leak-check/. Stay safe!
Monero
Monero
prefix 8 months ago
In my opinion Tutanota is more secure than ProtonMail because Tutanota supports U2F (Security key) and has better password recovery procedure. Please read my comment below this article for more details:
Tutanota vs. ProtonMail: which is the better secure email service?
https://cybernews.com/secure-email-providers/tutanota-vs-protonmail/
KARTI
KARTI
prefix 8 months ago
NICE ARTICLE CLEARLY SAID
Ross
Ross
prefix 8 months ago
I’ve had a free mail acct for a few months now. I can’t seem to upgrade to the paid acct w/ the VPN using Visa here in the US. Anyone else had such problems?
Atty
Atty
prefix 9 months ago
I created a Protonmail account for work purposes in the fall of 2019 due to the privacy features. No one anywhere warned of issues if you email people who have settings to refuse emails from foreign countries. I frequently have to email with a US state government office. When using Protonmail I could receive their emails but they could not receive mine. Protonmail was prompt about my initial queries as to why this was happening. I contacted this US state’s IT dept. who said yes, they block all overseas emails because they could not keep up with all the cyber threats originating from foreign countries. Please include this information in your next Protonmail review. Ačiū
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
Hi, Atty. Thanks for your comment, that’s really interesting. I had no idea that the US government could use such a block.
Dr. Yvonne Athanasaw
Dr. Yvonne Athanasaw
prefix 9 months ago
Greetings. Did I read correctly that this service is one to one communication and messages cannot be sent to multiple recipients?

Thanks.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
Hello, Yvonne. You can send to multiple recipients just like with any other email service.
None Ur' Biz
None Ur' Biz
prefix 1 month ago
Hello Dr.,

I use the Basic/Free versions of Protonmail and have always been able to send to multiple recipients. =)
Scott
Scott
prefix 9 months ago
One of the advantages of the Google services is the ability to share a calendar with family members. Does the Proton calendar offer this option? And if so at what ‘donation’ level?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
Hi, Scott. While ProtonMail does have a calendar, it’s still in beta and available to paid users only.
bcp
bcp
prefix 9 months ago
The article indicates free VPN with each account as of Dec 7/2020. However there is a fee for the VPN. This makes sense as I don’t see how they could offer this free. Perhaps you should update the article.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
Thanks for pointing that out! I’ve updated the article ?
Tim
Tim
prefix 9 months ago
I signed up to ProtonMail this month (Jan 21) and you do get free VPN access with a free ProtonMail account. It’s a freemium model and you get a wider choice of servers, better performance and more features with a paid account, but I’ve tested the Netherlands and USA free servers (Japan is the third free option) and they seem okay. You can check the pricing structure for yourself here: https://protonvpn.com/pricing.

Also, I agree with the review that the Visionary plan is expensive. I couldn’t justify it for myself, but it supports 6 users and so for a family or other group who can split the cost it would be more reasonable.
Stephen
Stephen
prefix 10 months ago
The article states “Protonmail also offers a fully integrated calendar app”. This is misleading. On the desktop Protonmail is accessed through a web browser. There is a production release and a beta release browser interface to Protonmail. On the phone there is a dedicated App for accessing Protonmail and there is a production and beta version of the App (I have used the beta version of the phone App and the Web Browser interface extensively with my paid Protonmail account. The Protonmail Calendar is available on the Beta release Web Browser interface only. It is not available on the production release Web Browser interface. The Calendar is not on any phone App, Beta or Production release nor is there a dedicated calendar App. (You can access Protonmail through the Beta Web browser interface on your phone, but it’s kind of lame compared to using a dedicated App.)

The Web interface Protonmail 4.0.0 went into Beta in December 2019 (a year ago) and is currently at Beta 32. It is unclear when the 4.0.0 will go into production release. There has not been a similar feature upgrade phone app that has gone into Beta at this point.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
Thanks for the comment, Stepehn. I’ve updated the article accordingly!
Stephen
Stephen
prefix 10 months ago
The Protonmail “Encrypt for Outside” feature described in the article requires a ‘password per message’, which is fatally flawed from a useability standpoint. To use this feature, you need to manually keep some sort of journal of agreed upon passwords for your recipients, and then enter the appropriate password (twice) for each outgoing message. If you have two contacts with different passwords, e.g. a contact Ben with the password ‘chocolate’ and a contact Jerry with the password ‘vanilla’, you can’t send an Encrypt for Outside message to Ben and Jerry without agreeing to a new password with at least one of them since the password is per message. If Ben knows two people with Protonmail and the other sender assigns a password of ‘rockyroad’, he needs to keep track of the password for each sender, so his password vault will become confusing.

An implementation that would work and allow Protonmail customers to have secure email instead of just secure Inboxes would be to allow the recipient to choose their password to unlock the link displaying the email, and to store that password on the Protonmail server.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
I agree with you, Stephen. I hope ProtonMail finds a solution for this nuisance soon.
GQ
GQ
prefix 10 months ago
I have migrated from a solid host’s personal mailbox to ProtonMail three months ago under the lure of a safe and encrypted system. The requirement – that I would be able to easily use Outlook as an interface going forward – was confirmed clearly, as well as the promise of an easy migration.

It has been an unmitigated DISASTER. The migration itsekf is an interminable process. Entering the parameters to redirect emails to Proton’s email servers is multi-step and complex process. The outcome has many weaknesses. I’ll mention a few. You can’t create folders from Outlook, and have to manually create them in a beta version soft. After three months, I still can’t upload past emails into Proton (so still need to use the old server’s on a second computer). Right now, Outlook can’t fetch or send emails properly, so I have to rely on a third system – webmail- to read my emails, with all the weaknesses of this approach.

The magnitude of the problems is way over IT support’s capabilities, despite their goodwill and patience. The guy sends me to goose chase after goose chase to test and re-test ideas. Every step forward bring another problem. The IT support second level doesn’t seem to help the first level. Of course, the sales rep is nowhere to be seen, now that the sale is concluded. The management will not return my request for a conversation (my ref is 609897, among others, if they read this and change their mind…)

You may find satisfaction in the webmail, but absolutely stay away from ProtonMail for any other approach. It is literally a business-killer.
Jeffersonian
Jeffersonian
prefix 8 months ago
Outlook has been an unmitigated corporate disaster !
If you wish to be free from corporate spying on emails, you should rather use an open source email client.
None of them is 100% satisfactory (but neither is Outlook).
But some of theme are quite good.
On Linux, Evolution is quite good, features rich.
Thunderbird is very popular
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
Hi, GQ. I’m sorry to hear that. While importing contacts from Outlook is easy, but moving all emails can be difficult. However, if you simply want to start a new account, ProtonMail apps should work just fine.
Ramlianmro
Ramlianmro
prefix 10 months ago
Nice
Karla Förstner
Karla Förstner
prefix 10 months ago
Do you know how to get more storage on protonmail? My inbox is full and I don’t know what to do. Am I missing out on incoming emails now? Do I need to do some cleanup? Please help!
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 10 months ago
Dear Karla,
No worries, this problem can be solved easily. You can either delete the emails that you no longer need or upgrade your ProtonMail plan.
Quizzaean
Quizzaean
prefix 11 months ago
If you’re using the free version then does it come with limitations on how large of a file can you send with protonmail? I need to relocate some sensitive batches of files and I’d rather not have the likes of Google and their friends snooping around.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 10 months ago
Hello, Quizzaean! The maximum attachment size is 25 MB. Good luck with the migration!
JJ
JJ
prefix 11 months ago
Does Protonmail block logs and IP addresses via their app? I mainly use the web version because I’m not sure if that’s the case. Do I lose a level of security by using the app versus the web version?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 10 months ago
Hey JJ! ProtonMail doesn’t track your IP and doesn’t log personal data. Here’s an excerpt from their privacy policy: “None of the software on our apps will ever access or track any location-based information from your device at any time. Any personal data acquired during this process is anonymized.”
Blaine Beumer
Blaine Beumer
prefix 11 months ago
Hello. I’m considering a switch of email providers. At the moment I’m using Outlook because I’m in the Microsoft ecosystem. But this review made me want to change things up a bit. If I decide to do that, how does protonmail protect microsoft window users? Thank you and have a great day!
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 10 months ago
Dear Blaine,
The good news is that ProtonMail supports Outlook, so you could still use the app that you know well but get the benefits of a secure email. Alternatively, you can transfer your Outlook contacts to ProtonMail. The most important thing is that your messages will be fully encrypted, and you’ll be able to send them even to regular email users. Last but not least – ProtonMail doesn’t track your IP ?
Lydia Nuremberg
Lydia Nuremberg
prefix 11 months ago
Man, you sure can depend on the Swiss to deliver quality products and I’m glad that email is no exception. I may have to switch to them as my provider from now on. But there’s on key element that I seem to have missed on. How long does protonmail save your emails? Because I’ve had mailboxes that kind of disappeared on me. I get it, unexpected things happen, but I need some guarantees.
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 10 months ago
I hear you, Lydia! They should pack ProtonMail with cheese! As to your emails, they are stored indefinitely unless you delete your account. Also, you might run out of space someday because the free account is 500 MB only ?
BongoTiger
BongoTiger
prefix 11 months ago
hey so i’m not very tech savvy, im using a mac which is super easy to use for me but i don’t understand how do i add protonmail to mac mail app. i would really appreciate if you could make a detailed tutorial about that without skipping any details or else i’ll get lost. and does it make a difference if i’m using the paid version of protonmail?
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 11 months ago
Howdy, Bongo Tiger! To install ProtonMail on the macOS Mail app, just follow the instructions on the https://protonmail.com/bridge/applemail webpage. There are screenshots as well, so it should go smoothly. Good luck!
HolyBeach13
HolyBeach13
prefix 11 months ago
If the inbox is encrypted then how to download your protonmail keys? I mean does it even work like that? I hope so, I’d feel safer having the encryption keys always nearby. You might think that that’s a bit extreme, but I don’t care about your judgement, I want to be certain that my sensitive information is secure.
4n0nym0u53
4n0nym0u53
prefix 9 months ago
When you create your account, your keypair is created locally in your browser, and the private key is encrypted with your password before it’s sent to ProtonMail’s servers. Your password is the only thing that can decrypt your private key, which always happens locally. Of course, the stronger the password is, the more secure your mailbox is, which is why I always recommend using a password manager and use it to create a long, randomized password for your ProtonMail account, or any account really (of course with a strong master password for the password manager as well).
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 11 months ago
Dear HolyBeach13,
Thank you for your comment. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to help you. First, log in using the web app. Then, choose Settings > Keys. From here, you’ll be able to download both private and public keys. Have a good one!
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